Inform your insurer of penalty points

Echo News Karen Kearney Solicitor, Evening Echo columnist

Karen Kearney Solicitor

Evening Echo columnist Karen Kearney, solicitor, this week advises a reader who is concerned about penalty points impacting their insurance premium

Q: I RECENTLY was caught for speeding and I received notification that my licence is going to be endorsed with penalty points. Do I need to tell my insurance company? I am worried about my insurance premium going up.

A: When one considers the number of road users killed on an annual basis, many feel that any attempt to mitigate further losses is undoubtedly a good thing. Ireland’s penalty points system is working well, and the RSA have reported a reduction overall in road deaths. That said, in a poll of 4,000 motorists in 2012, half of those who received penalty points felt aggrieved to some extent.
A practice which is adopted from time to time involves “point swapping.” This is an illegal practice whereby a motorist will ask another driver, specifically, a close friend, or family member, to accept penalty points on his behalf. Often times, this tactic is employed so as to ensure that motor insurance premia stay down, by sharing the load as it were. In extreme cases, this is done in order to prevent being disqualified from driving, which would have numerous knock-on effects to one’s livelihood, etc.
The reality is that penalty points are in place for good reason. It is a system that saves lives. It must be respected and obeyed in that context.
Insofar as your insurance company is concerned, it is entitled to be informed of any important or material facts including, but not limited to previous claims, accidents and penalty points. You must tell your insurance company about all penalty points, whether on your licence or not. Insurers now have full access to the Points Register and will check it.
If you make a claim under your policy and you have not disclosed your penalty points, it could affect the outcome of your claim.
In short, your best approach in this matter is to face up to the event and the consequences thereof.
Another important point you should be aware of relates to the ongoing carriage of penalty points in a lapsed licence. If your licence expires, time freezes on your penalty points. So, for example, if your licence lapses for six months and the points would have expired during that time, what will occur is that there will be a freeze on the points’ timeframe during that lapsed period. Time doesn’t run again until you revalidate your licence.
Wishing you safe motoring in the years ahead.
Karen Kearney is a litigation solicitor with Ernest J. Cantillon Solicitors. Ernest J. Cantillon Solicitors of the South Mall, Cork are an award winning law firm specialising in all areas of litigation.
They recently won the Ligation Case of the Year at the Irish Law Awards 2015 in recognition of the firm’s achievement in the case of Gill Russell v. HSE, a medical negligence claim in which they achieved damages of 13.5m, the highest ever awarded in Irish Personal Injury litigation at the time.