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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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Comments
Guest
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.

Guest
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.

Guest

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/

Guest

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.

Guest
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.

Guest

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?

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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 was that they are incharge. I lost so much money and it took good 2 years to get overs. I am strictly in favour of get very tough with uninsured drivers. I would also suggest that life ban and up to £50,000.00 fine if no casulaity. If there is casulaity than tit for tat with heavy fine up to £75,000.00 even if they have to sell there house.

I would also suggest that DVLA should create a website with photos, their address with alias name which should be available to public. All insurance company should call for heavy fine to be paid one place and compansate to losing driver and rest of the money to reduce premium. I also believe in the name claim insurance company makes money because all strings in their hands. Government should take some interest and have to sort out.

Any body thought of foreign registered cars driving in UK? What happened if there is accident? how do we know if car is insured or taxed or is a car owner. Foreign car get away with everything. It is extremely necessary to take some kind of action on foreign registred cars.

Guest
Richard Emery says:
10 September 2010

Banning uninsured drivers may have limited effect because anyone who drives without insurance is quite likely to drive when banned. If they own the car that they are driving then it should be confiscated and sold, with the money going to the MIB. They should also be fined with the fine assessed at 3 times the amount that they would have needed to pay to get insurance and this money should be shared equally between the MIB (to compensate other drivers) and the government (to pay for the police and courts).

Guest
Jeremy Bow says:
10 September 2010

I think it inequitable that one section of the population (and a law-abiding one in that respect) i.e insured drivers should exclusively foot the bill for others’ illegal activity of driving without insurance. The burden should fall on the taxpayer as a whole.

Guest

Whats the point in just confiscating their vhicles, selling them and sending the proceeds to crash victims most of these drivers have cars worse a couple of hundred pounds.
Its a shame we couldnt vote for more than one suggestion because a ban alone is not enough. They should pay the full years insurance due, loose that car and receive a fine plus court costs!

Guest

The courts are far too lenient on these people. You only have to watch these “road wars” type programmes, at the end they summarise the punishment that was handed out to the offenders. Invariably they get a £100 fine, 50 hours community service and banned from driving for 6 months – wow, big deal, that’ll surely stop them re-offending – NOT !!

Guest

As usual the british system of being able to get away with not insuring a car and yet drive on public roads and even when caught these people get away with it.

How is this possible??

Surely a system can be put in place to avoid this.

We now read about people driving with too many points on their licence and still driving, there goes the system again.

And so the list of problems goes on…………….

Guest

The problem here is that the uninsured driver is never charged for the accident costs bacause the insured driver’s insurance company will just pay out (assuming comprehensive insurance). This is compounded by the fact that even when both drivers are insured the insurance companies frequently deal direct with each other. If driver B causes an accident in which driver A’s car is damaged then driver B is liable to pay driver A’s costs. If driver B has a valid insurance policy then he/she can reclaim those costs from insurance company X, but this is actually *immaterial* to driver A. If somebody is uninusred then they should be made to pay full costs from their own pocket – if that means taking and selling not only their car, but also their computer, television, Xbox, mobile ‘phone etc.etc. (and even their house if necessary) so be it.

I don’t supose anybody has the statistics of the number of uninsured drivers who are actually proceeded against in *civil* court for the costs of accidents they caused?

Guest
Kiersten says:
21 September 2010

My car was driven into by uninsured drunk joyriders a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, they shunted my car into the back of my husband’s van and both vehicles were written off. My husband gave chase as soon as he’d got himself out of bed, and three of the four car occupants were caught as a result. South Wales Police, however, informed us that they could not press charges as they hadn’t caught the fourth joyrider who was allegedly the driver. Quite apart from the fact that we had a six week old baby, and no transport for several weeks living in a rural village, our insurance premiums have been extortionate ever since. I am disgusted with the police for not pressing charges against the three “passengers” who were obstructing justice, in my opinion. I am disgusted with my insurers for not insisting that the police press charges. Everyone seems very happy to let the victim of the crime pay!

Guest

Insurance companies operate a CRIMINAL MONOLOPLY by forcring everyone to be insured (this law was brought in by the ‘silly ******* united’ (all one and the same group of people related by blood – lab/cons/libdems muppets in the house of dogs). Insurance companies need to be abolished.

