Could you be found guilty
of driving without insurance?
Every now and again we will all be in a situation
where we wish to either lend someone our car, or borrow one ourselves.
Both are pretty routine requirements, but both could also land us with
very severe problems indeed!
We have an epidemic on our roads of people driving without insurance
cover. The reason for it in many cases – although I do not accept it as
an excuse – is a very high cost of car insurance for young people; and
it is interesting to note that drivers under the age of 25 form the
majority of offenders. It had been estimated at about 5%, in other words
one in 20 of the cars on our roads have an uninsured driver behind the
wheel, and if this was not bad enough the chances of these drivers
having an accident is reckoned to be three times that of the average
road user! Whether it is the age range or the type of temperament
typical of an uninsured driver is debatable, but the problems they cause
for other road users are considerable, and because they are almost
invariably unable to pay for damage that they cause the cost of this
inevitably falls onto those of us who pay for our car insurance in the
normal way. The government is doing all it can to get these people off
the road and one method is to ensure that penalties for those caught are
severe; a typical penalty for a first offence is a fine of £200 plus,
and between six and eight penalty points on the licence.
Unfortunately, this means that anyone who drives inadvertently without
insurance will also face these penalties; and it is an extremely easy
thing to do.
Most people who borrow a car rely upon their own car insurance to cover
them, and indeed many comprehensive policies do include cover for
vehicles that do not belong to the driver. However, this is not
universal; and there are also a number of exclusions which have started
to crop up. Often, the use of spouse's vehicle is not included; some
policies exclude vehicles over a certain size, or a certain value. Named
drivers on the policies are almost always excluded. Even worse, a number
of insurance companies have been quietly dropping this provision,
without informing their clients, which means that upon renewing a policy
a motorist could find that he or she was no longer insured for any other
vehicle only by reading the policy documents.
To make things more interesting, it is not only illegal to drive a car
on a public road without insurance, but also to permit one to be so
driven! What this means is that if you lend a car to someone and that
person turns out to be uninsured, you would be guilty of an offence, and
it would not make any difference if you had been told that insurance was
in place, or if you trust the driver implicitly, it is still up to you
to make 100% certain that the car is insured for that driver. Failure to
do so would leave you open to the same penalties as if you were driving
it whilst uninsured yourself.
Here is the main benefit of temporary car insurance (see
here). It is not expensive, and to the cost of a few pounds you
could buy at least third-party cover for the driver be certain that you
are complying with the law; by spending a little bit more you could have
fully comprehensive cover which would protect your vehicle in the event
that it was damaged, stolen or burned whilst in the hands of the other
Many of us rely upon our driving licences for so many things; our jobs,
our duties to friends, parents, immediate family; our holidays away, our
day-to-day travel. To risk losing it for just a few pounds would be
little short of careless.