21st March 2018
The next time your car insurance provider prompts you to renew your policy, you could be shocked at the increase in your premiums. As reported by The Guardian this year, the Association of British Insurers claims that average premiums have reached £481, an increase of 9% from the year before.
With these costs having hit a new high, you could be tempted to forgo car insurance entirely. However, this would be a risky strategy, given that it is illegal and can have broad and adverse implications if you are caught without insurance. What may you pay for trying to avoid insurance?
The costs of car insurance look even more eye-watering if we look to a recent AA study of "shop-around prices". In the same week as the ABI's shock revelations, the AA said that premiums increased by 2% during 2017, resulting in these premiums touching an average price of £666.
The noticeable discrepancy with the ABI's findings can be explained by the fact that, whereas the ABI considers prices that customers actually pay, the AA instead assesses quoted prices - which, on average, tend to be higher. However, in either case, the situation is clear: car insurance premiums are becoming precariously high. Is attempting to avoid such insurance altogether really an option?
Your vehicle must be insured before it can be legally used on roads or in public areas. This law is made clear on the UK Government's website and applies in England, Wales and Scotland; in Northern Ireland, different rules apply for vehicle insurance.
If this vehicle is found to have been driven uninsured, you could be hit with a fixed penalty of £100 and a court prosecution possibly leading you to be fined up to £1,000. Meanwhile, the vehicle itself could be wheel-clamped, impounded or destroyed.
It should also be emphasised that, if you are this vehicle's registered keeper, the insurance status of the person who actually drove the car is irrelevant; ultimately, you are the one who could be penalised. Even if the car is not being used on the road, you would still need to pay for insurance unless you make what is called a Statutory Off Road Notification - or SORN.
However, in making sure that you do not fall foul of UK insurance law, you also need to verify that you, the driver, are suitably insured to drive a vehicle when you wish to do so. It is not sufficient for the vehicle itself to be correctly insured; you could still face a penalty if, as that vehicle's driver, you are not named on an insurance policy that would legally let you drive this vehicle.
If the police discover that you are not insured to drive a vehicle you have actually been driving, they could impose a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points. The punishment could be even more severe if the case takes you to court, as this could result in you not only getting an unlimited fine but also being disqualified from driving.
The police would also be allowed to seize and possibly even destroy the vehicle that you have been driving in violation of this particular aspect of insurance law.
If both you and your vehicle are insured, but someone else wants to temporarily use that vehicle, you should first check that this would be legally okay. To this end, you could have the other person follow The Telegraph's advice that they ask their own insurer whether they are covered to use your vehicle. Otherwise, they could end up facing the just-mentioned penalties.
You might still be tempted to handle a car without taking out insurance for either yourself or the vehicle. You might be convinced that, if your road travels will be limited to occasional trips, you might be able to "get away with it". However, this could be a very costly assumption...
These days, it isn't entirely beyond either possibility or reality for police to use automatic number plate recognition, otherwise known as ANPR, to identify uninsured cars. Should you indeed be caught by this technology, the car would be confiscated until you provide evidence of insurance.
Hence, your focus should be on trimming the expense of car insurance rather than entirely avoiding such insurance. Here at Call Wiser, we can offer you cost-effective car insurance.
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