Driving a vehicle on a road or in a public place without insurance against third party risk is an offence. You need to be correctly insured for the vehicle you intend to drive or you could face a fixed penalty notice.
The cost to you
Uninsured drivers inflict a major financial burden on other motorists, estimated at around £380 million each year or around £30 of the cost of each insurance premium. The damage caused in road traffic accident results in large number of claims for settlement by the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB).
Uninsured drivers also impose other costs on society. Research and surveys show that uninsured drivers are more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents, fail to follow road traffic signs and signals and potentially be involved in other criminal activity.
The uninsured drivers agreement between the Government and the MIB ensures that the innocent victims of uninsured drivers don't go uncompensated. The agreement provides arrangements for the MIB to pay compensation to those who suffer personal injury or damage to their property as a result of a motor vehicle accident.
In the case of untraced drivers, compensation can only be claimed for damage to property where the vehicle concerned has been identified.
- Download 'Untraced Drivers Agreement 2003' (PDF, 239K)
- Download 'Uninsured Drivers Agreement 1999' (PDF, 149K)
Compliance and enforcement
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced a package of measures to crack down on the estimated two million motorists on our roads driving without insurance. The measures followed the recommendations of Professor David Greenaways review of motor insurance in the UK.
The DfT is in continuing discussions with the police and the insurance industry to work out the most effective way to crack down on uninsured driving. Provisions in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 enable the police to use their access to the Motor Insurance Database in conjunction with their Automatic Number Plate Reading equipment. As a result the police are now seizing around 1,500 uninsured vehicles per week.
The continuous insurance enforcement scheme provides a new fixed penalty for people who ignore official reminders that their insurance has expired. This applies to vehicles that are not declared as being off the road through SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) and not insured. Continuing offenders risk having their vehicle seized and destroyed.
Where a motor vehicle isn't used on a road or other public place, there's no requirement to purchase insurance cover for 'on road risk' as long as a SORN declaration has been made.
The seriousness of the offence is reflected in the level of the maximum fine of £5,000, and the automatic endorsement of an offender's licence with six to eight penalty points. The courts can order the immediate disqualification of the offender. The police also have wide powers to stop vehicles and inspect certificates, and this leads to around 300,000 convictions for uninsured driving every year.
Driving without insurance can be punishable within the fixed penalty system. The fixed penalty of £200 and six penalty points allows a more thorough enforcement of this offence. The possibility of a fixed penalty gives the police an extra option for dealing with the offence concerned, but it doesn't prevent the police's ability to prosecute in appropriate cases when they consider that to be the best course of action.
The police have the power to seize, and in some cases, destroy the vehicle that's being driven uninsured. Any vehicle seized under these powers will only be released on payment of the fixed penalty and must show a valid insurance certificate. The vehicle will only be released to the registered keeper of the vehicle or, if there's no registered keeper, to the person appearing to be the owner. The police can dispose of vehicles not claimed within a set time.
The Road Safety Act 2006 makes provision for harsher sentences for those who kill or are involved in accidents while driving uninsured.
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