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Driving without insurance: what are the penalties?

Driving without insurance: what are the penalties?

Some risks just aren’t worth taking, and one of them is driving without insurance. Car insurance is a legal requirement and the penalties for driving without it can be severe. 

Here’s a look at what could happen if you get behind the wheel without insurance. 

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 6 NOVEMBER 2019

Who needs car insurance?

Anybody who drives or keeps a car must have car insurance. The bare minimum to be legal is third party car insurance. If you’re involved in an accident, it could cover the other party’s damage and injuries.

If you don’t use your car and you want to avoid having to insure and tax it, you must declare it off road and apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). 

Once you’ve declared a SORN you must not drive, or even park the car on a public road. It must be kept on a private driveway, in a garage or on private land.

What’s the point of car insurance?

Car insurance is there to protect you, your car and other people from medical and financial costs in the event of an accident.  

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) found that during 2015, 99% of all car insurance claims were successful, while new data reveals that in 2017 a total amount of £8.1 billion was paid out on motor claims. 

So while you might grudgingly fork out for insurance every year, it’s clear to see that it’s a worthy safety net if something does go wrong. 

What are the penalties for driving without insurance?

Driving without car insurance is a risk you just can’t afford to take. The consequences are serious and could lead to a criminal conviction. 

At the very least you could get a fixed penalty fine of £300 and six penalty points on your licence.  

If you’re taken to court you could face an unlimited fine and be disqualified from driving.

If you’re disqualified for anything longer than 56 days, you’ll need to apply for a new licence and may need to retake your test.

The police also have the authority to seize your vehicle, and even have it destroyed. In 2016, 145,000 uninsured cars were seized by the police, and 58,000 of these were crushed. That’s a rate of over 1,000 cars destroyed per week. 

How much do uninsured drivers cost us?

In 2017, the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB), the body that compensates victims of uninsured drivers, estimated that it would be paying out £256 million in claims. That has added an average of £15 to each car insurance premium. Claims in the first half of 2017 rose by almost 10% to around 12,000. 

The MIB reports that there are around 1 million uninsured drivers on Britain’s roads. That equates to one in 38 cars that are uninsured. And uninsured drivers don’t just cost us in terms of premiums. 

According to the MIB, “every three days someone is involved in an accident with an uninsured or ‘hit and run’ driver which will ultimately lead to a fatality”.

How can police tell if a vehicle is uninsured?

The MIB records the details of all insured cars in the UK and shares the information with all UK police forces. Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras can tell if a vehicle is insured in a matter of seconds, so it’s becoming harder to get away with driving without insurance.

But insurance is expensive isn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be. Although there are some elements affecting insurance that you can’t change, such as your age, address and claims history, there are ways to reduce the cost of your car insurance. 

Your choice of car – as a general rule, the more powerful, modified and desirable your car is, the higher your insurance will be.

Paying premiums up-front could save you additional interest charges on monthly instalments.

Increasing your voluntary excess can lower the cost of your premium. Just make sure you can afford to pay both the voluntary excess and compulsory excess.  

For more ways to reduce costs, check out our top tips for cheap car insurance. 

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The consequences of driving without insurance simply aren’t worth the risk. And choosing a car insurance policy has never been easier.  

If you search with us, we’ll give you a choice of trusted insurance providers based on your needs. Compare quotes with us today and see if you can start saving.

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