The signs are that the industry is about to call time on this long standing (and much maligned) ingredient of the standard personal private car policy. DOC has had a number of narrow escapes in the past and it came very near to extinction when we abolished blanket certificates several years ago.

It would be a great pity if it were sacrificed now on the pretext that the motor insurance database (MID) is unable to cope. As I understand it, the reason given is that DOC would undermine the purpose of the MID in eliminating uninsured driving.

While getting rid of DOC may partly close the door on one aspect of uninsured driving, it will blow the hinges off several other doors opening in the opposite direction.

One of the main benefits of the MID is to reduce the cost of uninsured driving to the honest motorist, but, almost before the honest motorist sees any tangible result, he has a slice of his cover (DOC) taken away on account of the MID. I'm not sure the average motorist should be asked to put up with this.

Where will no DOC leave the motorist who wishes to buy or sell a car privately? Nobody in his or her right mind would agree to buy a car without driving it first. As most private cars in the personal market are insured on a named driver basis, the only legal way to test drive a car would be under a DOC cover. The reluctance of most motor insurers to provide even temporary open driving does nothing to help the situation.

In many situations, faced with losing a bargain, many drivers would take a chance and drive uninsured.

Over the years, many of us have been faced with emergency situations where as fit, competent drivers, we have taken the wheel when another driver has got into difficulties. We will not be able to do this post DOC.

Does this mean we should just leave the unfortunate other driver stuck in the ditch or straddling the carriageway because we have no DOC?

The chances are that not many drivers will. Instead the good (if misguided) Samaritan will still try to help. Post DOC, however, there may be a serious price to pay.

I wonder if those insurers who intend to remove DOC have properly thought through the implications of its removal.

As I understand it, the MID has a DOC 'flag' which will show whether a policy has DOC or not. What then, is the problem? If the driver provides the registration number of his own car, the police can check whether or not the policy has DOC. If everything is in order, the driver goes on his way, if not, he gets a 'producer'- in other words the current situation applies.

Do insurers think that removing DOC will cut a huge chunk off the MIB levy? I think not. In my estimation; a large number of the 'uninsured driver' cases created by the removal of DOC will remain with the insurers of the car as Road Traffice Act insurer.

I suggest the real reasons for removal of DOC are as follows:

  • Just another excuse for overstretched police forces not to get to grips with uninsured drivers. They already have MID, and we are told they are using it. If this is the case, they should use the DOC flag as well.
  • It is one thing less for staff to know or be trained on before they go into the call centre. If I were asked to give reasons for removal of DOC, the most important would be its total misinterpretation by insurers, not policyholders. Mistakes range from, the cover itself, who is entitled to DOC, what is a motor car, and use permitted under DOC.
  • DOC is unfortunate in that its proposed demise has emerged at the same time as the market is getting rid of 'days of grace'. These two issues have been lumped together and DOC is suffering from the almost universal acceptance that days of grace should go.

    There is a fundamental difference, however. DOC has a useful and important purpose. Days of grace do not.

    Roy Rodger
    Technical & training consultant
    Motor Investigation Agency