Drive dangerously and pay the price

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June 15, 2011

The number of speeding fines and drunk drivers caught over the Queen's Birthday long weekend in NSW was significantly less than this time last year, the NSW Police Force says. Yet three lives were lost in NSW over the long weekend.

Over the three-day break 3412 motorists were caught driving at above the speed limit and 237 drivers over the legal blood-alcohol limit, as police targeted dangerous driving behaviour on the state's roads.

While that was 1068 fewer fines issued for speeding and 199 less drink-driving offences recorded, it's way too many. And if the safety aspect alone doesn't convince drivers, maybe this timely reminder that dangerous driving can cost a lot more than a hefty fine will assist.

The financial costs of driving dangerously
What many drivers may not realise is that a dangerous driving offence or losing your licence could double your comprehensive car insurance excess.

Damian Smith, chief executive of RateCity, says that comprehensive car insurance providers won't directly penalise their customers for losing a few demerit points from speeding if your licence is intact. But that dangerous driving or loss of licence could double your excess.

That's because insurers can charge drivers extra or even refuse cover in some circumstances at their discretion.

"Many drivers may not realise that losing all of your points or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol could impact the cost of your comprehensive car insurance for the next five years or longer, depending on your car insurance provider," he says.

Those most at risk of paying higher excess include drivers who have lost their licence or have restrictions because they are seen as being a greater risk to insure. Some of the biggest players in the country are able to double your excess at their discretion, according to information supplied during a mystery shopping exercise.

Know what you're signing up for
Clearly it pays to shop around and compare comprehensive car insurance rather than simply selecting cover on price alone, Smith insists.

"The number-one reason for driving within the rules is of course your safety and that of other road users. But dangerous driving can end up costing you financially," he says.

That's because dangerous driving could mean paying an inflated price over the next five years, but also
you may be restricted in terms of the services and benefits an insurer will offer. So shop around for a good deal on comprehensive car insurance and compare the costs of premiums, excesses and features before you sign up.


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