Car Insurance and Penalty Points – Beginners guide

In this guide

This is the beginners guide to car insurance and penalty points.

In the UK, car insurance is a legal requirement if you want to drive on public roads.

However, there are different types of car insurance available, and it can be confusing to know which one is right for you.

And the process becomes more complicated if you have penalty points on your licence.

Here, the Car Adviser team explain everything about car insurance and penalty points so you can make an informed decision about your insurance needs.

What is car insurance and why do you need it?

Car insurance protects your car against financial losses in the event of an accident or other incident. Your insurance will also protect other vehicles you may have an accident with.

The cover will meet the cost of repairs, replacement parts, or even the entire cost of a new car if your old one has been written-off.

In some cases, it can also provide coverage for medical expenses incurred because of an accident.

When you choose car insurance, the premium will depend on several factors, including:

  • The type of car you drive
  • Your age
  • Your job
  • Your address
  • Your driving history.

Each insurer will weigh each of these factors differently – which is why premiums vary.

However, all car insurance policies have one thing in common: they all have an excess amount – that is the amount of money you’ll need to pay out before your insurance policy kicks in.

What are penalty points for drivers?

Penalty points are a system used to improve driving standards and reduce the number of accidents on the roads.

The points are issued by the police or the courts if you are convicted of certain motoring offences.

If you’re caught speeding, running a red light, or committing another motoring offence, such as using a mobile phone while behind the wheel of your car and you’ll be given a set number of points on your licence.

The number of points you receive depends on the severity of the offence, and if you reach 12 points within three years, you will be banned from driving for at least six months.

However, if you are a newbie driver, you only need to rack up six points and run the risk of having your licence revoked.

Be aware too that if you get another 12 points after serving a ban – you could be banned for a year – and it doubles if you are disqualified again.

However, the best way to avoid getting penalty points is to simply drive safely and within the law.

Insurers will look at your penalty points

Insurance firms will look at any penalty points that the driver has received before calculating the premium – though if you have points and driving convictions, you will find that fewer insurers will be willing to take you on.

This also sees an anomaly because while one driver may have three points on their licence, another who has six points may have lower premiums.

Again, this is down to the criteria being used by the insurer.

Research from one car insurance quoting platform indicates that having three penalty points might result in an average 5% increase in a driver’s car insurance premium.

Have six points and your premium could rocket by a hefty 25%.

The different types of car insurance available in the UK

There are three main types of car insurance available in the UK:

Third-party Car Insurance

Third party insurance is the most basic level of cover, and covers damage to other people and their property, but not to your own vehicle.

Comprehensive Car Insurance

Comprehensive cover is the next step up and protects you as well as other people and vehicles.

Specialist Car Insurance

Specialist cover is designed for high-risk drivers or those with unique needs or special or vintage cars.

When shopping for car insurance, it’s important to compare quotes from multiple providers to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

You should also consider the level of cover you need and whether you’re willing to pay a higher premium for a comprehensive policy.

And, as mentioned above, having penalty points on your driving licence will inevitably bump up your premium – but let’s look at this issue in more detail.

How penalty points affect your car insurance premiums

According to the Department for Transport, there are more than 2.6 million drivers in the UK with penalty points on their licences.

Having new penalty points on your licence will increase the cost of your car insurance – and that’s on top of any fine you may have had to pay.

Car insurance premiums are determined by various factors – as we detail above – including your driving history. If you have been convicted of a motoring offence, you will likely see an increase in your insurance premiums.

That’s in addition to the insurer looking at the type of car, the driver’s job and address – and the type of points they have been given.

Need to know how expensive points can be?

Your premiums will increase because insurers view drivers with points on their licence as a higher risk and, as such, are more likely to make a claim.

Along with paying more for car insurance – if you are a young or new driver with penalty points it’s likely your premiums will become very expensive.

That’s because insurers won’t want to deal with you so offer a large premium – or refuse to quote.

Fortunately, there are insurance firms that are prepared to insure drivers convicted of offences or who have penalty points.

It’s also worth noting that the points on your licence will remain valid for a certain period.

Most driving convictions will see points in place for four years, but significant offences involving alcohol, drugs or causing a fatality while driving recklessly can see points remaining on a licence for 11 years.

That means that you will be paying more for your car insurance for longer than the year after you committed the driving offence.

Tips for finding the right car insurance for your needs

When it comes to insuring your car, there are a lot of options available, and it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. Here are some tips to help you find the right car insurance for your needs:

  1. Know your budget: This is probably the most important factor when it comes to choosing car insurance. You need to know how much you can afford to spend on premiums.
  2. Consider your driving habits: If you are a high-risk driver, you will likely pay more for car insurance. Make sure to consider your driving habits when choosing a policy.
  3. Know what coverage you need: There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to car insurance. Make sure to choose a policy that covers you for the things you need.
  4. Compare quotes: Once you know what you need, it’s time to start shopping around. Get quotes from several different insurers and compare them.
  5. Read the small print: Before you commit to a policy, make sure you understand the terms and conditions. Read the small print so you know what you’re getting into.

By following these tips, you can be sure to find the right car insurance for your needs.

Other things to consider when insuring your car in the UK

There are a few other things to consider when insuring your car – among them is how much your excess sum will be.

This is the amount of money you will have to pay toward any claim you make.

The higher the excess, the lower your premiums will be.

However, you need to make sure you can afford to pay the excess if you do have to make a claim.

You could also consider fitting a ‘black box’ – this is also referred to as telematics insurance – which is a device that monitors your driving. These are popular with young and new drivers and if you drive safely, you will be rewarded with lower premiums.

