Saturday, 8 March 2008

Insurance Trap for post-Learner drivers, Tell your insurance company you passed

My friend the student driver, with whom I made the agreement below, took her test last week and I am happy to report passed at the first attempt. What's more she scored only 3 "minors" during the test. A great achievement and congratulations are fully in order to both her and her principal driving instructor.

A friend had said that we should phone the drivers insurance company and tell them of the pass as the driver would now be driving around on her own and may be doing more mileage. I did call but the stinger is that they wanted a further £30 Premium. I though this unfair for a couple of reasons
* When the insurance plan was taken out the company knew that the person was a learner driver and the premium set accordingly high. Nowhere in the documents does it say that there would be a further premium to pay when the person passes the test.
* Nowhere in the documents does it say that you have to tell them when the test is passed but the consequences of not doing so are very serious.

Now I understand that the risk profile changes unfavourably between a supervised and unsupervised driver but it also changes between a brand new driver, a person who repeatedly fails to reach test passing standard and someone who has passed a test. The insurance company did not require to be told when a test was failed.

The more I dug into the situation the more outrageous it became; by failing to inform test-passing drivers to notify the insurance company and adjust the policy the insurance company allows the just passed driver to be at risk of driving without valid insurance. I worked this through with the insurance agent it was confirmed that the insurance policy only covered the driver while they were a learner and accompanied.

This could have led to the following situation :
Police stop the just-passed driver and ask for documents, Driver hands over pass certificate, and details of insurance. Police call insurance company who say driver has policy as provisional driver only. Police charge driver with "Driving without insurance cover." This results in .. "The penalties for driving without insurance against third party risk are a maximum fine of £5,000, the automatic endorsement of an offender's licence with 6-8 penalty points and possible disqualification. " The car involved can also be seized. UK driving law says that 6 penalty points on a licence in the first two years can result in the licence being revoked and the driver having to retake the test. As a cherry on the top having lost both licence and car, the insurance company involved said that "We do not insure people who have been caught driving without insurance."

Now that would have been a very difficult situation for a young driver. Such a driving conviction would have hung like a vulture over their record for many years to come, causing vastly increased insurance premiums.

The failure to provide clear notice when a policy is issued to a known learner driver that the policy was only valid until the test is passed, is a in my opinion a negligent failure by the insurance company.

You have been warned, when you pass your test, call your insurance company, pay the "fine", then and only then go enjoy the freedom of the road.


PS: Click here for more of these frightening stats:
Increasing the number of young passengers increases the likelihood of a crash. One passenger makes it twice as likely, 2 or more, 5 times as likely.
The accident rate to novice drivers drops by 30% after the first year of experience and by another 17% after the second year.

Take care out there.

1 comment:

Gannett said...

I have since followed up with the insurance company concerned and have been reassured that the agent may have got a bit far in his justification of the "test passing" charge.

They offered to refund the charge which I declined in favour of a discount on next renewal.

They also assured me that any police enquiry made would have shown insurance cover in place.

So it was worth while discussing this with the company and noy just quietly paying any old charge the company happens to dream up.