Driving without insurance

The law requires motorists to have in place a policy of insurance against third party risks and an offence is committed if you have no such policy. An offence is also committed if you permit someone else to drive without a policy.

The court will impose a fine and between 6 and 8 penalty points so a conviction can be serious if you already have points on your licence. The court also has a discretion to disqualify irrespective of the number of points you already have and so these prosecutions need treating with care.

I have come across very many of these offences detected when the police accessed the insurance national database after stopping the driver for something completely unconnected. Many drivers are surprised to learn they are not insured and so thought needs to be given to how lack of knowledge or mistake by insurers or others may help.

It is important to appreciate that driving without insurance is a strict liability offence; in other words if as a fact you were not insured, you have committed an offence.    A mistake or lack of knowledge is no defence.

However, if a policy has been incorrectly cancelled, or delayed being brought into force or if someone else incorrectly states that you are insured, there may be an argument that “special reasons” exist not to endorse the licence with points.

Motor Insurance

If successful this can have a significant impact on the case, but it requires careful presentation because the courts look very closely indeed at the facts. It is not easy to persuade a court that lack of knowledge or a mistake is a special reason because if it was many such offenders would achieve it, and the fact is they do not. The court starts from the general proposition that it is the duty of the driver to know if he is insured. Special reasons might include:

  • a cancellation of an insurance policy by the insurer without telling the policy holder
  • insurance company error
  • trusting and relying on information given by the owner that proves subsequently to be wrong
  • having a genuinely and reasonably held belief you are insured when you are not

A more complete article on special reasons may be found by going to the special reasons helpsheet.

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