Threat of car seizures for insurance dodgers

UP TO a million motorists who use their cars without insurance could have them impounded and sold off if they are caught, according to radical proposals now being considered by the Department of Transport.

The proposals under study by the DoT include the privatisation of the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency so that insurance records can be kept against its vehicle registration database.

Heavier fines and stiff compensation orders for uninsured drivers who have caused damage or injury to other people are also being called for in the plans being put forward by the Motor Insurers' Bureau.

The MIB is the body set up by the insurance industry to pay claims made by victims of uninsured drivers. Last year, the total number of claims stood at around 40,000 - almost 400 per cent up on 1988.

The MIB estimates that about one million motorists are uninsured in any one year. Compensating the victims of untraced or uninsured drivers costs insurers about pounds 250m per annum.

While policyholders pay the cost in terms of higher premiums, victims pay the price in other ways. Last year, more than 5,000 people received compensation from the MIB for personal injuries.

Roger Snook, claims manager at MIB, said: 'The evidence is that this is a growing phenomenon, which society as a whole has to pay for at the moment.

'What we are suggesting is that the matter could be addressed by vigorously enforcing the rules. This would include checking that people have paid car tax, which is linked to paying insurance.

'Motorists should also be required to carry their driving licence and insurance documents with them all the time. Insurance certificates should be standardised, and the information collected by police when they attend an accident should be, too.'

Mr Snooks said that magistrates should be given the power to make compensation orders to the MIB: 'At the moment, they are empowered to direct money to the BBC in the event of people not paying their television licence fees.

'I would argue that compensating people who have been injured is probably higher up the list of priorities than that.'

He accepted that the cost of recording insurance details on the DVLA's database could prove expensive: 'That is why the industry would be prepared to consider running DVLA as a privatised entity if necessary,' he said.

'Some people would argue that it is the recession that has caused a minority not to take out insurance. But they are still well-off enough to run cars. They should be told that their cars will be impounded unless they pay the insurance or a fine. If they don't do that within a given period, the car could be sold off to cover the cost.'

Mr Snooks said it was too early to say whether the proposals would receive the DoT's support. However, he and others in the insurance industry who had drawn them up were hopeful that at least some of them could be implemented quite rapidly.

A DoT spokesman said: 'Our primary concerns are twofold. Firstly, we are concerned at the possibility of potential or real injuries to innocent people.

'Secondly, there is the concern that if people are not paying insurance, they are also not paying their car tax and therefore forcing other people to bear extra costs.

'There is no doubt that we are looking very seriously at these proposals. If any do appear to us to be sensible then we would want to see whether they are practicable.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent