Government says legislation was too late for current parliamentary session.

Long-awaited legislation allowing motor insurance certificates to be sent electronically has been delayed until at least April 2009, road safety minister Jim Fitzpatrick has said.

In a recent meeting, the Department for Transport told Biba it was too late for the changes to be introduced in the next parliamentary session, and that they could not happen until next spring at the earliest. The reform was originally meant to be introduced last winter.

Graeme Trudgill, technical corporate affairs executive at Biba, said: “Biba has been in talks with the government for a long time over the delivery of electronic certificate consultation paper and it promised this would be delivered last November. However, here we are in September the following year and now we’re told it’s not going to happen till April 2009 at the earliest.

“We are disappointed it is taking this amount of time for a relatively simple bit of legislation to be processed.”

Biba has estimated that mailing motor insurance certificates costs the industry £11m a year, meaning another £6m will be spent between now and April.

A spokesman from the Department for Transport said: “We are taking this forward as quickly as possible but it does require detailed regulation.”

Biba has campaigned for the change to the law for more than two years. It claims the legislation will create a more automated system, better customer service, the avoidance of repeat calls from customers chasing documents and better adherence to the FSA’s contract certainty requirements. It would also benefit the environment by saving paper.

The instant electronic delivery of the certificates would also have advantages for customers, particularly those buying a new car, as it would provide immediate proof of insurance.

Martin Oliver, managing director of Kwik-Fit Insurance, said: “Customers buying online not only demand low prices and high levels of service, but also expect electronic delivery of documentation immediately.”

It is understood the delay may have been caused by a logjam in the Department for Transport’s legal section. The introduction of this legislation was one of the key points in Biba’s first manifesto, published in January.