Continuous Insurance

coninsuranceIn June this year, the Department of the Environment (DOE) Minister Mark H Durkan launched a public consultation on proposals to reduce the number of uninsured motorists.

The proposal was to introduce a Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme, similar if not the same to the scheme that has been in place since 2011 in Great Britain.

Under the proposed Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme, it would be an offence to be the keeper of an uninsured vehicle, rather than just to drive when uninsured.

In other words drivers and riders would be required to have a vehicle insured at all times, whether kept on the road or off the road e.g. on a private driveway or in a garage, unless there was a valid Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) in place.

The consultation also proposed the removal of (i) the vehicle insurance check when taxing a vehicle and (ii) the need to return motor insurance certificates if a policy is cancelled mid-term.

The proposal also outlined how the scheme would work to identify uninsured vehicles.

  • The vehicle registration authority would work in partnership with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to identify uninsured vehicles.
  • Motorists would receive a letter telling them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured and warning them that they will be fined unless they take action.
  • If the keeper fails to insure the vehicle they would be given a £100 fine.
  • If the vehicle remains uninsured – regardless of whether the fine is paid – further action would be taken. If the vehicle is on public land it could then be clamped, seized and destroyed. Alternatively court action could be taken, with the offender facing a fine of up to £1,000.
  • Seized vehicles would only be released when the keeper provided evidence that the registered keeper is no longer committing the offence of having no insurance and the person proposing to drive the vehicle away is insured to do so.

Fines for the offence are proposed as: For the offence of driving without insurance the police can offer a fixed penalty of £200 plus six penalty points, or prosecution (maximum fine of £5,000), discretionary disqualification and mandatory endorsement of between six and eight penalty points.

All The Positives

The Minister and the proposal documents state that the scheme could lead to a 20% reduction in uninsured driving, which insurers have pledged would lead to a reduction in insurance premiums.

Apparently there are over 33,000 drivers in Northern Ireland currently drive without insurance. This adds £15 – £30 to every motor insurance premium here.

The minister also stated, “More than 33,000 drivers in Northern Ireland are flouting the law by driving without insurance. There is evidence that uninsured drivers are more likely to be involved in road traffic collisions and to be engaged in other criminal activity. Research also suggests that most offenders without insurance will not have valid MOT tests or motor tax, with many also having no driving licence or a previous ban.”

The consultation ran from the 4th June 2014 until the 29th July 2014 and although we had the opportunity to reply to the public consultation at Right To Ride we decided not to respond.

The reason behind this was that we regard the proposal for the introduction of the scheme more a fait accompli than an actual proposal.

The scheme is already running in the rest of the UK since 2011, consulted on in GB in 2004/2005, the enthusiasm of the minister for the scheme and in the proposal itself on the objectives, preferred options the benefits of the scheme and the need to meet international obligations or in improved compliance with domestic statute.

Therefore there was no real reason to reply to the consultation within these terms.

Tide of Electronic Registration and Checks

Also announcements had been made within the consultation period of the closure of Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) offices in Northern Ireland with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea taking over full responsibility for all vehicle licensing services and the removal of the issuing of a paper tax disc and thus the requirement to display the paper tax disc on a motorcycle or vehicle windscreen.

The ability to make a SORN declaration online without having to renew it every year if your vehicle is still “off the road”

In other words an unstoppable tide of electronic registration and checks and who wouldn’t want to keep uninsured vehicles of the road and have all your vehicle and your details kept on a handy accessible data base for checks by the necessary authorities and others.

As the minister stated, “I have made it clear to the insurance industry as part of my work to tackle the high costs of motor insurance premiums here, that interventions which reduce uninsured driving must be reflected in lower premiums. I am pleased to say the insurers have committed to taking this action. This is great news for law-abiding motorists who are currently paying £15 – £30 extra every year in their motor insurance premium to cover the cost of uninsured drivers.” the minister concluded that, “I am determined to tackle the high cost of motor insurance premiums and to rid the roads of the menace of uninsured driving.”

Now how could you argue against that?

A Stitch Up

Well, you could of course argue that this is a stitch up.

Why you might ask?

Simply because the reason that there are so many uninsured drivers in the UK is due to the way vehicles are insured.

The UK is one of the few countries in the world whereby 3rd party only requires both the vehicle and the person to be insured. In most European countries, only the vehicle is insured and any person who has the permission of the owner and a relevant licence can drive/ride the vehicle.

What this also means is that the insurance industry in the UK can force drivers and rider to accept any policy e.g. TPFT or Fully Comprehensive if the insurer wishes.

With the support of a government that hasn’t got a clue and effectively supports this oligopoly, drivers and riders are taken to the cleaners.

Add to the fact that if a vehicle is on private land – the insurance companies have no right, legally or otherwise to force the keeper of the vehicle to take out insurance.

But hey!

Why get in the way of legalised robbery ?

If the minister really wanted to tackle the high cost of motor insurance premiums and to rid the roads of the menace of uninsured driving, then all the government needs to do is to bring the insurance industry in line with other European countries and separate 3rd party insurance in such a way that only the vehicle needs insuring.

Links & Information

Original Source – DOE – Click Here

View the closed consultation – Click Here

How it works in England – Scotland – Wales – Click Here

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