Rising numbers of uninsured drivers in the UK are causing concern. The Motor Insurer’s Bureau places the current number at 1.5 million, holding them responsible for 200 deaths each year, as well as hundreds of injuries. One reported survivor of such an accident, Glenn Jones, faces lifelong disability even after extensive treatment. His family, career and life have apparently been ruined after an incident four years ago. He received just £300 as compensation, while the offender David Lee Matthews escaped with a £320 fine and a one year driving ban. NoClaimsDiscount.co.uk receives many such stories on their news desk and the sad thing is - Mr Matthews punishment was actually harsher than those handed down to most uninsured drivers.
In addition to the cost to human life, these accidents cost the insurance industry £500 million annually. Recent MIB statistics state that a fifth of uninsured drivers in the country are young people from predominantly urban areas, below age 20. Bradford tops the list of uninsured drivers, with Bradford Moor, Thornbury and Barkerend showing 66% of car owners without insurance.
Road safety campaigners and insurers have called for an urgent review of current rules. Average fines have actually fallen from £224 to £185 despite increasing instances of uninsured driving. When compared to the fines for lesser offences (like £1,000 for not paying TV license, £1,000 for dodging fares on London transport or £5,000 for graffiti), the fine for uninsured driving is negligible. Although Courts can now hand out prison sentences to uninsured, unlicensed or disqualified drivers if they cause death, the power of this punishment to act as a deterrent is being widely debated. Also, since monthly car insurance premiums are significantly higher than the fine for uninsured driving, some young drivers are still trying to avoid paying for third party cover.
Insurance experts advise that seeking online quotes or approaching an insurance broker can cut costs and premiums by up to 35%. Comparison sites like MoneySupermarket.com or GoCompare.com offer comprehensive information about insurance options along with a broad range of available prices. Leading insurers also offer a 5%-35% premium discount to people passing the government Driving Standard Agency’s Pass Plus Test within six months of passing their driving test. Plus, insurers like Direct Line offer the Uninsured Driver Promise. A claimant involved in an accident with an uninsured driver that was not his fault can now keep his or her No Claims Discount and is not required to pay extra on the policy.
Insurers list immediate steps to be taken when involved in an accident with an uninsured driver:
1. Collect details of the other driver and / or car owner including car registration number, make and model.
2. Call the police as soon as possible if you suspect that the other driver is uninsured.
3. Get your insurer to check the Motor Insurance Database which lists over 35 million insured vehicles throughout Britain.
4. Note down the names and contact details of any witnesses.
5. Take pictures of the accident scene, including those of the other car and driver if possible. Use your mobile phone if necessary.
6. Write down details of road signs at the site and weather conditions at the time of the accident.
7. Refrain from discussing the accident with the other driver or admitting liability.
Until we have strong and effective legal deterrents and incentives for individuals to have the proper insurance, the burden of costs will continue to sit predominantly on the shoulders of the honest policyholder.
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