09 February 2016
Are You Sure You’re Insured?
If you’re a driver you’re probably used to the annual letter from your insurance company reminding you to renew your cover for your car, but did you read it properly?
Insurance documents aren’t the most exciting thing to receive in the post but if you don’t read them carefully, and make sure you’re covered for all that you do, then you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
Taking Out Insurance
The police can pull you over in your car for having no insurance, even if you think that you have. Car insurance falls into different categories, and you have to make sure that you are covered for what you are doing.
You can be insured for social, domestic and pleasure purposes – known as SDP – and you can be covered for commuting and business purposes. Many people are covered just for SDP so if you’re using your car for business, or going to and from work, you may find that you’re not insured. The police can stop you for having no insurance and issue you with six points and a fine up to £5,000.
Many cases of people being stopped for having no insurance actually got their insurance via price comparison websites, where a few pounds saved here and there can actually mean you’re not getting the right insurance. The cheapest prices quoted are usually for SDP cover and won’t cover you for business or commuting. So if you’re pulled over in rush hour for having no insurance, even though you think you have, the police would actually be correct as you wouldn’t be covered for your daily commute.
When renewing your insurance make sure that before you just file the letter away you actually read it. Some letters say that the company will continue to insure you, but you have to phone to confirm. If you don’t phone the company, the insurance will lapse, and you will then be driving around without insurance. Read your documents carefully, and if they say you have to do something to ensure your cover continues, do it.
Points on Licence
The number of points you have on your licence will affect the price of your car insurance, but if you have points you don’t know about then your insurance could be void. I had a client whose insurance refused to pay out after a crash due to undeclared points on his licence. He didn’t know about the points as a letter was sent out to his old address before he had a chance to inform the DVLA that he had moved.
The undeclared points on his licence made the insurance void, even though he didn’t know about them. Sadly ignorance is no defence in law and by simply saying “I didn’t know” won’t get you off a fine and will leave you with six penalty points and maybe even a disqualification from driving. The cost of repairing the car won’t be paid for either; it could be a very costly mistake.
You can check the status of any points, and see if you have any you didn’t know about, by using the Government’s driving licence checker. You will need your licence number, National Insurance number and the postcode on your licence. It is your responsibility to check your licence before you give details to an insurance company.
My advice would be to check your insurance documents thoroughly – now and at the point of renewal each year. Also, when doing so contact the DVLA to ensure that you don’t have any other points or convictions that you’re not aware of. This whole process will take minutes, but could save thousands of pounds and a lot of stress.
If you have been accused of driving without insurance you will need legal advice from a driving offence lawyer.
Paul Reddy is a Principal Road Traffic Defence Lawyer at Slater and Gordon in Manchester