Car insurance

Car insurers should reward safe young drivers

9 June 2009

Insurers should recognise efforts by young drivers who are seeking to improve their driving standards, Simon Douglas, director of AA Car Insurance told an insurance industry conference this week.

Mr Douglas was a panellist at the Association of British Insurers' biennial conference in the session: 'Motor Insurance – the road ahead'. He urged insurers to reward young drivers who can demonstrate that they are improving their driving safety and thus reducing the risk of making a claim.

High insurance costs

He points out that young drivers face very high insurance costs when they buy their first car and for good reason. "The records speak for themselves. One out of every five young drivers suffers a crash within their first year of driving and young drivers are 10 times more likely to be involved in a serious collision than experienced drivers.

Reward the responsible

"But that doesn't mean all young drivers are reckless or careless when behind the wheel. I believe the industry must work together to find a formula that recognises those who are able to demonstrate they take a responsible approach to driving.

"This has been talked about for years and it's now time for action."

Drive Smart

Simon Douglas cites as an example an initiative that has seen the AA team up with the police to tackle teenage road deaths.

The scheme targets at-risk drivers who are offered free driver safety training. Police identify young drivers whose record (such as speeding, mobile phone offences, not wearing seatbelts) suggests they are a danger to themselves and others and puts them forward for Drive Smart training courses developed by the new AA Charitable Trust and AA Driving School.

The scheme was launched last month in North Wales and is being rolled out to other police forces. The AA Charitable Trust will be funding at least 2,000 free courses across the country.

The training, which has the support of Government ministers, involves two hour-long sessions which focus on improving safety as well as 'eco-driving' techniques to cut fuel consumption and thus emissions. The course is also available from the AA Driving School to anyone outside of the charity's qualifying criteria.

Simon Douglas points out: "Sessions such as this can help those most at risk – and thus those most likely to make an insurance claim – become safer, more responsible drivers, reducing the danger they present to themselves and others.

Reducing competitiveness

"Good, safe drivers should be rewarded and the insurance industry is well placed to provide incentives that encourage responsible driving. Of course, young drivers eventually become experienced and less risky drivers and can become loyal customers, yet many insurers won't offer cover for drivers under 21 or even 25. This is reducing competitiveness in this sector which is in turn driving up premiums and therefore encouraging fraud, such as fronting, which has become a significant issue for the industry.

"It's disappointing that while both the police and the government recognise the benefit of training courses such as Drive Smart in reducing accident rates among high-risk young drivers, the insurance industry so far has not.

More targeted driver training

"Perhaps it's time for greater investment in targeted driver training at a younger age to enable new drivers to get on the road safely and responsibly, help reduce claims and make insurance more affordable."

Join the discussion in the AA zone


12 June 2009