This October police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to carry out a month-long crack down on uninsured driving.
‘Operation Drive Insured’, developed between the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and the NPCC’s National Roads Policing Intelligence forum (NRPIF), will see increased enforcement activity to seize uninsured drivers’ vehicles to help improve road safety and raise public awareness of the issue.
The campaign follows staggering year-on-year collision rates caused by drivers without valid insurance. MIB, a not-for-profit organisation that compensates victims of uninsured and untraced ‘hit and run’ drivers, recorded over 26,000 personal injuries in 2018 – equivalent to one person in the UK being injured every 20 minutes.
Uninsured drivers also cause a disproportionately high level of fatalities with over 130 people killed by an uninsured or untraced ‘hit and run’ driver each year.
“Police forces take action every day against those who choose not to insure their vehicles. This coordinated NPCC campaign highlights the issue of uninsured driving and anyone stopped by the police who is not insured can expect to have their vehicle seized and face a substantial fine as a consequence.” Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, NPCC Lead, Roads Policing.
The economic impact of collisions caused by uninsured and untraced ‘hit and run’ drivers is considerable. Government figures for the average value of prevention of road traffic injuries compared against MIB’s recorded rates indicate an annual economic cost over £1.8 billion. This includes costs for emergency services, medical care, loss of productivity and property damage.
Whereas the economic impact of uninsured driving to the insurance industry comes to around £400 million each year which is ultimately funded by honest motorists’ insurance premiums.
One contributing factor behind the concerning rate of collisions caused by uninsured drivers is that they aren’t motivated to drive more safely and legally to help keep policy costs down.
Evidence also shows drivers without insurance are more likely to commit a ‘hit and run’ and be involved in other crimes. MIB records frequent examples where uninsured drivers are committing a further offence, be it using a stolen vehicle, driving while disqualified or substance abuse.
“Having valid Motor insurance is more than a legal requirement: it is designed to protect victims of road traffic collisions by providing them with financial compensation. We will continue our long-standing partnership with UK Police to ensure that everyone on the roads has insurance and to make uninsured driving socially unacceptable.” Anna Fleming, Chief Operating Officer at MIB.
During the month-long campaign Police will access MIB’s Motor Insurance Database (MID), a central record of all active UK motor insurance policies which enables Officers to easily check passing vehicles’ registration plates to see if they appear to be insured. If a driver denies being uninsured MIB can quickly liaise with insurers to confirm if valid insurance exists or not.
The minimum legal consequence for uninsured motorists means that their vehicle can be seized and potentially crushed, along with a £300 fixed penalty notice and six licence points.
However, uninsured drivers are frequently referred to court where they then face an unlimited fine and a driving ban. Uninsured driving convictions also show on basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks which can have a serious impact on employment prospects.
Uninsured driving is an issue that can be found across the UK with the worst affected areas including London, Birmingham, Manchester and West Yorkshire.
Uninsured driving levels have not been helped by growing concerns surrounding ‘Ghost Broking’, which is where fraudsters posing as Brokers offer illegal and invalid insurance policies at an unrealistically low cost to those who need car insurance.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), a sub-company of MIB that investigates organised insurance fraud, has seen its percentage of live investigations into Ghost Broking double since 2015.
132,804 uninsured vehicles were seized across the UK in 2018. If a member of the public would like to check that their vehicle is showing as insured on the MID, they can visit http://www.askMID.com.