/ Money

Are we tough enough on uninsured drivers?

Two cars in crash

New research claims law-abiding drivers pay an extra £50 a year for their car insurance, all to cover the risk posed by fraudsters and uninsured motorists. A price worth paying, or are we too soft on rule breakers?

Car insurance premiums are a pain, aren’t they? Shelling out a few hundred quid for a financial product you may never use (assuming you’re lucky enough not to have to claim) certainly hurts. Particularly when you can’t help but imagine the shoes/handbag/football season ticket you could have bought instead.

Yet car insurance (at least third party cover) is a legal requirement for all drivers. So, the majority of us put dreams of Manolo Blahniks aside, dig deep and foot the bill.

Footing the bill for uninsured drivers

But according to the AA, as many as one in 20 people drive without car insurance. This means there could be up to two million uninsured drivers on Britain’s roads.

What’s more, they’re costing the insurance industry £1.25 billion a year, The Co-Operative Insurance claims. And law-abiding drivers are paying around £50 annually to cover the risk posed by uninsured drivers, or those who commit insurance fraud.

Unless you have fully comprehensive cover of your own, being hit by an uninsured driver could leave you seriously out of pocket, or – at best – locked in a long fight for compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.

But aside from the financial impact, this crime has a human cost. 23,000 people each year are injured or killed by uninsured drivers, according to the Co-op. And these drivers are supposedly at a greater risk (up to ten times more) to have, or cause, collisions.

Are we tough enough?

So what’s the penalty for driving uninsured? A huge fine? A prison sentence? If an uninsured driver’s car is seized by the police, they’ll face a £200 fixed penalty and have a minimum of six points added to their driving licence.

A fine of up to £5,000 could be imposed – but this is up to the courts. To get a confiscated car back, drivers have to pay £150 plus car-pound fees, and show a valid insurance certificate.

With insurance premiums – particularly those for young drivers – so high, perhaps it’s little wonder some people choose to ignore the law. Basic maths shows there’s a chance that, even if you’re caught driving uninsured, you may end up only a little worse off than if you’d stumped up for cover in the first place.

But there’s another way of looking at this – having a car isn’t a basic human right, and those who don’t comply with rules of the road should be prevented from driving on it. Penalties for driving with no insurance could be harsher – at least to deter those who think going without is a more cost-effective option. I can see both sides of the argument. But what do you think?

How should we punish uninsured drivers?

Sell their vehicles and use the cash to compensate crash victims (51%, 188 Votes)

Confiscate and crush their vehicles (20%, 73 Votes)

Ban them from driving (18%, 66 Votes)

Fine them £1000 (10%, 36 Votes)

The same way we already punish them (2%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 372

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SuperTrouper says:
3 September 2010

I was hit by an uninsured driver a few years ago. He actually tried to get me to lie about the time of the accident so he could have enough time to renew his insurance…..
I didn’t get a penny off him in the end – even lost out on the excess which was 100 quid – my insurance company did meet the cost of repairs though.

Sue Shaw says:
4 September 2010

I know it may sound ludicrous but how difficult would it be to scrap vehicle tax and insurance and increase the price of petrol. A share of that extra cost could then be allocated to cover tax and insurance that we pay now. Everyone would then have to pay up as you can’t go anywhere without petrol.


This is similar to what George in the Which? Car team argues in this Conversation https://conversation.which.co.uk/transport-travel/fuel-duty-a-tax-we-should-all-welcome/


Sadly what would happen is there will be vast amounts of smuggled fuel – just as there is for cigarettes and alcohol,- because the rest of Europe won’t have the same system

Nor does it address the problem of unsafe cars that have no MOT or Tax or Insurance. So vast numbers driving around with no brakes.

Surely there should be far more emphasis on the detection – capture – and destruction of ALL illegal cars. These criminals must be made responsible..

The destruction of the car should only be the start – How about total loss of driving license – £4000 fine and costs – On second offence banned from car driving for life.

I know when a youth I never paid my road tax (£10? before MOT) – because it wasn’t spent on roads – the fines were derisory (I always made a “profit” when caught) Then they raised the fine to £400 – I soon paid it regularly.

pickle says:
4 September 2010

It might help if an insurance disc were to be issued to bona-fide driver covered by that insurance – and that disc to be fixed to the windscreen. Anyone not exihibiting such a disc would be called-in for investigation.


Naively I had supposed that some comparison was being made between the DVLA database and the MIB database to check for and enforce against the uninsured vehicles that are at least registered. Obviously not. Of course, many vehicles are not registered, are therefore unlikely to be insured, and almost certainly do not have a current MOT. To me this is extremely worrying – that cars are hurtling around the roads with defective brakes, steering, lights, etc. Insurance, undertaken by a hugely-resourced private industry, is the key to both registration [VED compliance] and vehicle safety, so if the industry could stamp out insurance evasion it would pay for itself many times over and be a major public benefit. I am also curious as to how so many new drivers, often still in education or low-paid work, seem to be able to register and insure quite racy cars and drive them like maniacs without any questions being asked – is this more evidence of the insurance industry failing to protect its honest customers from the abuses of the deceitful? I have always liked the idea of incorporating car taxes in petrol prices but I am not so sure about putting the insurance element there as well – I fear it might lead to even more fraudulent claims [since there would be no NCB to forfeit or any advantage for careful and experienced drivers]. There is also the risk that if the price of petrol increases significantly it will attract criminal activity. Since so many cars now run on diesel there would also have to be complex trade-offs between private car drivers and commercial vehicles which have a completely different risk profile for insurance purposes. And how many of them are also uninsured and potentially unsafe?


Apologies. In my previous post I used a word beginning with ‘m’ and ending with ‘ively-resourced’ that contained three letters [think ‘donkey’] that trigger this system’s abuse controls. I should have said “a hugely-resourced private industry” and I hope it now makes sense.


Thanks for pointing that out John – I have edited your comment. We’re currently tweaking our profanity filter, so you shouldn’t have these problems in the future.


I had a experience of uninsured driver and happened at night. A car hit on back of my car and sandwich between lamp post and hit car. I found trace of number plate and handed over to police. Police was not interested at any point. After that I found otu that it was a stolen car with no insurace. My insurace company was complete useless, and it took me long time to settle. Their attitude w