Distracted driving has overtaken speeding as one of costliest behaviours when it comes to UK motorists’ premium costs, data from LV= Broker and Octo Telematics has revealed.
Drivers caught using their mobile phone while behind the wheel could be looking at an increase of more than 30% in their motor insurance premiums, the firms have calculated.
As well as costly premiums, the penalty for a distracted driving ticket – officially known as a CU 80 fine – doubled in March last year from £100 and three penalty points, to £200 and six points.
However, it seems that the potential hit to the wallet is still not stopping some drivers: more than 26,000 motorists have been caught using a handheld mobile phone while driving in the year since harsher penalties came into force, the Department for Transport revealed last week.
“I think the key challenge we have here is that as we become increasingly connected as individuals and as a society, there are many more things that can distract us,” Jonathan Hewett, Group CMO at Octo Telematics, told Insurance Business.
“It’s a very real issue, and I think it’s only going to get worse as distractions in cars increase – whether its Waze, Facebook, LinkedIn, or even linking Apple Music to your vehicle, these are all taking away from the basic but very important act of driving.”
It’s a trend that insurers are taking seriously, with distracted driving now “carrying a heavier insurance loading” than speeding, says Hewett. However, many consumers remain unaware of the potential effect on their premiums.
“The financial penalty is big…it’s a large amount of money added to already high motoring costs in this country,” he said.
“But there’s a general lack of understanding of how premiums are calculated in the first place. I think people would be surprised that a conviction for distracted driving weighs more heavily on their premium than speeding.”
With motor insurance having become increasingly commodified in the UK, brokers and insurers have a chance to add value to their services by helping drivers better understand how their behaviour can affect their bank balance.
“There needs to be broader or more transparent conversation between insurers and their insureds as to what makes up the premium price, and that safe driving is rewarding with lower premiums and with cheaper deals at renewal,” Hewett said.
“I think these are things that particularly brokers, with the relationships that they have with their customers through face-to-face or over-the-phone discussions, are able to explain.”