3 Uninsured drivers |
32. The Government has estimated that some 4% of
motorists drive, illegally, without insurance.
The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB), which administers the scheme
whereby motorists involved in accidents with uninsured drivers
can pursue claims for damages, told us that this figure compared
badly with other European countries.
The MIB is funded by a levy on insurers, which increased from
£39 million in 1991 to £417 million in 2008.
As a result, uninsured driving adds around £30 to the average
33. Although uninsured driving adds to the cost of
motor insurance it has not contributed to the recent steep increase
in premiums. The
MIB told us that driving without insurance has decreased by 20%
since 2006 due to the introduction of a motor insurance database
and better collaboration with police forces.
As a consequence, the MIB levy on insurers has reduced: MASS said
it was "surprising why insurers are not releasing money back
to their policy holders through reduced motor insurance premiums".
We welcome the action which has been taken in recent years to
reduce uninsured driving.
34. The Road Traffic Act 2006 made it an offence
to be a registered keeper of a vehicle on the road without insurance.
In order to enforce this offence, the Government has developed
a scheme (known as Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE)) to
enable the DVLA's list of registered keepers of vehicles to be
compared with insurers' records of which vehicles are insured.
The relevant regulations
were long in the gestation
but were finally published on 11 January, the day of our oral
evidence session with the Minister. He described the introduction
of CIE as "one of the most dramatic changes in motor insurance
... since insurance was brought in".
35. Under CIE:
- The DVLA will work in partnership
with the MIB to identify uninsured vehicles
- Registered keepers will receive a letter warning
them that they appear to own an uninsured vehicle and that they
risk being fined if it is not insured
- Keepers will be fined £100 if they fail
to insure their vehicle
- If the vehicle remains uninsured it could then
be seized and destroyed.
We have not received any detailed comments on the
regulations but in evidence submitted before they were published
witnesses were supportive of the Government's aims.
welcome the introduction of Continuous Insurance Enforcement:
it is a sensible measure which should help reduce the prevalence
of uninsured driving.
During our inquiry, however, we were told that 10% of drivers
under the age of 34 are unaware of the legal obligation to have
that the introduction of CIE should be accompanied by a promotional
campaign, aimed at young drivers, to alert them to the requirement
to have valid motor insurance. We also recommend that the first
letter sent to registered keepers who appear not to have motor
insurance should focus on reminding drivers of the legal requirement
to insure their vehicles and should not be based on the assumption
that all recipients have deliberately flouted the law. Once vehicle
owners have been reminded of the requirement to take out insurance
pursuit of those who fail to do so should be vigorous.
37. MASS suggested that the £100 penalty for
keeping a car without insurance is too low.
In addition, several witnesses argued that the penalty for driving
without insurance is also too low, particularly when compared
to the cost of insurance.
The current penalty is a fine of up to £5,000, 6 to 8 penalty
points and a period of disqualification but Confused.com said
the average penalty imposed by the courts for the offence is less
than £200. Current
sentencing guidelines state that for a first-time offender pleading
not guilty, an appropriate penalty would be a band C fine (equivalent
to 150% of weekly disposable income), 6 penalty points and a 12
month disqualification. As an alternative, the police can issue
a £200 fixed penalty as well as 6 penalty points on a driving
licence. Ashton West of the MIB pointed out that, in addition
to these penalties, the police may seize an uninsured vehicle
and return it only once a fee of £150 has been paid and proof
of valid insurance provided.
Around 180,000 cars were seized in 2009 because they were not
we can see the argument to increase the minimum penalties for
driving, and for keeping a car, without insurance, the Government's
focus should at this stage be on better enforcement of the existing
law. We recommend that the penalties for these offences should
be reviewed one year after CIE has been implemented.
84 CIE Evidence Base, DfT, paragraph 8: the AA's estimate
is 5%, Ev 64 paragraph 4.5.1. Also see Ev 84-85 and Ev w31 section
Ev 59-60 section 1, Q131 and CIE Evidence Base, DfT, paragraph
without adjustment for inflation; Ev 59, section 2. Back
Ev 64 paragraph 4.5.1. Back
Ev 59-60 section 2. Back
Ev 68 paragraph 5.2. Back
Section 22; see Ev 59-60 section 3, Ev 73 and Q130. Back
Motor Vehicles (Insurance Requirements) Regulations 2011. Back
See, for example, Transport Committee, Eleventh Report, 2007-08,
Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010,
HC 460, Q95. Back
vehicles with a valid Statutory Off Road Notification will be
For example, Ev 46 paragraph 1.7, Ev 71 paragraph3 and Ev w10
section 3. Back
Ev 59-60section 2. Back
Ev 68 paragraph 3.3.2. Back
Ev 68 paragraph 3.3.1, Qq 23, 132, Ev w6 paragraph 2.6 and Ev
w 31-32 section 10. Back
Ev 58 paragraph 7.3.1. Back
Qq132 and 296 (Minister). Back
CIE Evidence Base, DfT, paragraph 8. Back