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Two million motorists mistakenly driving without insurance

Press release: 05/11/2012

  • Almost two million Brits have driven a friend's car wrongly believing they were insured to drive it [1]

  • One in six (18%) motorists have lent their car to someone else

  • One in twenty (5%) motorists have allowed someone else to drive their car, thinking they were insured to do so when they were not

  • Nearly half (44%) of all motorists say they would lend their car to a friend even if they knew they were not insured to drive it

Millions of UK motorists have unwittingly driven without insurance, risking penalty points, a fine or a driving ban if caught by the police.

New research from LV= car insurance reveals that 2.2 million motorists have driven without insurance [2] with the majority of these (1.8 million) mistakenly believing they were insured at the time. Many motorists assume the insurance on the vehicle they are borrowing, or the insurance they have on their own car, will automatically extend to other vehicles but this is often not the case.

The number of motorists borrowing cars has risen 14% in the last year [3]. Driving a vehicle without insurance, or allowing your vehicle to be used by another driver without insurance, is a serious motoring offence [4]. Those caught by the Police face fines of up to £5,000, up to eight penalty points on their licence and in some circumstances an instant driving ban can be imposed.

According to official Police data obtained by a freedom of information request from LV= car insurance, 22,000 drivers have been caught using a vehicle uninsured and been awarded penalty points in the past six months yet this is just the tip of the iceberg as motorists driving friend's or relative's cars without insurance goes largely undetected.

One in six (18%) motorists have lent their car to someone else and of these, almost a fifth (19%) believed there was valid insurance in place when there wasn’t and a further 4% simply didn't care that the driver was not insured. Both the car-lender and car-borrower would be guilty of committing a motoring offence if they were caught by the Police.

Close to half (47%) of car-lenders who are committing a crime by lending their car to an uninsured driver say they lend their vehicle at least once a month. Of these, a quarter (28%) lend their car to an uninsured son or daughter and 15% to a flatmate.

The main reason for this apathy is that motorists do not perceive this as a serious crime and believe they will get away with it. Four in ten (44%) drivers say they would lend their car to a friend who is not insured to drive it, regardless of the law.

John O'Roarke, Managing Director of LV= car insurance, comments: "Thousands of motorists lend their cars to others and don’t realise they are not insured to drive them. If someone has driven your car without insurance, and with your permission, you could face a fine and up to eight points for permitting a vehicle to be on a public road without an insurance policy being in force.

"The root of the problem is that many drivers assume that by having comprehensive insurance on their own vehicle, they are automatically covered to drive other vehicles – but this is not always the case. Some policies offer no cover at all, some offer third party only, meaning in the event of an accident where the car borrower was at fault there would be no payment for any damage to the vehicle. We would advise drivers who are lending out their car to add the car-borrower to their insurance policy as a named driver to ensure there is valid insurance in place."

Notes to editors

The research was conducted by ICM research. ICM questioned 2,029 adults of which 1632 drivers aged 18+ in GB online during 24 and 27 August 2012. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

All 51 police forces in the UK were asked how many of the following motoring offences were recorded in your force area in the years specified: IN10: Using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks in 2010, 2011 and (so far in) 2012. 36 provided figures, five confirmed that they didn't record it as a separate offence and 10 forces are yet to respond.

[1] There are 36,700,000 drivers in the UK. According to ICM, 5% of drivers who have driven a car without insurance did so thinking they were insured when they were not. This equates to 1,835,000 drivers.

[2] There are 36,700,000 drivers in the UK. According to ICM, 6% of drivers have driven a car without insurance. This equates to 2,202,000 drivers.

[3] Among all motorists close to one in four (23%) have lent their car to someone on a one-off or short-term basis, with over half (57%) of these doing so this year – an increase of 14% from 2011.

[4] If someone has driven your car without insurance, and with your permission, you have committed the offence of permitting a vehicle to be on a public road without an insurance policy being in force and could face a fine and 6-8 points on your driving licence.

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LV= employs 5,500 people and serves over five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG.

Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.