For millions of motorists, insuring a car is just one of those tiresome – and often expensive – chores you have to do every year.
But if you forget or don’t take out insurance, you could get into trouble.
Long gone are the days when proof of insurance depended on producing a tatty piece of paper. Nowadays everything is controlled online.
No hiding place: All your vehicle and insurance details are now stored digitally – so stay compliant!
As a result, police cars and roadside cameras are equipped with license plate recognition technology that can instantly tell if a vehicle is insured, taxed and MOT-approved, or flagged as ‘of interest’ in connection with another crime.
So far this year, more than 100,000 uninsured drivers have had their vehicles seized, with a third of them crushed.
Last month, in a national police crackdown – Operation Drive Insured – more than 3,500 uninsured vehicles were seized across the UK.
Drivers detained, initially for not having insurance, included those arrested for attempted murder, aggravated assault, being wanted by Interpol and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Nationally, Birmingham is the hot spot for uninsured driving, and a fifth of all vehicles stopped by a police operation without insurance were so badly damaged they were not legal.
Nor is it a victimless crime.
- Fall-out from uninsured drivers adds about £500 million a year to honest motorists’ premiums.
- Injuries caused by uninsured and volatile drivers cost the economy nearly £2.2bn a year in emergency services, medical care, lost productivity and human costs, insurers say.
Typically, uninsured drivers are given a flat fine of £300 and six license points, with their vehicle impounded and possibly crushed. They could face court and receive an unlimited fine and/or a driving ban, with a conviction affecting job prospects.
Seven top tips for staying covered
- Check if you really have insurance by going to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau website: askmid.com
- Protect your no claims discounts.
- Young Drivers: Consider a specialist policy that may include driving restrictions, such as a curfew, or a supervisory ‘black box’ to keep premiums down.
- Shop. Make sure your insurer doesn’t take you for granted and charge you more than competing firms or new customers.
- Be honest and review your policy. Providing false or outdated information may invalidate your insurance.
- Beware of tempting, yet fraudulent, online policies. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Always check and update your details when you renew your policy. You can invalidate your insurance if you do not report changed circumstances
Details of all insured cars are now held in the Motor Insurance Database (MID), a live overview of all UK motor insurance.
This is administered by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (mib.org.uk), a not-for-profit organization that compensates people hit by uninsured and hit-and-run drivers. MIB also oversees official injury claims for insurance fraud.
To identify uninsured cars and vans, police and other authorities continually compare MID insurance data with DVLA registered vehicle data.
Police also use MID data with their Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, backed up with real-time links to insurance officials.
Insurers are responsible for updating their own customer data in the database. You can also check if your own vehicle is registered on askmid.com.
Cover can range from a few hundred pounds for a low-risk driver with a claim-free history in a crime-free area, to thousands of euros for newly qualified drivers in high-risk postcode areas.
Young drivers facing high premiums — often more expensive than their cars — may be more tempted to go without insurance.
So are higher risk drivers – those who are involved in accidents or have points on their license for traffic violations. But it is false economy as well as illegal.
Regardless of your status, you should shop around for the best deal available, including those that may limit your car.
And don’t allow your current insurer to hold you at a higher premium while newer customers get much better and cheaper deals. Shop.
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau says there are common pitfalls that can lead to uninsured driving.
- Most motorists receive a reminder from their existing insurer and many motorists have a roll-over policy on a regular direct debit. This will keep the cover in place. But not all policies are automatically renewed.
- Make sure your current payment method has not expired.
- Be careful to keep a vehicle off the road, but do not report SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) to the DVLA.
- The days when you were allowed to drive someone else’s car as a third party with an all-risk car insurance policy are long gone. Now you need a specific ‘driving differently’ insurance on your policy. So check first.
- Beware of buying fake car insurance on social media in a scam commonly known as “ghost brokering.”
- Steer clear of “fronting” – a form of auto insurance fraud where a motorist, often a more experienced driver, claims to be the lead driver of a car when they are not.
It will void coverage and could lead to prosecution for auto insurance fraud, six points on your driver’s license and an unlimited fine, plus a possible driving ban.
Check the fine print too, especially at this time of year when many load their cars with valuable Christmas gifts.
Only about one in seven (14 per cent) of car insurance products cover personal belongings over £400, with 18 per cent (slightly less than one in five) covering under £150, according to insurance comparison website Go.Compare ( gocompare.com).
School trips are back on the calendar
Hyundai is investing £1million in a program of school trips after research shows children are missing out on essential and accessible visits due to the cost of living crisis, tight funds and staffing issues.
Launched this week, the ambitious new initiative aims to send 25,000 pupils on school trips across the UK over the coming academic year, with entrepreneur and former TV Apprentice winner Tim Campbell MBE as Hyundai’s Educator in Residence.
Courtesy of Hyundai: The Korean carmaker is investing £1 million in a program to fund school trips
Hyundai said its Great British School Trip program aims to inspire children aged seven to 14 and help them shape their future goals. It offers scholarships to help the schools most in need fund their trips, including reservation fees and travel expenses.
Hyundai’s survey of 2,000 teachers and parents in the UK found that 61 per cent of teachers admit they are less likely to plan a school trip now compared to five years ago, while 52 per cent of children have deliberately not told a parent about an upcoming trip because of money worries.
Three in 10 parents said finances are the main barrier to sending their children on school trips.
Seven out of 10 parents surveyed said their children enjoy school visits, with science museums, the zoo and adventure activities, such as kayaking or climbing, among the favourites.
Nearly one in four parents said their children may not be offered field trips this school year due to a lack of school funding and volunteer opportunities.
Plug-in fury: Charger rage is on the rise
Incidents of ‘charger rage’ are on the rise as more electric car owners complain about public charging points not keeping up, experts warn.
Drivers venting their anger and frustration on social media have reported multiple incidents of irate motorists arguing over who’s turn to use a charging station and even unplugging other vehicles.
Asked: Motorists have reported multiple incidents of irate motorists arguing over whose turn it is to use a charging point
Experts at LeaseElectricCar.co.uk say more charge points and code of conduct guidelines are needed.
The growing anger from chargers also highlights the huge challenge facing the government in meeting its own ambitious electrification deadline to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
New electric car driver Jessica Fletcher complained on Facebook about the way she was treated at the charging point of a supermarket parking lot.
She said: “A dude in a huge Audi jumped out of his car jabbing his finger and yelling at me that I had jumped in line – he had been waiting and I had just pulled over.
“I wish I’d stuck with gas now.”
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