Motoring lawyer Jeanette Miller looks at what happens if you're involved in an accident with an uninsured or untraceable driver.
I was once in a car accident that wasn’t my fault, which happened in a supermarket car park.
When I approached the other driver for her insurance details I was devastated to hear she didn’t have insurance.
At the time I was a personal injury solicitor and knew there was a scheme to compensate victims of uninsured drivers.
I started the process of trying to pursue a claim for the damage from this organisation.
Motor Insurers' Bureau
The Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) was set up in 1946 as a means of compensating victims of accidents caused by drivers who either weren’t insured or can't be found.
The MIB is funded by all UK motor insurers through policy premiums.
It’s estimated that between £15 and £30 of each insured driver’s annual policy premium’s now being contributed this fund.
If the responsible party is uninsured
In accidents involving an uninsured driver, the MIB advises that the accident should be reported to the police within 14 days for claims involving personal injury.
For claims involving damage to property, such as damage to your car, get in touch within five days.
As with all claims for personal injury, your claim to the MIB must be made within three years from the date of the accident.
You might not have to pay an excess depending on when the accident happened.
If the responsible party can't be traced
The rules involving a driver who can’t be traced are slightly more troublesome.
The police can sometimes be uninterested in reports of accidents where there’s been no injury or the injury was minor but you should still report the accident.
Any claims for damage to property need to be made within nine months from the date of the accident.
If the other driver is untraceable, you may be subject to an excess of £300 if you claim on property damage or significant personal injury.
For more information, read the MIB’s section on claims and excess payments.
If after investigating the matter the MIB believe that you were at fault or partially at fault, your claim might be rejected or reduced accordingly.
The MIB won’t pay compensation purely because the other driver involved in the accident was uninsured or can’t be found.
Similarly, being uninsured when the accident was the fault of an insured driver doesn’t prevent you from claiming compensation.
As much as the MIB will help you, there are circumstances where you could be left in the lurch:
- The MIB won’t pay compensation if you were a passenger in a vehicle car which you knew or ought to have known wasn’t insured.
- They’ll also refuse to pay if you were a passenger in a vehicle being driven by a drink drink-driver.
- The accident must have happened on a public road or area to which the public and their vehicles have full access.
- The MIB may refuse to pay if an accident occurred on a private road or car park.
In my own case, because the accident was in a supermarket car park – which counts as private land - the damage caused to my car was exempt from the scheme.
I claimed for the majority of repairs from my insurance so I had to pay my excess and lost four years' no claims discount as well.
I was really unlucky to be caught by this exemption as in the vast majority of cases a compensation can be successfully pursued via the MIB, providing their rules are complied with.