It is sadly an open secret that the UK has the highest level (per capita) of uninsured drivers on our roads. The costs are borne largely by those of us abiding by the law and paying sky high insurance premiums. It is a case of the innocent paying the costs of the guilty.
This situation has over the years got worse as the structure of the motor insurance market in the UK has been a vicious self fulfilling prophecy. The country’s membership of the EU and inter alia the free movement of peoples has served to make this situation worse.
Today we have a situation in the UK where a significant proportion of the cars on our roads are driven without insurance, without tax and without MOT certificates. Many British Gazette readers will know that the police are equipped with automatic number recognition (ANR) cameras in their motorway patrol cars. If one is behind you your car’s number plate will be scanned automatically and if your insurance, tax or MOT are not in order, this will be flashed up and the officers will pull you over “to have a little chat.”
This technology fails however to detect most lawbreakers as these drivers (for the most part young men) are driving left hand drive cars with Polish or other east European registrations. These number plates are incapable of being read by the ANR and as a result such drivers escape detection unless their driving causes the officers to pull them over.
The reasons why these young men break the law in this manner are obvious when one discovers that for a young man in his early to mid twenties, especially living ain a high crime area, motor insurance for the smallest and most humblest of cars runs into thousands of pounds.
Faced with this – making legal motoring unaffordable to them, many young working class lads decide to go down the route of driving a “left hooker” slang for a left hand drive vehicle. They purchase one. If purchasing a foreign registered car they simply go ahead and drive it without registering it with the DVLA. If registered in the UK it will be deregistered as being scrapped or exported and a set of foreign plates will be acquired for it. In the case of diesel engine cars, motoring costs can be reduced still further by the use of untaxed “red” diesel in place of DERV.
The UK market for motor insurance is in fact a contrived and false market. Insurance quotes obtained for the above vehicle demonstrate this. This vehicle has been chosen for a reason. I noticed it and considered purchasing it as a second vehicle. It is a 1999 V Reg. Hyundai Sonata 2.4 litre V6 Automatic. With only 43,000 miles on the clock and a book price of between £600 and £800 it is an inexpensive little car. The first order of business however was to see how much the insurance would be on the vehicle.
Now, I am 55 year old fellow with no claims in the past three years and no convictions in the past five, and as it would be a second car there is no NCD to carry over and I live in the LS8 postcode area which unfortunately for me is not a good area for insuring a car. Two quotes I received are of interest:
One was for £678 for a year – fully comprehensive. Another was for £1,905 for a year – fully comprehensive. The insurers? For the £678 policy: Aviva. For the £1,905 policy: err, Aviva.
Yes, two widely differing quotes for the same vehicle and the same driver from the same company!
When questioned about this, the sales person explained that the various insurance companies offered special schemes for certain brokers and intermediaries. It was a case of “swings and roundabouts” they said. “Some people find us cheaper and others expensive. Others, such as yourself, find us expensive and others cheaper.”
Our dearly beloved Business Secretary, Saint Vince of the Blessed Cable, would describe this as a “free market” – we think it is better described as a “rigged market.”
What we need is a reform of the laws, regulations and taxes relating to motoring. At the moment these are regressive. The poorest in our society pay far more in terms of their disposable income for such as car insurance, car tax and road fuel duty than do the very rich. For a man on the national average wage commuting to work is a very significant drain on his income. For the multi-millionaire banker with his bonus it is a mere trifle.
What should be done about it?
How about this: Remove the compulsion to have car insurance and provide third party insurance for all accidents in the UK – this to be provided by an additional duty of road fuels. This of course would increase the price of fuel still further. It would however result in a truly free market for car insurance for none would be compelled to obtain it. Such motor insurance would of course be free of the third party element and as a consequence cheaper for those who wanted it. Given that it would be a cost on fuel, the owners of larger engine and generally expensive cars such as Range Rovers and Rolls Royces would pay more than the less wealthy owners of small engine and cheaper cars would pay a lot less.
The same could of course be done for Vehicle Excise Duty. Again, those who use the roads, pay. Those who don’t, don’t.