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CII calls for further research into impact of speed awareness courses

speeding car stock

Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) members are pushing for a thorough analysis of the effect speed awareness courses have on driver safety and how they should influence the premiums insurance companies charge motorists.

The recommendation follows a BBC investigation suggesting that some insurers are treating drivers who have attended speeding awareness courses as a higher risk, so warranting increased insurance premiums, despite police claims that insurance prices should be unchanged for those motorists.

The CII’s New Generation Underwriting Group – part of the CII’s faculties and made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to research ways of improving insurance industry practices – has been involved in researching the issue of speed awareness courses and insurance.

Long-term impact

Its final report, now published, calls for further scrutiny of the long-term impact of the courses on driver behaviour.

Speaking on behalf of the Group, James Ward said: “There has, so far, been a lack of analysis into the impact of a speed awareness courses (SACs) on driver behaviour and whether the risk of accident or further convictions is different compared with convicted speeders as only short-term effects have been measured.

“We have been working closely on this issue with key stakeholders, including the National Road Safety Board and the Association of Chief Police Officers, and have put together a complete research proposal for the insurance sector and police to collaborate on showing definitively the impact of SACs.

“This analysis needs to be progressed to gauge the long term effects on drivers who attend a course.

“In turn, this will allow the industry to understand if, statistically, these drivers are an increased risk, a lower risk or no different when compared to drivers either with or without speeding convictions.

“Once completed, individual insurance companies can make informed decisions on the premiums they wish to charge with full confidence their prices are fair.”

Should course attendance be disclosed?

Ward added: “A lack of clear information on the subject has created confusion among drivers and insurers regarding whether or not attendance at a course should be disclosed.

“The Financial Ombudsman has confirmed that if drivers have attended a course they can honestly answer “no” to the question asking whether they have a motoring conviction or prosecution, as neither of these apply to drivers who have attended a speed awareness course.

“The insurance industry and those who run speed awareness courses need to work together to establish the true impact of these courses to ensure that customers are charged a fair premium that reflects their level of risk.

“Individual insurers can then make an informed decision on the premiums they wish to charge with full confidence.

“Equally, course providers will be able to understand the long-term impact of their courses and use the findings to assist with their on-going efforts to improve their effectiveness and ultimately improve road safety for everyone.”   

Unknown risk to insurers

More than one million people attended a speed awareness course last year rather than be convicted of speeding.

This is a significant number of people (2.7% of the total driving population) who currently represent an unknown risk to insurers, which means they may not being paying the correct premium.

One major issue is there is no consistency of data. Not all police authorities provide National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) approved courses.

This means that a driver could potentially attend more than one course in a short period of time (in different geographical areas) and still not receive a conviction.

One recommendation of the CII Group is that data on all course attendees, regardless of police authority or course provider, should be stored centrally.

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Comments

  • William H - 21/11/2012 12:13

    The statements below are all well and good but what if the Data gathered shows that individuals who have attended these courses are a lower risk, safer as a result of the training, do they intend on lowering their premiums, Now let me think about that?" The insurance industry and those who run speed awareness courses need to work together to establish the true impact of these courses to ensure that customers are charged a fair premium that reflects their level of risk. “Individual insurers can then make an informed decision on the premiums they wish to charge with full confidence. “Equally, course providers will be able to understand the long-term impact of their courses and use the findings to assist with their on-going efforts to improve their effectiveness and ultimately improve road safety for everyone.”

  • Steve Higgins - 21/11/2012 16:47

    Attending a speed awareness course has made me a better driver so my premium's should be reduced! It woud be interesting to see what the re-offend rate is amongst speed awareness course attendees

    • Matt - 22/11/2012 09:35

      @Steve Higgins - I have to agree. I've been on one of these too and on the day, they do make you think. Certainly, in the short term, I went home obeying all speed limits, and for a few weeks afterwards as well. Longer term? Yes, they didn't just lecture us about the effects and physics of speed, they also taught us a few advanced driver techniques along the way which were not necessarily speed related, but definitely worth the time and money and I am a safer driver because of it.

  • A Concerned Citizen - 21/11/2012 20:19

    Anyone who knows the insurance industry knows that it is a cartel who love this type of detail to cause minor meaningless fuss for hiding behind.

  • Tony Clarke - 22/11/2012 20:10

    I deliver these courses. Without doubt, the vast majority of clients attend simply to avoid the points and they are often quite negative at the start. But then something quite interesting happens.... You see a shift in attitude. People start to engage. It's a wake up call and frequently by the end they're suggesting that everyone should be compelled to do a course every so often. How can that be seen as a negative? If this is happening it suggest that the courses have a very positive effect and they do change driver behaviour for the better. If an insurer is sufficiently short sighted to increase premiums, then we all have an option. Tell them how you feel. Vote with your feet. Go where your business is wanted. Hopefully those short sighted insurance companies which have seen fit to penalise their clients for taking the initiative to voluntarily take some training will see the wisdom of their ill found business strategy. Admiral and Elephant have, we are told, around 10% of the market. If they don't want to be in the market, that's not our concern.

  • Richard Bratton - 23/11/2012 17:49

    From a trainers perspective, who has been involved in the provision of Speed Awareness Courses, and of an ex Roads Policing Officer, of 30years standing, the feedback and actual participation from clients who have attended these courses, is absolutely positive. The clients gain a greater understanding of 'appropriate speed', an area most will have little knowledge of. They are given valuable information to enable them to make informed speed choices, identify and understand speed limits, not just in urban areas, but on all roads in a variety of circumstances. Of course, there will be some drivers whose driving behaviour will not change, they have attended to avoid penalty points, however, they are the minority. The sooner reliable statistics are made available, the sooner there will be credable support. Likewise, there is a need to uniformity with service providers, who will provide idental courses, all subscribing to a common data base. It must be said, that there is a general consensus that for insurers to raise premiums in these circumstances, those insurers have adopted a rather unethical stance, not based upon fact or statistics, simple upon the benefit of increased premiums. Richard Bratton.

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