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What do I do if I'm hit by an uninsured driver?

Despite car insurance being a legal requirement in order to drive on UK roads, you will still find a surprising number of uninsured drivers behind the wheel. Unfortunately, given the number of drivers without insurance and the sheer volume of traffic on UK roads, instances of uninsured drivers colliding with other road-users are bound to occur from time-to-time. Some estimates say that as many as one in twenty motorists have been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, and that this will add between £15 and £30* to the average premium paid by conscientious motorists.

What do I do at the time of the accident?

Any motorist that collides with you is unlikely to admit that they have no car insurance. To that end, you should endeavour to collect as much information as possible, including the following:

1.    The other driver’s vehicle make and model, and registration number. This is really the most important piece of information to collect, as if the driver is uninsured, then any name or address that they give you could be false.

2.    The driver’s name and address. Your insurance company will require this for all accidents.

3.    Take notes regarding the damage to the other vehicle involved.

4.    Take note of as much detail about the accident scene itself as you can – including road markings, weather and light conditions, whether the cars had their lights on, signals being made by cars at the time etc.

5.    If there are any independent witnesses, be sure to get their contact details in order to collect statements.

6.    If you have a camera, take lots of shots of the scene – and try to get the other driver in there.  Remember, your mobile phone can be handy for this too.

Should I call the police?

You should call the police as a matter of course if any of the vehicles are causing an obstruction, there is bodily injury, or you have hit third party property such as a wall. They will file an accident report, and a copy of this will prove handy when dealing with any other parties later involved with the incident – such as your insurance company.

If you do call the police, then they will request that the drivers involved produces their license, certificate of insurance and MoT certificate, in order to ensure that they are legally permitted to be on the road.

However, if the incident does not warrant a call to the police and you suspect the other driver in uninsured, inform your insurer and do not take matters into your own hands. Insurance companies have tools to see if an insurance policy on a particular car has been taken out, or can otherwise make inquiries based on the registered keeper of the vehicle.

How will my level of cover affect my claim?

In the event that you are hit by an uninsured driver, you will be in a far better position if you have comprehensive car insurance. You may lose your no claims bonus, but at least your insurance company will pay for the repair of your car. You will probably have to pay the excess too, unless you have a policy which waives the excess payment if you’re hit by an uninsured motorist.

Things get a lot trickier if you only have third party cover. Your repairs will not be covered by your car insurance company, and any offers of informal compensation from the other driver may well not be honoured – especially if the damage to your vehicle is likely to be expensive to repair. You may not even be able to trace the driver. If you do, there is no guarantee that they will cover your costs – even if taken to court. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) will be your only recourse in this instance and your insurer can give you advice on the best way to proceed..

The MIB is a company which enters into agreements with the government to compensate the victims of negligent uninsured and untraced motorists. If you choose to seek compensation via the MIB, then you will have to have an accident report. The MIB seek to compensate victims fairly and promptly. However, bear in mind that any claim made will be reduced by £300 – a bit like an excess payment. So if one claims for damage to the value of £500, then they will receive £200 in compensation payment.

 * Motor Insurers’ Bureau figures, May 2007. They add: “the cost continues to rise in the light of increasing levels of compensation, legal costs and changes in legislation”.

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