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