Can you claim compensation against uninsured drivers?

Cars braking in traffic

It is estimated that there are over 1 million uninsured vehicles on UK roads each year. What are your rights if you are hit by an uninsured driver?

The overriding purpose of car insurance is to ensure that in the event of an accident the driver at fault is able (via their insurance company) to meet the cost of any loss, injury and damage sustained by those he hits, to put them back in the position they would have been in had the accident never happened. 

Road traffic insurance is compulsory and it is a criminal offence to drive without it. However, each week thousands of cars take to the country’s roads without insurance in place.

Everyone, bar a few exceptions, is entitled to compensation if they are injured due to the negligence of another driver. In most cases this compensation is paid by the insurers of the negligent driver. However, if the driver has no insurance in place, who will meet the claim for compensation?     

What if the driver is not insured, but someone else is? 

In some situations, although a driver is uninsured, there may still be insurance in place to cover the vehicle. 

For example, if I own a car and I am insured to drive my car then my car is deemed to be insured. 

However, if my wife is not insured to drive it but she does so anyway and causes an accident, the law states that my insurers (who insure the car but not my wife) must meet any third party claims for compensation arising from my wife’s accident. 

Therefore even if a driver is not insured to drive a car, provided there is an insurance company which insures somebody to drive the car, then most innocent victims will be able to recover compensation from that insurer.      

But what if nobody is insured to drive the car?  

Unfortunately for the law abiding road user, there are thousands of vehicles on the road today which are not covered to any extent by a policy of insurance.  Who will meet your claim for compensation if you are hit by a wholly uninsured vehicle?

In such situations there is a central fund administered by the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) which is responsible for paying compensation to those injured at the hands of uninsured drivers. 

Therefore, even if a vehicle is not insured, most innocent victims will be able to recover compensation from the MIB.    

What if I am a passenger and it turns out my driver was uninsured? 

In many accidents it is often the passengers of the negligent driver who need to advance claims for compensation. In most cases, these claims are directed to the insurers of the driver. However what happens if it turns out your driver was not insured? 

Provided the vehicle was insured then passengers can direct their claims to the insurers of the vehicle. 

If there is no insurance at all to cover the car then those passengers can direct their claims to the MIB who, in most cases, will pay the compensation. 

Are there any exceptions to claiming compensation if there is no insurance?

In very basic terms, if you were the passenger in an uninsured car or a stolen car and knew prior to the accident that the car was uninsured or stolen then in all likelihood you will be unable to recover any compensation. 

So what do I do if I am injured by an uninsured driver?

In many cases, you may not know until much later that the negligent driver was uninsured.  However, obtaining a registration number at the scene of an accident will greatly assist your ability to correctly direct your claim to those who will pay you compensation. 

If it does transpire that the driver was uninsured, for the vast majority of people compensation will still be paid. 

However, the route to getting that compensation can be fraught with difficulty and procedural hurdles. Therefore, specialist legal advice is highly recommended.