Don’t welch on your car insurance

More than two million warning letters have been sent out over the past three years to people who do not appear to have motor insurance.
The owner of a Peugeot who lives in Anglesey, in Wales, has the dubious honour of receiving the landmark number two million. The letters are part of the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) scheme, which was introduced in 2011 and aims to rid our roads of the scourge of uninsured drivers. The AA estimates that one in 25 motorists drive without insurance - that’s about one million vehicles. And it’s not a victimless crime: uninsured and untraced drivers kill 130 people and injure 26,500 every year.

Criminal activity

Research also shows that uninsured drivers are five times more likely to be involved in road collisions, to fail to comply with other road traffic regulations, and to be engaged in other criminal activity. There’s a financial cost, too. Uninsured drivers are thought to push up the cost of every motor policy by £33 , according to the AA, adding to the financial burden of honest motorists.

No excuse

Under CIE rules, if you are the registered keeper of a vehicle, you must have insurance in place at all times, unless you have declared the vehicle off the road with a statutory off-road notification (SORN) to the DVLA. In other words, if you own a car, it must be insured even if it spends most or even all of the time on your driveway. In fact, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which runs the scheme along with the DVLA, has no truck with lame excuses – and it’s heard plenty. “I’ve got a motorbike that I only ride in the summer”, is just one example. Or how about: “I’m waiting to pass my test so my parents haven’t insured my new car yet.”

Allied forces

To help bring uninsured drivers to book, the police and the insurance sector are working together to identify those who are breaking the law. Roadside cameras that can recognise registration plates are being aligned with a central car insurance database, immediately flagging up an uninsured vehicle – hence the two million letters in the post rather than drivers being flagged down by the boys in blue.

Severe penalties

The penalties are severe if you break the rules. The owner of a car without insurance is automatically slapped with a fixed penalty of £100. The vehicle could also be clamped, seized and destroyed. You could even end up in court with a fine of up to £1,000. If you are caught driving without insurance, the fixed penalty is £300 and the vehicle will be seized by the police. You will also have to pay to recover the vehicle and you can expect six penalty points on your licence and possible disqualification.

Insurance impact

Don’t forget either that insurers don’t like drivers with convictions. So if you do eventually decide to comply with the law and insure your car, you will pay a high price. Robert Goodwill, transport minister, says: “We introduced tough new laws in 2011 to tackle uninsured drivers who are not only a danger on our roads but also increase insurance premiums for honest motorists. “The scheme has been a partial success but there is still more to be done.”

Penalties and prosecutions

A third of the two million recipients of the warning letters have gone on to receive a fixed penalty notice. There are also about 6,000 prosecutions a month. So, if you don’t want to end up as a statistic, here are a few simple steps to ensure you remain the right side of the law….
  1. Your vehicle must be insured unless you have a SORN, no matter how often you drive or where you keep the vehicle.
  2. Check that your vehicle is on the Motor Insurance Database by visiting the website
  3. Make sure you personal and vehicle details are correct on your insurance policy.
  4. Notify the DVLA if you are no longer the registered keeper of the vehicle.

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