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Police clampdown on uninsured drivers

Written by: Emma Lunn
Operation Drive Insured will see enhanced enforcement activity by police to reduce the level of uninsured vehicles on UK roads.

According to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), uninsured and untraced drivers cause nearly one in every five road traffic collisions, and push up insurance costs for law-abiding motorists.

The MIB compensates victims of uninsured drivers and has seen claims fall 26% since 2016. However, there are concerns the economic impact of Covid-19 could cause more people to risk driving without insurance.

Am I insured if I drive to work?

The pandemic has seen some people who normally get the train to work drive instead.

When you take out insurance you’ll be asked what you use your car for. If you state “social and domestic” and not “commuting”, you won’t normally be covered for driving to work.

But the Association of British Insurers (ABI) stated at the onset of the pandemic that: “If you have to drive to your workplace because of the impact of Covid-19, your insurance policy will still be valid. You do not need to contact your insurer to update your documents or extend your cover.”

The pledge will be in force until at least 31 December 2020 and applies to insurance companies which are ABI members.

If you are using your car for commuting into the New Year, but are not normally insured for driving to work, you should speak to your insurer.

Driving without insurance

Driving without insurance is a criminal offence with severe consequences. The minimum penalty is six points on your licence and a £300 fine.

Police can stop any driver under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 – they don’t need a reason – and can ask the driver to produce insurance and licence documents.

Each year more than 130 people in the UK are killed and 26,000 are left injured in collisions caused by uninsured and untraced drivers.

Evidence also shows drivers without insurance are more likely to commit a hit and run and be involved in other crimes, such as using a stolen vehicle, driving while disqualified, or substance abuse.

MIB, which is funded by insurers and ultimately consumers to provide financial support to victims of uninsured and untraced collisions, paid out £322m in compensation in 2019.

Anna Fleming, chief operating officer at MIB, said: “We’ve made great strides in getting more people to drive insured in recent years, but the sad reality is with Covid-19 putting so many people under financial strain, uninsured driving levels could creep up. Everyone suffers the consequences of uninsured driving. We’re fully committed to our partnership with the police so we can get as many people as possible to drive insured to make roads safer and fairer for everyone.”

Last year 137,410 vehicles were seized for no insurance which equated to one seizure every four minutes.

Police can access the Motor Insurance Database (MID) which is a central record of all live motor insurance policies, to check if a vehicle is insured or not. If disputed by the driver, MIB can liaise with insurers to confirm if valid insurance exists.

Drivers without insurance face their vehicle being seized and potentially crushed, along with a £300 fixed penalty notice and six licence points.

They can also be referred to court and face an unlimited fine and a driving ban. Uninsured convictions also show on basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks which can impact employment prospects.

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