New rules:
– Every driver should pay min £100 (and max up to £5000 depending on the luxury of the car and other factors such as engine size etc) into an INSURANCE ACCOUNT – the money should then be totalled and used to pay for accidents (accidents are less than 10% of drivers per year – so will be easily covered) and MOT. This will help the poor and penalise the rich, the way it should be.
– MOT’s should be paid out of the INSURANCE ACCOUNT – will stop women getting conned and force out cowboys as the government will have to open their own MOT centres to keep costs down and honest work will prevail.
– Road Tax – should come out of petrol – owner A with Range Rover does 5K miles and pays £200, ower B does 500K miles and pays £200 – the poor man is being penalised. If transfered to petrol then the rich man (owner B) will be penalised – the way it should be.

Complaining is IMPORTANT (don’t let evil newpaper/media owners shame you by labeling you a moaner! so they carry on their abuse) – in the past GREAT things have been acheived and changes made by COMPLAINERS/QUESTIONERS who have forced rich evil dogs to install more safety into everyday living.

Asking QUESTIONS is IMPORTANT – it forces evil puppet politicans and corrupt corporations to ANSWER for their actions and rules (all corporations are political and religous – their poltics and religion is ‘money at any cost’) – they hate this because in answering your questions they are FORCED to ADMIT THEIR LIES AND ARE EXPOSED – this is the very reason they are trying to restrict FREE SPEECH through these brought and sold ‘silly ******* united’ prostitues called politicans.

So please COMPLAIN and QUESTION and you will force the great whale (the civil servant government) to act and believe me the evil people who have taken over the governent will be exposed and forced out and imprisoned. The greatest danger is NOT TO QUESTION OR COMPLAIN – failure to do this is to – ACCEPT WITHOUT TESTING – this foolishness is a crime unto yourself, your children, your nation and you end up a coward before the world and God.

Think about it – one can and has changed the world and you might be one man – if the whole world was created from one man – how great is the man, even one. Stand and fight for what is right.

Blessings in Jesus Christ – the man who changed the world forever.

Guest
dave h says:
10 February 2011

the fine should be 2k with their car taken and never given back and sold or crushed.
a basic 10 points given as well.
cereal offenders should be jailed and a insurance disc should be displayed.
road tax should be scrapped and the price put on fuel.

Guest

I realise I’m late to the party here, but perhaps my comments will revive this important thread?

Seeing through the rather brash style of his post, Jon actually has the basis of a potential model to overcome a lot of the problems I see in the insurance world. I believe there is a business model where *third party* insurance is run on a national basis, and whose premia are collected at the pumps. This would have several beneficial effects, eg:
* Nobody is “uninsured” per se.
* Decouple the dramatic – and skewed – premia between the young and old. “Not fair – youngsters are more accident prone” did I hear? Ah – but, whilst there is potentially a bit of unfairness at the transition, once in place it is perfectly fair as the insured party pays equally over his/her driving lifespan. Whilst this might conceivably mean the very high mileage accident-free-for-ages driver coughing up a tad more than is “fair”, this I would suggest would be more than offset by the general reduction in the lining of insurance brokers’ and underwriters’ pockets. Also there would be the option – and possibly a very sensible one – of ensuring any driver on whom a claim is lodged would have to take some course or other – or even resit the test – at their own expense. A marvelous re-education opportunity.

I’ve obviously not thought this through fully, but I think it could be made to work to the benefit of motorists and the country alike. The only losers would be insurers. Is this a win/win/win? .

Guest
Sludgeguts says:
7 January 2013

Almost every forecourt says they take a pic of your plates – why not simply allow their cameras to link with the police national computer?
As soon as you drive onto the forecourt your plate is scanned & if your car is not taxed, insured or tested, the police are immediately notified.
In addition, every car has a unique key, most modern cars will not start without the correct key being inserted.
So why not issue each car with a unique key fob/transponder? Tax,MOT and insurance are all on computer these days so a reader in the fuel pump could read your transponder & shut down if the car isn’t legal. Car parks could also be fitted with readers to notify police if an illegal enters. In fact, the range on these things is quite good (I drive a bus with one fitted & bollards can start retracting when I’m about 15ft away) so sensors could be installed in some street furniture (lampposts, signs etc), so it would be difficult for a car to move without it being registered.
Who pays for all this tech? Well, seeing as the legal motorist is already paying millions more than we have to… How about they start by increasing the fines to cover costs?
The harder they make it for these people, the happier I would be. I am fed up with my premiums going up year on year – despite having 70% no claims discount.
An added bonus would be, if street furniture can monitor cars, more idiots would be caught speeding, less muppets on the road, safer roads for all.