Smash with unin­sured driver calls for dam­age lim­i­ta­tion

The Scotsman - - Farming - jeff Salway

DRIV­ERS are at in­creased risk of costly ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing unin­sured driv­ers as car in­surance premi­ums con­tinue to soar. And while the right in­surance goes a long way, many driv­ers have dis­cov­ered that when the other party isn’t in­sured the costs can still pile up.

An es­ti­mated 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple drive with­out in­surance in the UK, even though it’s il­le­gal to do so, with the num­ber of unin­sured driv­ers as high as one in four in some in­ner-city ar­eas. And it is feared even more driv­ers could risk tak­ing to the road with­out cover if car in­surance premi­ums con­tinue their re­cent rise.

Premi­ums are up 30 per cent since Jan­uary 2009 and AA In­surance has pre­dicted a fur­ther 20 per cent rise by the end of 2010, amount­ing to a huge rise over the past two years as in­sur­ers pass on the cost of a bur­geon­ing com­pen­sa­tion cul­ture and an in­crease in fraud­u­lent claims.

Young driv­ers are typ­i­cally the hard­est hit by higher premi­ums, with the biggest in­creases af­fect­ing the “third party fire and theft” poli­cies typ­i­cally bought by younger driv­ers with cheaper, older cars. The in­creases have sparked new fears that higher costs will mean many younger driv­ers may be tempted, il­le­gally, not to in­sure their cars at all. And a rise in unin­sured driv­ers in­evitably in­creases your chances of a costly col­li­sion with one.

Cur­rently, driv­ers with­out in­surance can leave their ve­hi­cle off-road un­til they ar­range the ap­pro­pri­ate cover. But un­der the Con­tin­u­ous In­surance En­force­ment Rules com­ing into force next year, driv­ers with­out in­surance must ei­ther in­sure their car or of­fi­cially declare it off-road.

Those who do nei­ther face a fine of up to £1,000 and even­tu­ally con­fis­ca­tion of their car. Mo­torists who don’t use their cars and leave them unin­sured for a year or more will be able to ap­ply for an ex­emp­tion by ar­rang­ing off-road stor­age and declar­ing it through the Statu­tory Off Road No­ti­fi­ca­tion (Sorn). The new rules will also see the DVLA data­base be­ing com­bined with the Mo­tor In­surance Data­base to iden­tify driv­ers who do not have in­surance.

To en­sure you are not in dan­ger of un­wit­tingly driv­ing with­out in­surance you can use the Mo­tor In­surance Data­base, at www.askmid.com, to check, free of charge, that you car is on it. The data­base can also be used to find out if a ve­hi­cle with which you’ve been in an ac­ci­dent is in­sured.

The new mea­sures should in the long term see the lev­els of unin­sured driv­ers come down again. But in the mean­time high in­surance costs mean the risk of ac­ci­dents where at least one party is not in­sured con­tin­ues to grow.

In in­surance

terms,

even

if you have a com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy that cov­ers you in these in­stances, only a small mi­nor­ity of poli­cies will pro­tect your no­claims bonus (NCB), with the ex­cess usu­ally still payable. Even the tiny band of in­sur­ers that will pro­tect your NCB – in­clud­ing His­cox and Char­tis – typ­i­cally re­quire the de­tails of the unin­sured party, ex­clud­ing vic­tims of un­trace­able hit-and-run ac­ci­dents from NCB pro­tec­tion.

Ian Crow­der of the AA ex­plained: “With most in­sur­ers

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