Are points no longer important?

I’m intrigued by the publicity around the decision by motor insurance brokers,   (no press release yet on its site), that driving licence points will no longer automatically contribute towards insurance premium calculations.

Meanwhile, reports that the Green party in London aims to introduce 20mph speed limits throughout London.  In which case, even more people could end up with points on their licences (and potentially damage vehicles that frankly aren’t designed to continously run at such low speeds).

What is the message conveyed about road safety and speeding?  Are points no longer a sufficient indicator of poor risk motorists (or is this a good marketing ploy by Swinton)?  

Does reducing congestion mean that lower speed limits need to be imposed to counter more freely flowing traffic?

If there are millions of motorists who now have points on their licences, is this devaluing their use as a behaviour modification approach?  Or if you are verging on losing your licence, are you likely to be more cautious on the roads?

I had a discussion with an insurance company earlier this week regarding increased premiums for business driving.  Apparently this is because it is assumed business driving involves travelling to new places which is a greater accident risk than driving the same route to work every day.  But doesn’t routinely doing the same journey make us complacent whereas on unfamiliar roads we’d be more attentive?

I don’t know whether relevant data is collected, but it seems to me that insurance and risk management relies on a bit of data, a bit of supposition, a bit of marketing and an eye on the competition.

The other thing I find bizarre about our current car insurance system is that although good drivers build up no-claims discount, this doesn’t extend to a second car, which have to build up an additional NCD.  Why do the rules sometimes apply to people and sometimes to cars?  Seems to me that the insurance companies make things up to suit themselves.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

7 thoughts on “Are points no longer important?”

  1. The other big insurance puzzle is that when you first pass your motorcycle test and look for insurance, your 4-wheel NCD doesn’t count – but if you crash your car it affects your motorcycle premium. Heads they win, tails you lose…..

  2. Heather, a very interesting post, I can’t imagine a 20mph speed limit in London getting passed.

    I shall be driving in Greece next month. I am going for a week with my mother and we have a hire car booked at the aiport. I have to drive around 2 hours to our hotel at the foothills of Mount Athos. Is there a reliable European online site that you would recommend to download a route in advance?

    Even though my mother is Greek, I cannot rely on her to navigate, she likes to put her feet on the dashboard to sunbathe her legs. Driving in Greece is quite an experience, believe me, I have done it before.

  3. I’m struggling to see the purpose of this release from Swinton – isn’t this old news? A lot of insurance companies in the past have produced pseudo-news about this type of thing, conducting surveys to show how many of their customers have points on their licence, and how they will no longer be taking points into account when judging risk because so many people have already got points. What makes Swinton’s story any different to the others? What do you think their objectives were when producing this release?

  4. Richard A. ‘Pseudo-news’ I love it. I’ve long struggled with what to call the daft stuff that invades our so-called news programmes (they should be called here is the 10 o’clock Comment). This kind of thing ranks up there with the survey result press releases, which are statistically unsound and for the most part uninteresting.

  5. I can’t take credit for the term, I’m afraid. However, I’m sure my tutor will correct me if I have not used it correctly!!!

  6. Richard – Swinton was aiming for publicity – and I’m afraid that recycling “stories” is another common tactic of the lazy PR person.

    I believe idea of pseudo news was that of Daniel Boorstin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_J._Boorstin) in “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America” in 1961. I’ve never read it, but it seems like an interesting early perspective on the “fluff” or hyper-reality created by modern media with assistance from PR and advertisers.

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