Uninsured driving is never far from the headlines, but how much do you know about it? asks Fiona Andrews

Uninsured driving is a perennial problem for the motor insurance industry, and indeed for law-abiding motorists in general. It is easy to foresee the kind of problems that arise following an accident where the person at-fault carries no insurance. It is also estimated that a typical motor insurance premium is inflated by around £30 because of the general cost of uninsured driving. Over 1 million drivers are thought to have no motor insurance. It is also the case that uninsured drivers are considered more likely to commit other offences, such as driving vehicles without an MOT.A report on the subject was published in October by Professor Greenaway. The report quantifies the extent of the problem and puts forward a raft of recommendations to bring about a rapid, practical and equitable solution.Among the principal recommendations of Greenaway are:

  • Insurance providers should be required to collect systematically and report information on claims relating to incidents involving uninsured drivers
  • Both government and industry should develop a programme to heighten awareness of the requirement for third-party insurance, the risks of driving uninsured and the consequences of doing so
  • Changes should be made to provide police forces with unrestricted access to the motor insurance database, which should be fully integrated with the police national computer
  • Before being accredited to write motor insurance, providers should be required to sign-up to the Motor Insurers' Bureau and demonstrate that they have the capacity required to comply with rapid data entry to motor insuranc database.
  • The permitted interval between an insurance policy being issued and details uploaded in the MID should be reduced from 14 days to seven days by the end of 2006 with a target of 100% compliance.
  • Insurance of the individual driver rather than insurance of the vehicle should continue to be the basis for third party liability cover.
  • Every motor insurance policy which is issued should contain information on both the insured driver(s) and the vehicle(s) they are insured to drive
  • Magistrates should be able to impose tougher penalties for uninsured driving
  • Police should be given the power to seize and destroy vehicles driven uninsured
  • Biba has responded to the report, endorsing a number of the proposals. It concurs with the view that the 15-day road accident cover extension should be abolished and further suggests that every insurer should agree that there is no road accident cover extension.It also supports stiffer penalties for no-insurance offences and advocates a minimum of six points for a first offence, with two offences resulting in a ban. Biba also suggests that an enforcement agency be created, with access to the various databases and with the power to convict, without being a draw on police resources.But there is still general dissatisfaction and unease that uninsured driving remains such a significant thorn in the flesh both of the industry and society at large. This frustration is evidently mounting to the extent that it is triggering the formulation of concrete proposals to tackle the problem.Motor personal injury has been identified as a key area for development during research done with the market by the Faculty of Claims.Important issues mentioned in the report relating to best claims practice will be addressed as part of forthcoming faculty briefings.‘ Fiona Andrews is manager of the Faculty of Claims and head of CPD at the CIIThe Greenaway report can be found at: www.dft.gov.uk

    How much do you know about uninsured driving?Select one correct option.Q1 What combination of factors must a person demonstrate to avoid conviction following the charge of driving an uninsured motor vehicle in the conduct of company business?a) The vehicle did not belong to him and he was using the vehicle in the course of employment onlyb) He was using the vehicle in the course of employment only and had no reason to believe the vehicle was not insuredc) The vehicle did not belong to him and he had no reason to believe the vehicle was not insuredd) The vehicle did not belong to him, he was using the vehicle in the course of employment and had no reason to believe the vehicle was not insured.Q2 The Uninsured Drivers Agreement (1999) covers damage to property where there is NO motor insurance policy in force up to a maximum of:a) £150,000b) £250,000c) £500,000d) £1,000,000.Q3 What is the main role and function of the Motor Insurers' Bureau?a) To act as government regulator of motor insurers under the provision of the Financial Services and Markets Act [2000]b) To act as ‘payer of last resort' to victims of road accidents where the driver has no insurerc) To administer a central database of motor claims, which may be used to deter fraudd) To administer the international ‘green card' system facilitating travel between different countries within Europe.Q4 If the police wished to check that a vehicle was insured, which agency's database, if any, would they use?a) The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authorityb) The Motor Insurers' Bureauc) The Motor Insurers' Information Centred) Such information is not available on a central database.Q5 Which type of vehicle is exempt from the compulsory insurance requirements of the Road Traffic Act [1988]?a) Agricultural tractorsb) Construction plantsc) Invalid carriagesd) Licensed taxis.These questions are taken from the CII examination guide for Motor Insurance Products, a certificate in insurance unit. Answers by left margin

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