Drivers who opt to take a speed awareness course instead of accepting a three-point penalty and £100 fine for a first time speeding offence are wrongly being charged higher insurance premiums, experts argue.

Experts are now saying that insurance premiums can rise by between 10% and 30% depending on your insurer, as some can increase the amount even though no points are added to a license.

The course is offered to drivers who are caught speeding between 10% plus 2 and 10% plus 9 of the legal limit by most police forces. This means if you are caught driving between 35 mph and 42 mph in a 30 mph zone, or between 79 mph and 86 mph in a 70 mph zone.

According to figures from the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme nearly 1.2 million drivers completed the speed awareness course in 2014 alone, but few motorists will realise that their insurance premiums could be increased.

Taking the course means that police do not record your speeding offence as a conviction.

Experts say that although those who have committed a speeding offence are more likely to go on to make a fault claim, drivers who take a speed awareness course go on to be better drivers and are therefore less likely to make a fault claim.

Julie Robertson, the head of the driving offences team at law firm Simpson Millar, says: "There is no question that having taken part in a speeding course can, and often will, inflate a person's insurance premium - sometimes quite substantially.

"Several of my clients have reported significant rises in their insurance premiums after they attended a speeding course, and subsequently informed their insurer. Clearly, it is interpreted as an element of enhanced risk despite the fact that it might actually be the opposite."

The Department of Transport is currently carrying out a study to find out whether attending a speed awareness course makes drivers aware of the dangers of speeding.

According to the AA, insurance costs could be increased by 12.2% because of a first speeding conviction, and a second offence could cause a rise of 34.1%.

Offending drivers who decide to take the course instead of the fine aren't saving much money, as the typical cost is around £85, and courses can only be taken once every three years, meaning a repeat offence will mean taking the points.

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Motorists are advised to shop around for the best deal and to check whether or not the insurer will increase insurance premiums in the case of taking a speed awareness course.

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