How much does it cost if you don’t insure your car? The answer might surprise you and if, like me, you’re a driver who diligently forks out your annual car insurance premium then the answer may very well annoy you.
The government is going ahead with a proposal from the Department of Transport to introduce a fixed penalty fine for owners of uninsured cars.
If DVLA records show that a registered car has no insurance the owner will be sent a warning letter. If a second check the following month reveals that the owner still hasn’t insured the car, then a fixed penalty notice for £100 will be sent. That will be reduced to £50 if the owner then pays quickly. Doesn’t sound like much, does it?
While this may have some effect on the numbers of uninsured drivers it still gives the more unscrupulous drivers a month to drive around without any insurance. There’s also the possibility of buying a policy, paying for it monthly but cancelling the policy after the first payment. Will the DVLA system be able to cope with that and send more fines? And what happens if you don’t pay the fine at all? Do you get fined £100 every month? Insurance dodgers could even declare their car as SORN (off the road) and take their chances at evading the police.
Think it’s unfair to be fined if you genuinely forgot to buy your insurance? Well tough, in an age when it takes just a few minutes to buy your car insurance cover online you’ve really got no excuse.
Existing police powers will remain. They’ll still be able to give a £200 spot fine for drivers caught on the road without insurance, and they can then confiscate the uninsured vehicle. One change is that the cost of reclaiming the car will be significantly increased.
While I don’t have any sympathy for uninsured drivers, you can understand why some might try to get away with it. The cost of insurance continues to rise (thanks, in part, to the cost of incidents involving uninsured drivers) and for some younger drivers the cost of a policy has increased by over 50% in the last year.
Figures from the AA Index show that drivers under 22 have seen their premiums rise by a record 51 percent in the year between September 2009 and September 2010. The average insurance cost for 17 to 22-year-olds is now a massive £1,956 per year, while some can pay up to £2,500. Compare that to those in the lowest risk group, aged 60 to 69, who now pay £390 on average.
So if you’re a young driver what would you rather do? Fork out over £2k for your premium, or risk a stern letter from the DVLA and a £50 fine? That cost goes up if the police pull you over, but even if your car is taken away and crushed, if it’s only worth a few hundred quid then you’re still making a massive saving.
However, don’t forget that there’s the small matter of points on your license – some police forces will issue 6 points with the fixed penalty, but if you’re unlucky enough to get a court summons you could get up to eight points on your license. See what that does to your insurance premiums! Try this a second time and you’re quickly looking at a driving ban, and that will have an even more catastrophic effect on your premiums.
Put simply, your best bet is to buy the damned insurance in the first place. Can’t afford it? Get the bus.
Don’t forget there are ways to drive your premium down. I’ve talked about ways to reduce your premium before, but the first thing to do is to use one of the many websites that allow you to compare car insurance quotes. With just a few clicks of a mouse you might find a company willing to offer you an affordable policy.