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Car insurance is a legal requirement in the UK, yet thousands of drivers are caught driving without insurance every single year.
To drive a vehicle on UK roads, a minimum of Third-Party Only (TPO) insurance cover is required (we recommend getting fully comprehensive insurance). Failing to take out cover can lead to driving bans, fines and penalty points on your licence, and not only this, but it would incur further costs if you were involved in a car accident, such as the vehicles repairs, injury compensation and legal action which might have to be taken against the uninsured driver in the event of a road traffic accident.
In 2018, more than 79,000 uninsured drivers were caught in the UK – 872 were under the legal driving age of 17, with 2 offenders aged just 11. Studies also showed that the most common age to be caught driving without car insurance was 24. In the same year, the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) stated that there were over 26,000 personal injury claims paid out due to injuries caused by an untraceable driver.
Young and new drivers generally pay a lot more for car insurance than more experienced and older drivers – sometimes over £2,000 for one year of cover – which may give you some insight into why driving without insurance is common among this age group.
In 2017, the MIB reported that there could be as many as one million motorists driving while uninsured in the UK; a figure which not only puts other drivers at risk, but also increases the average cost of car insurance for the law-abiding citizens who do take out the correct cover.
Driving without insurance (UK) - What penalties could you face?
Is it against the law to drive without car insurance? Can you get banned for driving without it? What is the maximum fine for driving without motor insurance? Learn everything you need to know below:
Those who are caught driving without car insurance are handed an IN10 conviction, which comes with various penalties.
The punishment for driving without insurance can be severe, ranging from penalty points on your licence and a fine to complete driving bans.
The individual punishments vary and can be different for each circumstance. Those convicted of serious offences could end up going to court for driving without insurance, where a final decision will be made on their punishment.
As a rule of thumb, the penalty for driving without insurance includes:
- A fine – The maximum fine for driving without car insurance is £300, unless the case is taken to court.
- Penalty points – As well as a fine, drivers will usually be given 6 points on their licence. For some drivers (such as those who have held a licence for less than 2 years), this is enough to have their licence revoked.
Remember: Even if the car you’re driving is insured by somebody else, you will not be covered. Car insurance is provided on an individual basis and cannot be shared amongst drivers.
Court summons for driving without insurance can result in far more severe punishments, including:
- An unlimited fine – If serious enough to be taken to court, a case of driving without insurance has the potential to incur much higher fines, usually up to £5,000.
- Disqualification from driving – While driving bans for first offenders don’t often exceed 28 days, repeat offenders can face disqualification for significantly longer.
- Seized/destroyed vehicle – Even if the driver being punished is not the registered keeper of the vehicle, authorities could seize or destroy it.
The punishment for driving without car insurance doesn’t stop there though, with convicted drivers likely to find it hard to get cheap car insurance premiums for several years going forward.
There are also various costs associated with the original accident, as well as those attached to legal representation whilst at court – all of these costs (usually covered by a car insurance provider) will be placed at the feet of the convicted driver.
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Proving you have car insurance
Most people do not carry around their car insurance documents every day, so what happens if the police demand to see proof that you are covered?
If you are stopped by the police, but do not have an up-to-date insurance certificate on you, you will have 7 days to provide it to the police. This proof can be taken to any police station.
The certificate has to be valid at the time you were stopped, meaning you can’t simply buy insurance during the 7 days.
Failing to provide your insurance documents is against the law and could see you charged on 2 separate offences: firstly, for failing to provide a valid insurance document, and secondly, for driving without insurance.
If you drive a company car and you’re unsure where to find your insurance documents then get in touch with your employer as soon as possible. They may be able to provide these documents to the police on your behalf.
Can the police tell if you have no insurance?
Yes. The licence plate recognition cameras used by police in the UK allows them to see whether a car is insured, taxed and has an up-to-date MOT.
Offenders are caught regularly, so do not risk driving without insurance thinking that you won’t get caught – you almost certainly will.
Minimum insurance level – Third party only car insurance
Although not generally recommended, the absolute minimum level of car insurance that you are legally required to have is ‘Third Party Only’ (TPO) cover. This means that you are only covered for any damage caused to another person’s vehicle or property, and any injury you may cause to a third party.
If you want extra cover, you can choose to have Third Party, Fire & Theft (TPFT) insurance, which provides the same level of cover as TPO but has the additional benefits of protection against fire damage and theft (as well as any damage sustained as a result of an attempted theft).
The best level of cover available in the UK, however, is Fully Comprehensive car insurance, offering the same as TPFT insurance as well as protection for your own vehicle, medical expenses and legal expenses associated with an accident.
Driving without insurance – Special reasons
Some mitigating circumstances can help to reduce the severity of the punishment given for driving without insurance.
These circumstances are unlikely to allow the convicted driver to get away scot-free, but they could assist in preventing a driving ban or significant fine.
These reasons include (but are not limited to):
- Cancelled policy – If there is proof that an insurance provider has cancelled a policy without taking the correct steps to inform the policyholder.
- Provider mistakes – If the driver is not insured due to an error made by their insurance provider.
- Belief – If the relevant authorities realise that the driver has genuine reason for believing that they held adequate insurance.
Remember: Even if you are given the minimum punishment after giving evidence, you will still be affected by higher insurance premiums in the future.
Driving without insurance – Criminal record
As driving without car insurance is not an imprisonable offence, any convictions will not appear on a criminal record.
An IN10 conviction remains on a driving licence for 4 years, though, and needs to be disclosed to future insurers for 5 years.
READ MORE: Driving Offences vs Criminal Convictions
Convicted driver car insurance with Bobatoo
If you’ve been convicted of a motoring (or non-motoring) offence, you may be wondering how to find cheap car insurance for convicted drivers.
Luckily, Bobatoo works with a host of specialist providers that are able to offer great deals on car insurance, no matter what your individual circumstances may be.
Tap the button below to see convicted drivers insurance deals.