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Fine Gael Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Insurance companies to have full access to drivers' offences

The measures mean that insurance companies will be able to take serious offences into account when applying a loading on an insurance policy for penalty points.

TRANSPORT MINISTER LEO Varadkar has announced that insurance companies will soon have full access to details of serious offences which have incurred penalty points.

This will be the first time this is the case, following a decision by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. He said that this new measure will give insurance companies reliable and up-to-date information from the National Vehicle Driver File (NVDF) on serious offences which have incurred penalty points.

Insurance companies already have access to the NVDF to verify the number of penalty points incurred by individual drivers, but will now be able to determine whether an offence involved drink driving, speeding, using a mobile phone, or any of the 13 specific categories of serious offence.

Currently, insurance companies apply for a loading on an insurance policy according to the number of penalty points, rather than the nature of the offence. Thanks to this move, insurance companies will be able to take serious offences into account when applying this loading.

However, the Department said it “has reserved the right to reconsider this measure if insurance companies do not adequately reward safe drivers”.

Rewarding motorists

Minister Varadkar said:

This is about road safety, and rewarding motorists for safe behaviour. Last year was the safest ever on Irish roads, but it’s vital that we don’t let the good work go to waste. That’s why we have to keep our focus on developing new measures and new policies to keep a solid focus on road safety, and to save lives. This measure is about road safety, and rewarding motorists for safe behaviour.

By providing details of points incurred for serious offences, it has the potential to lead to lower insurance premiums for safer drivers, said the Department. This measure was included in the Road Traffic Act 2010 and passed into law when Minister Varadkar signed a Statutory Instrument in late 2012.

There are currently 2.67 million licenced drivers in Ireland, of whom 487, 000 have penalty points. Around 80 per cent of these drivers have fewer than four points.

In 2012, around 200,500 penalty point notices were issued to 179, 000 drivers. So far this year, 5,015 penalty point notices have already been issued to 4,971 drivers.

The National Vehicle Driver File section of the Department of Transport has been working with the Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) to implement this measure.  The new system will be implemented on a phased basis over the next few months.

Later this year the Department of Transport will launch the new Road Safety Strategy as part of a major EU conference.

Read: Road deaths down 57% in last six years>

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