Legal blogger Jeanette Miller looks at what happens if you're involved in a road accident with an uninsured or untraceable motorist.
I was once the unfortunate victim of a car accident that wasn’t my fault.
The accident happened in a supermarket car park.
When I approached the other driver for her insurance detail I was devastated to hear her tell me that she didn’t have insurance.
At the time I was just at the beginning of my career as 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 the victims of road traffic accidents caused by drivers who either were not insured or cannot be traced.
The MIB is funded by all UK motor insurers through policy premiums.
It is estimated that between £15 and £30 of each insured driver’s annual policy premium is 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 or within five days if your claim involves damage to property, such as vehicle damage.
As with all claims for personal injury, your claim to the MIB must be made within three years from the date of the accident.
Your claim for property damage will be subject to an excess of £300.
If the responsible party can't be traced
The rules involving a driver who cannot be traced are slightly more onerous.
You must report the accident to the police within 14 days for claims involving personal injury or within five days if your claim involves damage to property.
This can sometimes be a challenge as the police can sometimes be uninterested in reports of accidents where there has been no injury or the injury was of a minor nature.
You must make your claim for damage to property within nine months from the date of the accident.
Damage to property will be subject to an excess of £300 but will not be paid by the MIB if it is not possible to identify the other vehicle.
If after investigating the matter the MIB believe that you were at fault or partially at fault, your claim may be rejected or reduced accordingly.
Therefore, the MIB will not pay compensation purely because the other driver involved in the accident was uninsured or cannot be traced.
Similarly, being uninsured when the accident was the fault of an insured driver does not prevent you from claiming compensation.
The MIB will not pay compensation if you were a passenger in a vehicle which you knew or ought to have known was not insured.
They will also refuse to pay out compensation if you were a passenger in a vehicle being driven by a drink driver as they suggest that in these circumstances you have consented to the risk of injury by getting into the car in the first place.
The accident must have occurred on a public road or area to which the public and their vehicles full access.
The MIB may refuse to pay compensation if an accident occurred on a private road or car park.
In my own case, because the accident was on the private land of the supermarket car park, 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 claim can be successfully pursued via the MIB, providing their rules are complied with.
Motor lawyer Jeanette Miller, is a senior partner at JS Miller Solicitors, a UK firm specialising in personal injury cases.