According to the Motor Insurers Bureau uninsured drivers cost the insurance industry £500 million a year and add an average of £30 to every motorist’s premium.
If you are in an accident and are worried that the driver is not insured or cannot be traced can you recover compensation?
The answer is that if you suffer injury or financial costs you can obtain financial compensation. You have to check carefully who will be responsible for the claim and comply with certain legal requirements. MoneySupermarket.com carried out research and found 1 in 6 drivers admitted to getting behind the wheel of a car they weren’t insured to drive.
If you are in an accident and find out the other driver doesn’t have insurance, or you can't get their details, or it’s a hit and run accident where they disappear what do you do?
The legal position depends on three main circumstances:
1) Was there an existing insurance policy which covered the vehicle, even if it didn’t cover that driver.
2) You can trace the name and address of the driver but find out there isn’t any insurance which covers that vehicle.
3) It is a hit and run accident and you can't trace the driver or the vehicle.
Sometimes drivers don’t realise how serious the consequences can be if they don’t have insurance. If an individual causes a collision and doesn’t have insurance as we discuss underneath, there is likely to be an insurance body which will pay for the claim, BUT the insurer dealing with the claim will inevitably seek to recover their costs from the individual without insurance. The individual can be faced with a bill for many thousands of pounds for not having insurance. Uninsured drivers pay £380 million a year for causing damages to other motorists. It really isn’t worth taking the risk and for those who are foregoing car insurance for cost reasons, it is clearly a false economy.
Looking at the situations above:
1) If there is an insurance policy covering either the driver or the car at the time of the accident then the injured claimant can recover damages from the insurer. The situation might be that a driver only has a provisional licence and doesn’t have someone travelling with them; they may have no driving licence; the car may have been lent to another party without the insurer being notified; in these circumstances the insurance company who have the existing policy on the car will settle the claim (but look to the party responsible for covering their costs). The responsibility of the insurer to pay is covered by section 151 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. There is a motor insurance database (MID) which provides a motor insurance database information system (MIDIS) to allow registered users to obtain the insurers identity by checking the vehicle’s registration number. Lawford Kidd can access this information for you.
There are certain exceptions to the insurers’ responsibility but generally the existence of an insurance policy covering the vehicle or the driving does give similar protection to the claimant as if the driver had a normal valid insurance policy. There are special provisions relating to foreign accidents particularly in the European union where every country is required to have an information centre identifying the insurer of the other party from the registration plate.
2) What happens if the driver and vehicle have no insurance at all? The situation is then covered by the 1999 Uninsured Drivers Agreement. This agreement provides that claims relating to uninsured drivers will be compensated. The Motor Insurers Bureau was set up in 1946 to help with this cover. It is funded from a levy on insurance members. Ultimately these costs are covered by the motoring public’s insurance premiums (it costs the motorist an additional £30 a year for this fund).
If the driver can be identified and there is no insurer a claim is submitted to the MIB.
The MIB will then investigate and settle the claim.
There are strict provisions which have to be complied to allow the claim to proceed with the MIB.
These requirements are that;
(a) The party claiming has to have asked the party causing the accident for details required under section 154 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 i.e. whether or not the person was insured or there was an insurance policy covering the vehicle and the registration number.
(b) If this information isn’t given to complain to the police.
(c) To use all reasonable efforts to obtain the name and address of the registered keeper of the vehicle.
(d) All this has to be done as soon as is reasonably practicable i.e. it should be done straight away after the accident. It is essential to comply with this provision. Basically the claimant should exchange details of names, addresses and insurance particulars at the scene of the accident, enter into correspondence with the owner of the vehicle or the driver or their representative and if the registration number only is known make enquiries of the DVLA regarding the keeper.
If court proceedings need to be commenced, perhaps because an offer of insufficient compensation is made, or to protect the legal three year time limit then there are strict rules regarding notification to the MIB of the raising of proceedings. The MIB must be notified of the start of the court action within 14 days of the commencement of the proceedings and a copy of the appropriate Writ or Summons and other documents given to them.
3) The third situation that can arise is where the driver cannot be traced. A typical example is where there is a hit and run accident and the party responsible speeds off leaving the injured claimant with no idea who was responsible.
In these circumstances the claim is dealt with under the Untraced Drivers Agreement 2003. Subject to certain conditions payment is given for personal injury compensation. There is a restriction on property damage where there is an excess f £300 i.e. the first £300 won't be paid and there is an upper claim limit of £250,000. If the victim of the accident only suffers damaged property there is a 9 month limitation period. Otherwise there is a three year period and it is a pre-condition of the claim that the accident must be reported to the police within 14 days or if not reasonably possible as soon as possible. A written receipt must be obtained from the police showing the crime number for the report.
The Motor Insurers Bureau has a contact number 01908 830 001 (fax number 01908 671 681) and website www.mib.org.uk. The address is Motor Insurers Bureau, Linfordwood House, 6-12 Capital Drive, Milton Keynes, MK14 6XT.
Lawford Kidd are specialists in dealing with road traffic claims. You will receive free advice from our solicitors in Edinburgh and any claims will proceed on a No Win No Fee basis with 100% compensation.
Contact us immediately on 01312255214.