Driving without insurance is illegal and, some would say, immoral. But the threats of driving bans, fines and penalty points don’t seem to be enough to deter the thousands caught every year from doing so.
Once you realise that the culprits are often young men on low incomes, who insurers see as a high risk and charge a fortune for cover, it perhaps gives you an indication as to one of the main reasons they do.
Young drivers can pay a lot more for cover than more experienced motorists. Anyone who’s just past the driving test, and is in their late teens or early 20’s, might pay anywhere between £1,000 and £2,000 a year for car insurance.
For some, the fines are worth the risk
Unfortunately, the average fine for those driving without a licence was revealed by the AA last year to be only £299, making the risk worthwhile in the eyes of those who don’t mind breaking the law.
Such is the problem that one in 25 motorists in the UK is driving around uninsured, according to figures from the road safety charity Brake. And the chances of recovering compensation if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver are very low.
Penalties up to £5,000, points and a ban
If you do drive without cover, the penalty can be far higher than just a few hundred pounds however.
Here’s a reminder of what might be in store for those that do, and what level of insurance you’re legally required to have:
Minimum cover is third party liability cover
The minimum level of insurance you’re required to have by law if you drive a vehicle is third party liability cover.
This means you’re only covered for the damage you might cause to another vehicle or property, and any liability for causing injury.
Of course, beyond third party cover, you can choose to add fire and theft insurance, as well as fully comprehensive cover.
The maximum fine that can currently be levied if you’re caught driving without insurance is £5,000 and the minimum fine has just gone up to £300, from £200. You receive what’s called a ‘Fixed Penalty Notice’.
Points on your licence
The most likely outcome is that, as well as a fine, you will get 6 points on your licence. However, a maximum of 8 points can be applied. Once you reach 12 points, you’re automatically banned from driving.
You might also find that a court will disqualify you from driving for a set period immediately.
If you decide to fight the penalty points, and lose, you could end up with more points being applied than if you’d accepted the original number.
Car impounded and destroyed
The police have the power to impound any uninsured vehicle. If they do so, you’ll find they’ll only give it back once you’ve paid any fine and can prove you’ve bought the correct cover for your car .
They can even destroy the vehicle after a certainly amount of time has lapsed if you do not reclaim it.
Allowing someone else to drive
Even if you have a fully comprehensive policy, if you allow someone else to drive it who isn’t covered to do so (even if they say they are and you believe them), it’s you that’s liable.
Proving you’re covered
If you’re stopped and don’t have an up-to-date insurance certificate on you, you have 7 days to provide police with it.
The certificate has to be valid at the time you were stopped; you can’t simply buy insurance during the 7 days.
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Published 13 June 2014