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Esther Shaw

Don’t fall foul of continuous car insurance rules


Motorists are being urged to familiarise themselves with rules that require a car to be insured – even if it is no longer driven.

Continuous enforcement

Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) was introduced in June 2011, in a bid to crack down on uninsured drivers.

It requires every vehicle to either be insured or registered with the DVLA as off the road – technically known as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification).

But one year later and new research by the Post Office shows more than a fifth of drivers are still unaware of the rule change.

Inadvertent lawbreakers

Crucially, these motorists could be breaking the law without realising it and potentially putting themselves at risk of incurring a hefty fine.

"It appears many drivers are still in the dark about the new regulations," says Gerry Barrett, head of insurance at the Post Office.

"Previously it was not unlawful not to have car insurance if a motorist didn’t drive their vehicle.

"However, this has now changed."

When do the rules apply?

Most drivers are in the habit of buying a new insurance policy at renewal time.

But the rule change means you also need to give consideration to any vehicle that is laid up or kept in a garage for long periods of time.

This might, for example, be a motor home which you only use for the odd holiday, a motorbike which you only use in the summer, or a classic car which you only use occasionally.

All these vehicles now need to be insured unless formally declared SORN.

What are the penalties?

If you are caught without cover, you will receive a letter and a warning that you will be fined unless you take action.

Motorists can face a fixed penalty of £100 and receive a possible maximum fine of £1,000.

Drivers could also have their vehicle wheel-clamped, impounded or even destroyed.

Over the past year, more than 340,000 advisory letters and 120,000 fixed penalty notices have been issued.

Why was CIE introduced?

The new rules, which work by systematically comparing DVLA records with the Motor Insurance Database (MID), were brought in to tackle the many uninsured drivers who continue to plague the UK’s roads.

Uninsured driving costs more than £500m every year and adds £30 to the annual premium of each honest motorist.

That's according to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), a central fund which helps compensate victims of road accidents by negligent uninsured and untraced drivers.

The MIB says that on the anniversary of the introduction of CIE, the number of uninsured drivers has fallen to 1.2 million.

According to the MIB, this figure has reduced year-on-year since 2004-05 when it was 2 million.

Uninsured drivers

However, it acknowledges there is still a long way to go.

In fact, around one in 25 drivers are still uninsured, according to the AA.

"Every year, uninsured drivers kill 160 people and injure 23,000 which is one of the worst records in Europe," says Simon Douglas of the AA.

"It is vital motorists understand and comply with the new regulations."

Policy protection

Some insurers are currently advertising the fact that if policyholders are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver, and so need to claim on their own policy, this won’t affect any no-claims bonus.

However, insurance experts warn that this is a bit of a gimmick.

"If you’re hit by an uninsured driver, you can claim from the MIB, which means your no-claims bonus is unaffected," says Will Thomas, car insurance expert at .

"Equally, while your own insurer may well say that your no-claims bonus will remain unaffected if you claim on your own policy, you may find your premium rises anyway."

"This is because some insurers will raise the premium of a driver involved in a non-fault accident on the basis of data it holds which shows these motorists are more likely to be involved in an accident that is their fault in the next few years."

Stay on the right side of the law

The details of all insured vehicles should be on the MID. 

You can check your motor insurance details are on the database and correct at askMID.


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