Hazard alert for motorists with no cover
A crackdown is coming but insured drivers can also take their own measures to bring down premiums, writes Melanie Bien
Sunday 15 August 2004
Although the cost of motor insurance can be high, the penalties for breaking the law and not taking out cover are about to become much stiffer.
Although the cost of motor insurance can be high, the penalties for breaking the law and not taking out cover are about to become much stiffer.
Last week Professor David Greenaway of the University of Nottingham presented his report to the Transport Secretary on how to crack down on un-insured motoring. Among his proposals is a recommendation that police are given the power to seize and, where appropriate, destroy vehicles driven without cover. There are also plans to link the DVLA's Vehicle Register and motor insurance databases, so police know which vehicles are uninsured.
Under Professor Greenaway's proposals, the minimum fine for uninsured driving will also be increased - although the exact amount has yet to be specified - to deter would-be evaders. Fixed penalties will be introduced for people who ignore reminders from insurers that their cover has expired.
Such changes are overdue, given that when a case comes to court, the fines usually amount to far less than the premiums would have been. What's more, an uninsured driver's chance of being caught and convicted is just 16 per cent annually, says the RAC Foundation.
"A £200 fine is no deterrent to someone who can save £300 to £500 a year and who will get away with that for up to six years," says John Lewis, director general of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association. "A swingeing fine, community service or, in more extreme cases, a custodial sentence are the only options that will be effective."
All motorists are legally obliged to have third-party insurance but one in 20 - about one million people - drive without cover in the UK. A crackdown can't come soon enough: research from the Association of British Insurers reveals that motorists without cover are three times more likely to have been convicted of driving without due care and attention. They are also 10 times more likely to have been convicted of drink-driving.
These people are a scourge for law-abiding motorists who fork out hundreds of pounds each year for cover. Being hit by an uninsured driver is extremely inconvenient and expensive. If you have fully comprehensive cover, you will have to claim on your own policy to repair the damage, even though it's not your fault. You'll also have to pay an excess of a couple of hundred pounds when you make a claim.
And if you have a no-claims bonus, you will lose it. Typically, an NCB starts at around 15 per cent after a year, climbing to 60 per cent after six or more claim-free years. If you lose your NCB, it could result in a big hike in your insurance premiums the following year.
Even if you aren't hit by an uninsured driver, you still lose out as these people add an average of £30 to the annual premium of an insured motorist.
If you have only third-party cover, you can't claim on your policy; the only option is to apply to the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB), which compensates drivers involved in collisions with uninsured motorists. But Emma Holyer at insurer Direct Line points out that you will have to pay an excess of £300. And she adds: "Most people end up paying for the damage to be fixed themselves, make a claim and then wait up to two years to get their money."
Direct Line has just changed its rules so that customers with fully comprehensive cover will no longer lose out if they have to claim after being hit by an uninsured driver. They will keep their NCB and not be liable for any excess, either. Direct Line estimates that this will save motorists £400 per incident.
Direct Line policyholders who have only third-party cover won't be affected by this change, though, as they will be covered by the MIB.
If your motor policy is with Sainsbury's Bank, your NCB won't be affected by non-fault claims where the other driver is identified but not covered.
With claims from uninsured driving costing the industry £400m, and law-abiding motorists facing higher premiums, it's vital to scour the market when your policy is up for renewal. The difference between the cheapest and most expensive insurance providers is 52 per cent or £209 a year, reports the financial services research firm Consumer Intelligence.
It's also vital that you don't wait for the Government to take action on uninsured drivers, which should hopefully result in lower premiums. "These initiatives can often take time to implement; we'd urge drivers to act now to protect themselves," says Richard Mason, director of the price-comparison website insuresupermarket.com. "You can't do much about being hit by an uninsured driver but you can take measures to ensure you don't end up bearing the brunt."
The easiest way of doing this is to protect your no-claims bonus, advises Mr Mason. For an added premium, your NCB won't be affected even if you make two claims in a three-year period. Most insurers insist you have at least four years in NCBs to qualify for this, and that you haven't made a "fault" claim, for example for theft, in the previous 12 months.
Mr Mason estimates that protecting your NCB will increase your premiums by 6 per cent. In comparison, the cost of making a claim on your policy can add as much as 23 per cent to your premiums.
Young drivers often find it particularly hard to get affordable insurance. Professor Greenaway recommends that insurers work to make third-party cover more accessible for them, as well as increasing awareness that they are legally obliged to have insurance.
It's all too tempting for young drivers to be added to their parents' policy, as this is usually cheaper than buying standalone cover. But if they delay buying their own policy, they will be missing out in the long term.
Mr Mason adds: "By taking advantage of bonus accelerator offers - or perhaps adding a parent to their policy and downgrading to third-party insurance where possible - younger drivers will find it easier and more affordable to establish a good driving record, which they can then protect."
Interest-only mortgages return to give more flexibility to borrowers
Bargain Hunter: Exclusive discount on a SmartGlider - a self-balancing electric scooter
My Tinder date asked for a refund when I declined a second meet up
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
Be warned of the dirty tricks the bailiffs pull
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...
£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
Day In a Page
This five-bedroom home in Sutton Coldfield is arranged over three floors, with a detached garage to the rear and a driveway at the front of the property.
In an elevated position above the bay, this four-bedroom home offers sea and headland views. There is a decked balcony and sun terrace - plus coastal walks on the doorstep.
With four bedrooms, this spacious maisonette in a mid-terrace period-style house in Holland Road is well-maintained and offers high ceilings and period features.
The terraces of this two-bedroom penthouse apartment offer panoramic views that stretch over fifty miles from the cliffs of Beachy Head.
In the heart of the coastal village of Mumbles and moments from the pier, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is set over three floors and retains many original features.
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.