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But I had Insurance? – Driving without Insurance and how it can affect you

February 22, 2017 by in category Insurance, News with 0 and 0
driving without insurance

You’re stopped by the police for some reason. You realise you were not speeding or doing anything wrong, until they tell you that you have been driving without insurance and offer you a fixed penalty and a fine. You may be thinking this is absolutely outrageous, as you sorted your insurance online ages ago? However, you later find out that your insurance direct debit has lapsed. Surely you have a defence, right? This unfortunately is not the case.

Driving without insurance is considered a strict liability offence. This means that the offence of driving without insurance does not need proof of your intention to result in a conviction.

Any person driving a motor vehicle must have at least third party insurance in place to drive the particular vehicle. People frequently mistakenly assume that fully comprehensive insurance allows them to drive any vehicle. This is not automatically the case and you need to check the wording of the policy very carefully to see what it says about the extent of the cover.

It’s not just you!

It is also possible to be convicted of causing or permitting someone without insurance to drive your vehicle. If found guilty of causing or permitting someone without insurance to drive your vehicle, you will be penalized the same as if you were found to have driven without insurance yourself.

Penalties

Driving without insurance can be dealt with in two ways

1. Fixed Penalty

If you are pulled over and you are offered a fixed penalty for the offence of driving without insurance, you face 6 penalty points and a fine of £300.

2. Magistrates’ Court

If, however, you appear in court for the offence of driving without insurance, the possibility of an increased penalty arises. If you are found guilty, or plead guilty in court, you will face a penalty of between 6-8 penalty points, and an unlimited fine which is based on 1.5 times your weekly net income. The courts also have the power to impose a discretionary disqualification upon you, instead of points, if found guilty of driving without insurance.

Be Warned!

It is possible for the police to seize, and in worst case scenario, destroy your vehicle when for driving without insurance.

Social and Business Purposes

Insurance policies often contain restrictions stating that it will only cover social or domestic use of the vehicle. We have been successful in the past arguing no insurance claims brought to court on this basis.

Common social/domestic uses are:

  • We would argue that if you lend your vehicle to a friend for a pleasure trip but the friend pays you for the use of the vehicle, the use of the vehicle falls within the social and domestic use and it is not a business hire situation.
  • If you give a lift to someone whilst on business rounds (like a lift to a work colleague) this will be classed as social and domestic use.
  • We believe all activities of charity workers, magistrates, and elected Councillors who receive reimbursement of their expenses only using their vehicle in the course of their work will be classed as social and domestic use.

Another common problem is when people agree to work for local take-aways delivering food. Without insurance for business use you will face prosecution.

Business use doesn’t always cover any form of business. With this in mind, when using a vehicle which has a specific business named on its policy and the vehicle is not used in this respect of this business, but for another business, insurance coverage may not apply.

Defences for driving without insurance

Insurance was in place

May sound obvious but if you had insurance, this is the best defence and you should show your original insurance certificate to have the case against you dropped.

Invalid Conditions

If the insurance lapsed due to your insurance company applying certain conditions such as:

  • A restriction due to the age or physical or mental condition of the person driving the vehicle – many insurance policies seek to say that insurance does not extend to a driver under the age of 25 years. If this restriction is applied, it is unlawful and you should succeed in proving that you were validly insured.
  • The condition of the vehicle.
  • The number of people the vehicle carries.
  • The times of driving or the areas where the vehicle was used.
  • The horsepower or cylinder capacity of the vehicle.

And it is found that the reasons for invalidation were not lawful, the insurer may be forced to confirm you had insurance in which case this would be a valid defence to a no insurance prosecution.

Employees

A very common situation that occurs is when an employee uses a vehicle for their employment that they believed was insured, but the employer has failed to insure the vehicle. In these cases, the defendant (you) must prove on a balance of probabilities (more likely than not) that the vehicle did not belong to him, and was not in his possession under a contract of hire or loan and that he was using the vehicle in the course of his employment and that he had no reason to believe that there was no insurance on the vehicle. This is made much easier if the employer is willing to testify to this, however this opens the employer up to prosecution for causing or permitting you to drive while uninsured.

Special Reasons

The most common “special reason” that arises is when children are found to have no insurance and it was honestly believed that their parents were handling it. It is possible that the driver could escape with no endorsement on their licence (this does however still result in a criminal conviction).

In very rare cases where parents give evidence in support of a child’s claim to special reasons, they can face prosecution directly for causing or permitting their child to drive without insurance.

What should I do?

If facing a driving without insurance prosecution, and you are unsure of what to do, call our expert team of motoring solicitors. We will be able to assess the merits of your case and be able to direct you on what to do next. If you wish to see how we handled other cases, such as yours, testimonials can be found on our website for driving without insurance.

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