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Certificate of Merit. What is it? And how can you get one?
Getting a driver’s licence ensures that you are qualified to drive. But along with that comes the responsibility of making sure you drive safely, not just for your sake but also for the sake of other road users.
To ensure that drivers are aware of this and keep safety uppermost on their minds while driving, the Traffic Police has instituted a system of rewards and punishments. In March 1983, the Traffic Police introduced the Driver Improvement Points System (DIPS).
How does the Driver Improvement System work?
Under Singapore’s DIPS, chalking up 24 demerit points or more within 24 consecutive months will result in a suspension of your driving licence for three months.
If you have been suspended before, your licence will be suspended again when you accumulate 12 points within 12 months of your last offence. Each suspension can last as long as three years. Where the suspension period is one year or longer, your driving licence will be invalidated. You will have to re-sit and pass the driving tests before you can obtain a driving licence and drive again.
For most drivers, the fear of racking up demerit points for traffic violations is a sufficient deterrent against reckless driving.
Certificate of Merit explained
Besides deterrents like demerit points, however, there are also incentives in place to encourage drivers to drive safely, such as the No Claim Discount and the Certificate of Merit. While most seasoned drivers will be familiar with the No Claim Discount, they may be less so with the Certificate of Merit (COM).
A COM is a document issued by the Traffic Police to attest that a motorist has been driving safely in Singapore for a period of time, and is, as a result, a low-risk driver. This could entitle you to a Safe Driver or Offence-free Discount with several insurance companies. This is over and above the No Claim Discount.
The COM is probably one of the best incentives to drivers to drive safely.
In order to qualify for a COM, your driving record must be free of traffic violations for at least three years. After three years of safe driving, you will be awarded the COM (given by the Traffic Police of Singapore through the Electronic Driver Data Information and Enquiry System). This may be used to claim a discount on car insurance premiums. If you commit an offence that results in demerit points in the three years prior to your insurance purchase, you will not be eligible for a Certificate of Merit.
Certificate of Merit and car insurance
When you buy car insurance, the insurance company will verify your eligibility for a COM through the Electronic Driver Data Information and Enquiry System. This means the certificate does not need to be printed out. Do note that it is also not transferable to a third party. This means that your spouse, son or daughter cannot make use of your COM. Neither can you make use of their COM.
The Safe Driver or Offence-free Discount will be toted up in addition to whichever No Claim Discount you are currently entitled to.
Note that you also have to maintain a claim-free record with your car insurer for a minimum of three years to be entitled to a No Claim Discount.
Therefore, if you wish to shave some money (a fair bit of it) off your car insurance, do make an effort to maintain a pristine driving record as that will enable you to qualify for discounts. This applies both to a Safe Driver Discount for driving safely on the road and having a Certificate of Merit, as well as to a No Claim Discount for not having made any insurance claims on your vehicle for over a year.
You can log into the Singapore Police e-services website to check your COM eligibility. You’ll need your SingPass and NRIC details.