With the rising cost of living and ever higher fuel prices, car insurance premiums can seem an unwelcome financial burden for motorists.
But car insurance is an essential expense. Not only does it give you protection in the event of an accident or theft, it’s also a legal requirement for all drivers on UK roads.
However, that doesn’t stop a significant number of people giving into temptation and driving without being properly insured.
Uninsured drivers in the UK
The Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) estimates that 2.8% of UK motorists drive without insurance, equating to around one million drivers.
They also revealed that more than 47,000 motorists were convicted of driving without insurance in the first half of 2015. They’re estimated to have cost innocent drivers around £400 million a year in payouts for accidents.
The penalties for driving without insurance are severe, reflecting the serious nature of the offence, and the cost to drivers and society at large.
Even if the car itself is insured, if you aren’t covered to drive it, you could face:
However, if the case goes to court, you could find yourself facing an unlimited fine and a disqualification from driving.
The police also have the power to seize and even destroy a vehicle that’s being driven without insurance.
Vehicles seized are only released upon payment of the fixed penalty and the presentation of a valid insurance certificate. If it’s not claimed within a set time, it may be disposed of.
Under the Road Safety Act 2006, motorists who kill or are involved in accidents while driving without insurance can be given harsher sentences.
If your car is off the road
That's not the end of the story, though. You don’t even have to be driving an uninsured vehicle to fall foul of the law.
Legislation called Continuous Insurance Enforcement means you must keep your vehicle insured, even if you’re not driving it, unless you’ve made a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
If you don’t have insurance and haven’t made a SORN, you could face a penalty, even if your car’s being kept on your driveway or in a garage.
The exceptions are:
If the vehicle has been kept off-road since before 31 January 1998 (when SORN came into existence).
If the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has recorded a vehicle as stolen, passed, sold, scrapped or permanently exported.
If the MIB discovers that your car is uninsured without a SORN, they’ll send you an Insurance Advisory Letter, which will advise on what you must do to avoid action from the DVLA.