Imagine driving along a quiet side street and from nowhere a scooter overtakes you and mistakenly knocks off your wing mirror. Worse still, you are hit from behind in a traffic pile up causing damage to both you and your car.
These situations are made a lot worse when you find out that the other driver has no insurance. What can you do? Who will pay for the damage to your car? And who pays for any injuries you might have incurred as a result of someone else’s bad driving?
Driving without insurance
Unscrupulous uninsured drivers are a huge burden to both the British driving public and to insurance companies. Those without insurance cause premiums to rise, making it more expensive for law-abiding drivers.
Around half a million motorists were fined (averaging £320) and given penalty points between 2010 and 2014, but this will be little consolation if you have been hit by an insured driver.
Sadly, uninsured or untraceable drivers are responsible for an estimated 130 deaths a year and almost 27,000 injuries – with London being the worst for uninsured drivers across the country, according to insurer Churchill.
What can you do?
In 1946, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) was created to compensate those who are victims of uninsured, negligent and untraced drivers. It is a not-for-profit organisation funded by insurance premiums paid by motorists through a levy on insurers. It is thought that between £15-30 of each driver’s premium contributes to this fund.
The MIB compensates for damage and personal injury, as long as the innocent driver has got legal insurance at the time of the accident. It doesn’t matter what level of insurance the innocent party has – be it comprehensive, third party fire and theft, or just third party – you can still receive help.
You’ll need to meet certain conditions to be eligible, such as having details of the uninsured driver’s car and proof that you are the wronged party. If possible, details of other eye-witnesses who could help support your case.
The incident needs to be reported to the police within 14 days for personal injury claims, or within five days for damage to property.
It must be noted that the MIB process can be very drawn out, sometimes taking up to a year for more complex cases to be resolved.
The rules when dealing with an untraceable driver are a bit more troublesome, as you will need to file a report even when there is no injury – which the police may not be very enthused about – just to claim damages on your vehicle.
Will your no claims bonus be affected?
If you walk out of the supermarket and witness an uninsured driver scrape an unsightly scratch along your car’s pristine paintwork, one of your initial thoughts is likely to be “what will happen to my no claims bonus if I need to make a claim?”
Recognising that it’s unfair to penalise policyholders for claims they weren’t responsible for, some insurers are now putting clauses in place which mean your no claims is protected from uninsured motorists.
Some will even waive your claim excess if the accident is clearly not your fault so you won’t lose any money. Both of these options however come with a down side in that your premiums will most likely increase at renewal.
When you claim, most insurers will often deduct your no claims bonus (or some of it at least) and ask you to pay the excess, but only while the claim is settled. Then they should refund your excess and restore your no claims bonus after the dispute is settled.
What if the accident is your fault?
If it is your fault, then you will be expected to pay for repair costs to both your car and theirs, even if they are uninsured. Your third party insurance should cover the repairs to the other person’s vehicle, but not your own. So unless you have comprehensive cover, you will have to fork out to repair your car.
However, they can still be prosecuted for not having legal insurance and the police have the power to seize their vehicle.