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More than 7,000 vehicles were seized by the PSNI last year, with over a fifth due to not having insurance.*

The most recent statistics from the PSNI show that insurance offences in 2023 accounted for 18% of total offences, making them the largest offence group recorded (7,298), accounting for nearly a fifth of all motoring offences.

The police can give out a fixed penalty of £5,000 and 6 to 8 penalty points if a driver is caught driving a vehicle without insurance. With the potential for the severity to escalate to a disqualification from driving and even six months in prison.

As of January 2022, a car insurance rule change by the FCA meant that insurers could not ‘walk up’ your insurance premium when it came to renewal time, they must give all customers, not just new customers, access to the most competitive offers.  With these changes came updates to the auto renewal process, making it easier for people to opt out or cancel their automatic renewal.

It’s therefore never been so important for drivers to remember when their car insurance policy needs to be purchased again or this could lead to an increase in drivers unaware their insurance has expired.

CompareNI.com analysed a sample of over 5000 impounded vehicles throughout 2023, with the average driver found to be 35 years old, with no prior claims or motoring convictions.  The team at CompareNI.com also noticed a surge in demand for impound insurance across the last quarter, up 33% from August to September and up a further 12% from September to October.

Responding to the research, Ian Wilson, Managing Director at CompareNI.com said: “Driving without insurance is now the most common motoring offence in Northern Ireland, increasing by 4% in the last year.

“However, as our data shows, many of those who have had their vehicle impounded have had no prior claims or motoring convictions. This suggests that in many cases this could have simply been a mistake of lapsed or outdated insurance paperwork.

“Recent changes in renewal legislation may also be playing a part in the number of vehicles impounded. Drivers should check insurance documents regularly and set reminders for insurance renewal dates and MOT expiry dates, which can impact their insurance coverage.

“Drivers can face fines, disqualification from driving, impound charges and penalty points if caught driving without a licence, which can increase insurance premiums by 5% for three penalty points and 25% for six points if they’re starting from a clean licence. In addition to this they will need to take out ‘impound’ insurance in order to have the vehicle released.

“As car insurance prices continue to rise, there are a number of steps drivers can take to ensure they are not paying more than they need to. Comparison sites can help drivers compare quotes and find the cheapest deals. Drivers can also review the specifics of their policy and see if there are further ways to save, such as parking their car in a private driveway, keeping mileage to a minimum and avoiding modifications.”

Lack of insurance is not the only reason vehicles can be impounded, other issues such as being  involved in an accident, driving without a licence, being parked illegally, and driving in an antisocial manner can all see the vehicle impounded.

Drivers won’t be allowed to reclaim their impounded vehicle without impound insurance, a short-term motor insurance policy that is intended to cover your vehicle for at least 30 days.  They’ll also need to take their driving documents and proof of insurance when collecting the car.

*https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/psni-seized-over-7000-vehicles-last-year-but-cant-say-how-many-were-returned/42027591.html?

** https://www.psni.police.uk/sites/default/files/2023-11/Motoring%20offences%20monthly%20update%20to%20end%20September%202023.pdf

***https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/penalties

 

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For more information and access to the New Driver NI magazine see www.newdriverni.com.

If you would like New Driver NI to visit your school for a Safe Motoring presentation please contact info@newdriverni.com.

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