One in 20 British motorists drives an uninsured vehicle, one of the highest rates in Western Europe and which adds 30 pounds a year to premiums for the rest of the motoring population, figures released on Thursday showed.
In London, Manchester and Liverpool the uninsured rate goes up to one in 10 or higher and there are fears the recession will prompt more drivers to forego insurance, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) said.
“The research shows when times are tough, people will look to cut their motoring costs. Some will try and do without insurance,” said Ashton West, chief executive of the MIB.
“Our message is; Don’t risk it, stay insured. The chance of being caught has never been greater,” he told Reuters.
“In the last two or three years, since police got powers to seize uninsured cars, we have made inroads into the problem.”
Police now confiscate about 500 uninsured vehicles a day and took 185,000 cars off the road last year, which has helped bring the number of claims involving uninsured and untraced vehicles in 2008 to 33,000 against 38,000 in 2005.
The MIB, the body which compensates those people involved in accidents with uninsured or untraced vehicles, said it had to collect more than 400 million pounds from insurers for this purpose — costs passed onto honest drivers.
Younger drivers, who pay the biggest premiums, were the worst offenders with one in 10 claiming they were unaware insurance was a legal requirement.