Finally, you need to decide how you want to pay for your car insurance.

You can either pay in one lump sum or spread the cost by paying monthly – the latter option tends to be more expensive so you would be saving money if you can afford to pay the premium in full.

Everything about car insurance and penalty points

This guide has hopefully given you a good understanding of everything you need to know about car insurance and penalty points in the UK.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing car insurance, so make sure you compare quotes from different insurers and find the policy that’s right for you.

And if you’re ever involved in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact a legal firm to help you through the process – most insurance companies will have their own links so the process can begin quickly.

Having the correct car insurance for your needs is vital – but having penalty points does reduce the number of insurance firms willing to deal with you and make your premiums much more expensive.

Mark Williams
Mark Williams
Editorial Manager at Car Adviser. I'm responsible for leading a team of talented writers and editors who create high-quality automotive content for our audience. Previously Car and Driver Magazine and AutoExpress.
We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.
Cookies settings
I agree
Privacy & Cookie policy
Privacy & Cookies policy
Cookie name Active

Privacy Policy

What information do we collect?

We collect information from you when you register on our site or place an order. When ordering or registering on our site, as appropriate, you may be asked to enter your: name, e-mail address or mailing address.

What do we use your information for?

Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways: To personalize your experience (your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs) To improve our website (we continually strive to improve our website offerings based on the information and feedback we receive from you) To improve customer service (your information helps us to more effectively respond to your customer service requests and support needs) To process transactions Your information, whether public or private, will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason whatsoever, without your consent, other than for the express purpose of delivering the purchased product or service requested. To administer a contest, promotion, survey or other site feature To send periodic emails The email address you provide for order processing, will only be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your order.

How do we protect your information?

We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you place an order or enter, submit, or access your personal information. We offer the use of a secure server. All supplied sensitive/credit information is transmitted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and then encrypted into our Payment gateway providers database only to be accessible by those authorized with special access rights to such systems, and are required to?keep the information confidential. After a transaction, your private information (credit cards, social security numbers, financials, etc.) will not be kept on file for more than 60 days.

Do we use cookies?

Yes (Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computers hard drive through your Web browser (if you allow) that enables the sites or service providers systems to recognize your browser and capture and remember certain information We use cookies to help us remember and process the items in your shopping cart, understand and save your preferences for future visits, keep track of advertisements and compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interaction so that we can offer better site experiences and tools in the future. We may contract with third-party service providers to assist us in better understanding our site visitors. These service providers are not permitted to use the information collected on our behalf except to help us conduct and improve our business. If you prefer, you can choose to have your computer warn you each time a cookie is being sent, or you can choose to turn off all cookies via your browser settings. Like most websites, if you turn your cookies off, some of our services may not function properly. However, you can still place orders by contacting customer service. Visit Google's Privacy & Terms site to learn more: Google Analytics We use Google Analytics on our sites for anonymous reporting of site usage and for advertising on the site. If you would like to opt-out of Google Analytics monitoring your behaviour on our sites please use this link (

Do we disclose any information to outside parties?

We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties who assist us in operating our website, conducting our business, or servicing you, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.


The minimum information we need to register you is your name, email address and a password. We will ask you more questions for different services, including sales promotions. Unless we say otherwise, you have to answer all the registration questions. We may also ask some other, voluntary questions during registration for certain services (for example, professional networks) so we can gain a clearer understanding of who you are. This also allows us to personalise services for you. To assist us in our marketing, in addition to the data that you provide to us if you register, we may also obtain data from trusted third parties to help us understand what you might be interested in. This ‘profiling’ information is produced from a variety of sources, including publicly available data (such as the electoral roll) or from sources such as surveys and polls where you have given your permission for your data to be shared. You can choose not to have such data shared with the Guardian from these sources by logging into your account and changing the settings in the privacy section. After you have registered, and with your permission, we may send you emails we think may interest you. Newsletters may be personalised based on what you have been reading on At any time you can decide not to receive these emails and will be able to ‘unsubscribe’. Logging in using social networking credentials If you log-in to our sites using a Facebook log-in, you are granting permission to Facebook to share your user details with us. This will include your name, email address, date of birth and location which will then be used to form a Guardian identity. You can also use your picture from Facebook as part of your profile. This will also allow us and Facebook to share your, networks, user ID and any other information you choose to share according to your Facebook account settings. If you remove the Guardian app from your Facebook settings, we will no longer have access to this information. If you log-in to our sites using a Google log-in, you grant permission to Google to share your user details with us. This will include your name, email address, date of birth, sex and location which we will then use to form a Guardian identity. You may use your picture from Google as part of your profile. This also allows us to share your networks, user ID and any other information you choose to share according to your Google account settings. If you remove the Guardian from your Google settings, we will no longer have access to this information. If you log-in to our sites using a twitter log-in, we receive your avatar (the small picture that appears next to your tweets) and twitter username.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Compliance

We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act), we do not collect any information from anyone under 13 years of age. Our website, products and services are all directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.

Updating your personal information

We offer a ‘My details’ page (also known as Dashboard), where you can update your personal information at any time, and change your marketing preferences. You can get to this page from most pages on the site – simply click on the ‘My details’ link at the top of the screen when you are signed in.

Online Privacy Policy Only

This online privacy policy applies only to information collected through our website and not to information collected offline.

Your Consent

By using our site, you consent to our privacy policy.

Changes to our Privacy Policy

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page.
Save settings
Cookies settings