The government is set to announce new plans to clamp down on uninsured drivers by making it an offence to keep an uninsured vehicle, rather than just if you are caught driving a vehicle without insurance.
That means every car in the country must be insured or have a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) under the new regulations being introduced in the spring.
The government hopes this stricter approach will reduce the estimated 1.4 million motorists who drive uninsured in the UK.
The Continuous Insurance Enforcement regulations
Road safety minister Mike Penning is expected to approve the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) in the next few week, meaning every vehicle in the country will be checked on a central database for insurance information.
These regulations state that it is compulsory for a registered owner to either declare their car as SORN or have minimum third-party motor insurance. Failure to do either will result in a series of escalating penalties, from £100 to £1,000 fines and having your vehicle clamped, seized and destroyed.
The Motor Insurance Bureau’s Motor Insurance Database (MID) will be cross-referenced with the DVLA Registered Vehicle Database to identify keepers of vehicles that may be uninsured.
Those keepers that are identified on the database will be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) as a result.
If the letter is not acted on, the registered keeper could receive anything from a £100 fine to court prosecution and having the car crushed.
This means, even if a car is on bricks, in a garage, being restored or just in pieces, car owners will no longer be able to let their car insurance lapse, unless they make a SORN declaration.
Uninsured drivers cost the UK £500 million a year
The move is an attempt to take the fight to the 1.4 million uninsured drivers on the UK’s roads – we currently have the highest number of uninsured drivers in the whole of western Europe.
The government predicts the stricter regulations will prevent insurance premiums rising an average of £30 a year, and start to make an impact on the £500-million-a-year costs of accidents involving uninsured drivers.
It is estimated that uninsured and untraced drivers kill 160 people and injure 23,000 in the UK every year. Surveys also suggest uninsured drivers are more likely to have accidents, do not follow road traffic signs and signals and potentially are involved in other criminal activity.
Last month, the Motor Insurance Bureau released figures showing the Vauxhall Astra as the most commonly removed car from the road, followed by the BMW 3 Series, Vauxhall Vectra Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Corsa.
What to do if you’re not insured
If you are a registered keeper of a car that is off the road, you must either get it insured immediately or submit a SORN declaration to the DVLA.
It is also worth considering the following:
• Check the Motor Insurance Database for free to see if you have a valid insurance record. If you don’t appear, you should contact your insurance provider to get the database updated immediately.
• If you are keeping your car off the road, make sure you have already submitted a SORN declaration and returned the tax disc, if it has one, to the DVLA.
• When insuring your car, check the MID to make sure your vehicle is reported correctly.
Get more from Which? Car
Email: Stay in touch with all the up-to-date car news, hot deals, latest first drives and reviews posted on our website each week. Sign up to the Which? Car weekly email to receive our free Friday bulletin.
Magazine: Which? Car Magazineis the UK’s only independent car guide (we don’t take ads, so our reviews are totally impartial). It’s packed with new and used car reviews, money-saving features and advice, and is on sale quarterly for £4.99. Stockists include Sainsbury’s, Tesco, WH Smith, Martin McColl and good independent newsagents.