It comes as no surprise that the Coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted millions of people’s finances this year, so with many drivers potentially facing difficulty when it comes to paying for car insurance, authorities fear that the number of uninsured drivers on UK roads may rise.
According to the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB), 130 people are killed and 26,000 sustain injuries by uninsured drivers every year, meaning that roughly one in every five road traffic accidents are caused by motorists that don't have insurance in place.
As a result, this increases the cost of insurance premiums for all motorists, meaning that even the most law-abiding drivers are punished for the actions of uninsured drivers. This is why the police use ANPR technology to detect those driving around without insurance in order to make things as fair as possible for all UK drivers.
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Driving during Covid-19 – Are you fully covered?
There’s no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way that people travel, particularly when commuting to work. Many people no longer need to make the journey to and from their workplace due to remote working measures, while others are now driving to work instead of getting public transport to avoid close interaction with others.
When you normally take out car insurance, your insurer will want to know what you use your vehicle for - i.e. whether you use it for social and domestic purposes only or you need to add commuting to your policy as well - maybe even business use if that suits your circumstances.
If you took out a policy for social and domestic purposes, but you also use it for commuting and haven’t declared this to your insurance company, your policy would normally be invalidated in the event of an accident, meaning that your premiums will have gone to waste and you’ll have to fork out for the costs of damage and injuries yourself.
Due to the significant disruption that Covid-19 has caused, however, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) made it clear during the start of the pandemic that insurance policies will still be valid in the event that motorists now need to drive to work due to Covid-19, and they do not need to inform their insurer to alter their policy.
This support will only last until 31st December when this pledge will be revised in line with the Coronavirus situation and it only applies to people who are insured with companies that are members of the ABI.
If you think that you will need to use your car for commuting purposes in January 2021, despite not being covered for this on your policy, you should get in touch with your insurer to double-check whether or not you will be fully protected when the time comes around.
Driving with no insurance – The penalties
Under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, Police can stop vehicles at any time without any reason in order to ask for insurance and driving licence documents.
It is easy for the Police to detect uninsured drivers on UK roads with their unique ANPR (automatic number-plate recognition) technology and they have the right to seize uninsured vehicles on the spot – in some cases, they may decide to crush the vehicle.
On top of this, if you are caught driving without insurance, the minimum fine you will receive is £300 and 6 penalty points will be placed on your licence, leaving an IN10 conviction on your record - this will increase the price of your future premiums and could potentially interfere with future job applications.
Depending on the situation, the convicted driver may need to attend a court hearing and face unlimited fines as well as a driving ban.
Read more: Am I Insured? – Ask MID
Uninsured drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents
Last year, as many as 137,410 uninsured vehicles were seized by the police, equating to around one vehicle being seized every four minutes according to the MIB, and a total of £322 million was paid out for accidents involving uninsured drivers.
As a result, all drivers are expected to pay more for their insurance to account for this loss, meaning that sensible, law-abiding drivers face higher premiums for no reason.
Additionally, other evidence and statistics show that uninsured drivers are more likely to be involved in hit and run accidents and other incidents such as stealing vehicles, drink or drug driving or driving while disqualified.
What’s been said?
The chief operating officer at MIB has stated that they have “made great strides in getting more people to drive insured in recent years, but the sad reality is with Covid-19 putting so many people under financial strain, uninsured driving levels could creep up. Everyone suffers the consequences of uninsured driving. We’re fully committed to our partnership with the policy so we can get as many people as possible to drive insured to make roads safer and fairer for everyone.”
In addition to their ANPR technology, the police are also able to use the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to check the insurance status of a vehicle, and so can anyone else. If a vehicle is found to be uninsured but the driver wants to dispute this, the MIB will then need to check your insurance status with the insurer.
If you are unsure whether or not your vehicle has insurance or you want to check the insurance of another vehicle in the event of an incident, simply visit the AskMID website.
How to Save on Car Insurance
If your finances have been negatively affected this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that you do not drive around uninsured because you are unable to afford the premiums.
There are plenty of ways to help you save on the cost of cover – one being that you should always shop around and compare quotes online with a few comparison sites and by contacting insurers directly (particularly those not on comparison sites).
For more tips on how to save on car insurance, read our 10 useful tips and tricks or see our related guides below. To start comparing quotes now to see how much you could be saving by switching, tap the button: