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Uninsured drivers – the cost to you as an insured motorist

Next time you’re stuck in traffic, take a look at the cars around you. At least one in every twenty five vehicles will be uninsured, and in some areas, like London and Liverpool, it could be as many as one in ten. Yet you can’t tell which cars have insurance and which don’t.

The cost of uninsured drivers

The problem of uninsured drivers costs each and every one of us around £33 extra on our car insurance every year. However, it’s more than just the financial cost that counts. As James Dalton from the Association of British Insurers says, “the cost of crashes caused by uninsured drivers pushes up the insurance premiums of honest motorists, as well as being a danger on the roads.”

Uninsured drivers have been shown to be more likely to have an accident and are more likely to be driving an unroadworthy car. These drivers kill 160 people every year and cause 23,000 injuries, all without any means of compensating their victims or paying for the cost of living with their injuries.

Why aren’t there stricter penalties?

The Government recently increased the fixed penalty for driving without insurance from £200 to £300, with a maximum fine of £5,000 for persistent offenders, but clearly this is not enough of a deterrent. The authorities can also confiscate the vehicle of uninsured drivers, but although over a million cars have been seized in this way since the law was introduced in 2005, and 30% of these vehicles have been crushed, there are still well over a million uninsured cars on our roads.

What if I am in an accident with an uninsured driver?

With a basic car insurance policy, you could find yourself seriously out of pocket if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver. Even if your policy is fully comprehensive, you may still lose your no claims discount and have to pay an excess. What’s more, your premium is likely to increase as a result of the accident, even if it was clearly not your fault. Some policies have added extras to protect you against uninsured drivers and help you pursue your claim in the courts, but you need to check the wording carefully to see how you are covered. Inevitably, these extras mean uninsured drivers effectively push up the cost of insurance even more.

Is there anything I can do?

All UK insurers have to belong to, and contribute to, the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) which provides protection for motorists against uninsured drivers. You can make a claim for physical damage as well as any costs that arise out of injuries, as well as any excess you have to pay or no claims discount you lose, but you cannot claim for any rise in your overall policy cost following an accident.

You can check for free if any vehicle does have valid insurance by typing the vehicle registration onto the MIB website here.

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