New analysis of government figures by Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest automotive servicing and repair company, reveals that last year more than 73,500 drivers in England and Wales were taken to court for keeping a vehicle which does not meet insurance requirements1.
This is a 78% increase on five years ago and works out at over eight drivers every hour of the year. While drivers committing this offence will first receive a fixed penalty notice of £100, the average fine for drivers going to court over the last year was £205, meaning that fines for this offence totalled more than £12.4 million.
One of the main reasons why drivers face this penalty is for keeping a car off road but not registering it as such. A vehicle must either be insured or registered with a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). If the DVLA doesn’t have a SORN recorded for a vehicle then it has to be insured, even if it is only used on private land, parked in a garage or undergoing long term repairs or restoration.
Kwik Fit found that overall, more than 169,000 motorists were taken to court in 2018 for insurance-related infringements last year – a 26% rise compared to the 134,000 in 2013. While keeping a vehicle which doesn’t meet insurance requirements is often a result of owners being unaware of the rules around needing a SORN for a vehicle they are not using, all drivers should be clear about the need for insurance when driving.
However, many drivers are flouting that law as 95,000 cases were brought last year against motorists for using a motor vehicle uninsured against third party risks – up 4% compared to 2013. In total, offences relating to insurance made up almost a quarter (24%) of all vehicle offences in 2018.
When broken down by gender, Kwik Fit’s analysis found that men (105,861) account for almost two thirds (63%) of insurance offences, compared to women who account for 18% (29,793) (the remaining 20% comprises companies or unknown). This is in spite of the fact that 47% of full driving licence holders are female.
Last year more than £52 million in fines were handed down to the 96% of defendants who were ordered to pay fines as a result of insurance infringements. The average fine amount was £353, while nearly a third of fines (29%) resulted in a fine of more than £500. This is an increase of £20 million compared to five years ago.
The overall insurance infringement hotspots across England and Wales are:
Metropolitan – 26,801 cases (16%)
West Yorkshire – 19,482 cases (12%)
Sussex – 18,495 cases (11%)
West Mercia – 12,270 cases (7%)
Avon and Somerset – 10,951 cases (6%)
Sussex has also seen the sharpest rise in cases of car insurance crime, rising from 2,319 cases in 2013 to 18,495 last year – a near eightfold increase. North Yorkshire, meanwhile, has seen the greatest decrease in insurance crime, falling by 42%, from 1,337 cases in 2013 to 777 in 2018.
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit says: “Many drivers may assume that the offence of not meeting insurance requirements is due to making unapproved modifications or not maintaining their car properly, but in the majority of offences this is not the case. Drivers who decide not to use their car and take it car off road temporarily, for whatever reason, must ensure that they register a SORN with the DVLA.
“It is also vital to note that SORNs need to be renewed each year to ensure drivers keep within regulations. Registering a SORN is free, and as we have seen from our analysis, failing to do so can prove very costly.”