It’s commonly understood that having car insurance is a necessity if you want to drive on UK roads.
But what happens when drivers without insurance are involved in a collision? Who pays out for damages — and what can happen to an uninsured driver if they’re caught?
In our in-depth guide below, we break down everything you need to know about uninsured drivers, from what the law says about it to ways you can report it.
- Is it illegal to be an uninsured driver?
- What are the penalties for being caught without insurance?
- What to do if you're hit by an uninsured driver
- Who pays for damage caused by an uninsured driver?
- Does third party insurance cover against uninsured drivers?
- What is the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB)?
- How is my No Claims affected if I'm hit by an uninsured driver?
- How to report an uninsured driver
Is it illegal to be an uninsured driver?
Yes, it is illegal to drive a car in the UK without being insured to do so. To drive a car on UK roads, you must have third party car insurance at the very least.
Although uninsured drivers do have certain legal rights if they get into an accident, they’ll still face charges from the police if they’re caught behind the wheel without a valid insurance policy in place.
It’s also illegal to own a car without insurance, even if it’s just parked outside your house. You’ll need to register a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) for any vehicles you own that you aren't driving on the road: only then are you legally allowed to have no insurance in place.
What are the penalties for being caught without insurance?
If you’re caught driving without a valid car insurance policy, you can expect an on-the-spot fine of £300. The police will also add 6 to 8 penalty points on your licence. If you’re caught without a licence, you could face an additional fine of up to £1,000 and even be arrested.
If your case makes it to court, you could be fined even more severely: unsuccessful appeals can result in a £5,000 fine. In some cases, you’ll even face a driving ban and seizure of your car.
You’ll also be fined if you’re caught without a SORN on a parked vehicle. The police can hand out £100 fines if they find non-SORN cars, which can increase to as much as £1,000 if you’re taken to court. And the costs don’t end there: you’ll also be forced to purchase car insurance as well.
What to do if you're hit by an uninsured driver
If you are hit by an uninsured driver, don’t panic. While that’s easier said than done, your insurer is likely to require some specific information from you to help with their investigations following an accident with an uninsured driver, so it’s important that you stay calm.
The information you’ll need to provide varies from insurer to insurer. Some may ask for photographs from the scene of the accident, while others require witness accounts to substantiate your claim.
At Swinton, we’ll ask for the following information:
- The registration and model of the other vehicle
- The other driver’s details, including their name and address
Who pays for damage caused by an uninsured driver?
If they’re at fault
If you take out a Car Insurance policy with Swinton Insurance, you’ll be covered for any damage caused to your car by an uninsured driver.
If we’re unable to trace the person responsible for the accident, or if it is proven that you caused the accident, we will handle your claim, but you will not be able to claim for damages caused by an uninsured driver.
If you’re at fault
If you cause an accident and you have a comprehensive Car Insurance policy, the cost of repairing both your car and the uninsured driver’s car is covered.
If you only have third-party insurance, you’ll have to pay for any repairs to your own car yourself, but the uninsured driver’s car will still be covered.
The other driver may still be fined and even have their car seized and destroyed, if they’re found not to have insurance.
If who is at fault is disputed
If the party at fault is disputed, you should get the police involved as soon as possible. You should also get several witness statements to back up your story.
It’s impossible to prove fault if no police report is filed, so you’ll need to do this to make sure your claim isn’t contested by your insurer.
Does third party insurance cover against uninsured drivers?
You will not be covered against uninsured drivers if you only have third-party insurance. However, you can try to claim some costs back from the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB).
What is the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB)?
The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) compensates victims of accidents involving uninsured drivers or drivers whose insurance details can’t be found.
It was originally founded in 1946, and has since been funded by all UK motors insurers. Between £15 and £30 of each annual car insurance policy sold in the UK goes towards this fund.
You can visit the MIB’s excess and claims information centre to learn how you can get compensation if you’re hit by an uninsured driver who can’t be traced.
How is my No Claims affected if I'm hit by an uninsured driver?
While investigations are ongoing, you may have to pay the amount of your excess and temporarily lose your No Claims Bonus.
However, if we establish the other driver is uninsured, and the accident is their responsibility:
- Your excess will be refunded.
- Your no claims bonus will be reinstated
- You’ll receive a refund for any additional premium you may have paid.
How to report an uninsured driver
If you encounter an uninsured driver on the road, you can report them to the police by calling 101. Some local police forces have an online Live Chat facility you can use instead. This allows you to get details across more easily and keep phone lines open for other users.
For more information about assisting the police catch uninsured drivers, refer to the MIB’s reporting advice page.
In accidents involving an uninsured driver, the MIB advises that the accident should be reported to the police within 14 days for claims involving personal injury. For claims involving damage to property, such as damage to your car, get in touch within five days.
Reassured, not uninsured
At Swinton, we’ve created a set of comprehensive Car Insurance policies designed to give you peace of mind, even from the threat of uninsured drivers. When you take out a Swinton policy, you’ll be covered for damages regardless of whether or not the other party was insured.
For more information, see our Car Insurance page today.