for police to carry out roadside checks was welcomed yesterday by the
drivers' insurance details by enabling police to access a
computerised information register as soon as they stop a motorist.
It will remove the need for honest vehicle owners to produce their
insurance certificates at police stations, and reduce valuable police
time spent dealing with law-abiding motorists.
The database, which is being launched by the motor insurer's
information centre, will contain similar information to that
currently found on motor insurance certificates. Policyholders'
privacy will be protected by safeguards to ensure that only the
police have access to personal insurance details.
It is estimated that up to 1.25m drivers are uninsured - the
equivalent of one in 20 cars on the road - but only around 300,000
drivers are convicted of insurance offences each year. This costs the
insurance industry more than£400m yearly, which includes
compensation for victims of accidents involving uninsured drivers,
and adds up to£30 to a motor insurance premium for the honest
Home office minister Bob Ainsworth, who will attend the launch of the
Motor Insurance Database, said:
'The new database is good news for the victims of accidents because
it will help to reduce the number of motorists who drive without
insurance cover. It is also good news for law-abiding motorists who
will be relieved of the burden of subsidising the dishonest motorist.
'The only people who will not see it as good news are the
irresponsible cheats who refuse to pay for motor insurance. They can
be certain that their chances of being caught and prosecuted have
The database will also help with the detection of other motoring
offences, including driving without road tax, driving without an MoT,
and driving whilst disqualified.
1. The motor insurer's information centre, which is a subsidiary of
the motor insurers bureau, will be running the Motor Insurance
2. The Vehicle Crime Act 2001 provides for the police to be given
access to the Motor Insurance Database, a centralised computer
register of motor insurance policies, to reduce the level of
3. In the first phase, the database contains insurance details of
privately-owned vehicles only. Over the next two years insurance
details for fleet and commercial vehicles will be added to the
4. European countries that use the database system report evasion
levels of 1% or less compared to the UK's level of around 5%. These
include Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and Spain.
5. The current system for checking motor insurance is time-
consuming and expensive. It requires police to issue a form (HORT
1) in each case where evasion is suspected. The motorist must
present the form along with their insurance documentation at a
police station within seven days. A further form must then be
completed and returned to the original officer before, if
appropriate, a prosecution can be started.
6. ACPO estimate a police saving in excess of£15m each year by
dispensing with unnecessary bureaucracy.
7. Since 1946, the motor insurance bureau (MIB) has been
responsible for operating the UK National Guarantee Fund ensuring
victims of uninsured drivers are compensated. To this end, a levy
is charged on insurance premiums. In 2000 this was around£215m. In
addition, the costs borne by the insurance companies directly are
thought to be at least as much again through loss of premium
income. These are both passed onto policyholders in the form of
higher premiums, which are, on average,£15-£30 a year.
8. The database will enable the UK to comply with the requirement
of the 4th European Union Motor Insurance Directive by providing
accident victims with details of the other parties' insurer.
9. Government policy is to provide the public with the option of
accessing services electronically by 2005. The database will form
part of the system which will allow motorists to re-licence their
vehicle electronically rather than having to go to a Post Office or
sending a form to the DVLA in Swansea.
10. The maximum fine for driving without insurance is a£5,000 fine
with a compulsory six to eight penalty points on the licence.