Time is running out to push through legislation for electronic-only certificates before general election

Concerns are mounting that legislation needed to permit electronic-only delivery of motor insurance certificates will not be passed before the general election, delaying the introduction of the much cheaper new system.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has agreed in principle to change regulations that govern how providers deliver the approximately 40 million motor insurance certificates sent out each year.

But concerns are growing that time will run out for transport ministers to lay down the necessary order before the general election – widely expected to take place in early May – is called and parliament is dissolved.

Whatever the outcome of the vote, there is usually a post-election period of hiatus within departments as new ministers learn their briefs and decide on priorities, meaning that even uncontroversial but low-profile pieces of legislation like the e-delivery measures run the risk of being pushed under the carpet.

Biba technical and corporate affairs executive Graeme Trudgill said that brokers wanted the regulations introduced before the general election so that they could prepare for the introduction of the new system.

He said: “We have put a lot of effort into this over a sustained period. We are on the last lap of the race and we need to get it over the line.”

Under the existing law, customers can receive their documents in an electronic format but they must also be sent a hard copy of any certificates through the post.

Providers believe that they could benefit the environment and save tens of millions of pounds per annum in postage costs by sending out certificates in an electronic format only, either as an email attachment or through a web link.

To enable sole e-delivery, the DfT must amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 using powers under the Electronic Communications Act 2000. The industry has worked closely with the DfT to develop the mooted rule changes.