Any person driving a motor vehicle is required to have at least third party insurance in place to drive that particular vehicle. However, insurance cover is not always straightforward and many people prosecuted for this offence genuinely believed that they were covered by a certificate of insurance when they drove. As harsh as it may seem it is no defence to say you thought you had insurance but your direct debits lapsed.
A phenomenon that has increased in frequency over the last 5 years is people facing prosecution for causing or permitting someone else to drive their car without insurance. If convicted for this offence, you face the same penalty as if you had driven without insurance yourself.
If you supply details of a driver other than yourself in response to a Notice of Intended Prosecution (usually in speed camera or traffic light cases) you may find that the police may come back to you asking for proof of the driver’s insurance. This is quite common in cases where the driver you have named lives abroad.
Social and Business Purposes
Policies of insurance often contain restrictions stating that the insurance will only cover social and domestic use of a vehicle. We have been involved in cases where the police have attempted to argue that a car was being driven outside of the scope for which it was insured. For example a vehicle being driven for pleasure but with a trade policy. Because this is open to interpretation we have been successful in numerous no insurance cases brought by the Crown pursuant to this point.
Some more common but perhaps unknown examples of social and domestic use are set out below:-
Social & Domestic Use
- If you lend your vehicle to a friend for a pleasure trip but the friend pays you for the use of the vehicle, the use of the vehicle falls within the social and domestic use and it is not a business hire situation.
- If you give a lift to someone whilst on business rounds (like a lift to a work colleague) this will be classed as social and domestic use.
- All activities of charity workers, magistrates, and elected Councillors who receive reimbursement of their expenses only using their vehicle in the course of their work will be classed as social and domestic use.
Business use does not always cover any form of business use. There are frequently restrictions on policies for business use where a specific company is named. Therefore, where use in a specific business is named on a policy and the vehicle is used in respect of a different business, cover may not apply.
If an insurer has attempted to invalidate a policy it is always worth checking if the condition they refer to in their terms and condictions is actually a lawful reason to void a policy. There are many unlawful restructions but some of the most common ones are:-
- A restriction due to the age or physical or mental condition of the person driving the vehicle – many insurance policies seek to say that insurance does not extend to a driver under the age of 25 years. If this restriction is applied, it is unlawful and you should succeed in proving that you were validly insured.
- The condition of the vehicle.
- The number of people the vehicle carries.
- The times of driving or the areas where the vehicle was used.
- The horsepower or cylinder capacity of the vehicle.
Where an insurer argues that your insurance was not valid due to the above restrictions, and you are prosecuted for driving with no insurance, the insurer may be forced to confirm that you were insured in which case this would be a valid defence to a no insurance prosecution.
But I have fully comp insurance - I thought I could drive any car and be insured TPFT?
You should always check your policy of insurance for the specific conditions because all policies will differ significantly and having a fully comprehensive policy does not automatically mean you will be insured to drive any other car.
Check out Miss Justice's guestblog on the confused.com blog site for her views on this common misconception.
Special Defence For Employees
One of the most common situations where a driver may be prosecuted for driving without insurance is when an employee uses a vehicle believing they were insured but an employer has failed to ensure that the employee was insured.
The Defendant must prove on the balance of probabilities (in other words more likely than not) that the vehicle did not belong to him and was not in his possession under a contact of hire or a loan and that he was using the vehicle in the course of his employment and that he did not know or have reason to believe that there was no insurance in place for that vehicle.
It could assist greatly if the employer was prepared to give evidence to support this defence but then there is a risk that the employer could be prosecuted for causing or permitting you to drive whilst uninsured.
Special Reasons May Apply
The most common special reason that is accepted in insurance cases is where there is a belief that insurance cover existed which is based on reliance on another party. The most common example is where a child relies upon their parent’s assurance that insurance cover is in place.
Not Sure What to Do?
Most people who get in touch with our team of motor offence expert solicitors are uncertain of their options. They are unaware of any legal defences that may be available and find it difficult to believe that it might be possible to defend the insurance offence they face by using loopholes that apply to the rich and famous! We do represent celebrities but we also represent many hardworking motorists like Brian and we want to help you make the right choice about what you do next.
We are always more than happy to chat things through with potential clients Free of Charge. Call us now on Freephone 0800 085 2784 to speak to one of our specialist motoring offence solicitors. It is only once you decide to instruct us that payment will become necessary and we can often arrange instalment plans to assist you. Many satisfied clients have thanked us for offering this free consultation service as it has prevented them from following inaccurate non-expert advice which could have led to them accepting a driving ban unnecessarily.
If you would like to spend more time browsing on the site before you get in touch, make sure you have a look at our specialist motor offence guidance features such as our penalty calculator which will help you to determine the penalty you may face if convicted and our money saving calculator which helps to outline some of the hidden costs of accepting a conviction.
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