There is no excuse for driving uninsured

25th April 2016

  • British motorists think they can talk their way out of being prosecuted for driving uninsured
  • Nearly three quarters of retired traffic police say, in an emergency situation, the decision to penalise is at the officer’s discretion
  • A third of former police officers flag the issue of international drivers not understanding UK regulations

New research from Churchill Car Insurance1 reveals that motorists think they can talk their way out of being prosecuted by the police for driving uninsured. Research amongst recently retired traffic officers indicates that many drivers believe they can get away with not having cover by providing an excuse, but the police have heard it all.

Motorists offer all manner of outrageous excuses for not having insurance when pulled over, from “the car drives perfectly well without it” to "it was my husband’s car. He is dead but he is still insured." One motorist was driving a Lamborghini and claimed they were covered on a third party extension of their insurance policy for a Nissan Micra, which when investigated was shown to be wholly insufficient.

Police report the top three reasons drivers do not have insurance are, firstly not knowing that they were uninsured (38%) and secondly that they had poor administrative capabilities when it came to renewing their policy (33%). In more than one in eight (13%) cases, police officers state they believed the driver had deliberately driven without insurance, attributing the offence purely to criminal behaviour.

A quarter (25 per cent) of former traffic officers reported a problem with international drivers not understanding UK insurance laws, such as not knowing that the driver has to be named on the insurance policy. The respondents highlighted that drivers from Eastern Europe often believe that it is the car that is insured not the person.

Almost three quarters (72 per cent) of the former traffic police officers said, in an emergency situation, the decision to penalise is at the traffic officer’s discretion. Over a third (36 per cent) identified ‘a partner giving birth’ as a situation where they would not penalise a driver for being behind the wheel uninsured.

Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Churchill, commented: "Whilst some of the excuses given for uninsured driving might raise a smile, it’s a serious offence that can often hit the pockets of motorists who comply with the law. If someone is prepared to run the risk of being caught driving uninsured, then it makes you wonder what other risks they’re prepared to take on the road. This is why we give our customers uninsured driver cover as standard".

Barrett continues: "Our research demonstrates the need for education about the risks of driving without insurance, particularly for tourists and international drivers. Many motorists claim ignorance as an excuse, but it is up to everyone getting behind the wheel to make sure they are protected as it is the driver’s responsibility to know the laws."

Churchill’s tips to make sure you stay covered:

  • Check to see what your cover does and doesn't include to make sure it’s right for you.
  • Poor administrative capabilities meant that many of the people stopped by the police were uninsured. You can avoid this by setting your policy up to auto-renew. This doesn’t mean that you’re locked in, you’ll still be sent a renewal letter around four weeks (depending on your provider) before your policy is due to renew with details of your new premium. And if you don’t wish to take it forward, you can cancel and go elsewhere. In this way you avoid the chance of being inadvertently uninsured and if you do wish to proceed with the new quote from your existing provider, you don’t need to take any further action.
  • Don’t assume that the insurance market from one country to another is the same. Always check the requirements for any country that you plan to drive in.

Notes to editors

  • 1 Research carried out by Churchill Car Insurance amongst 25 recently retired (since 2013) traffic police officers 18 January – 28 February 2016.`

For further information, please contact:

Antonia Green
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Tel: 0207 282 2967

Claire Foster
Churchill PR Manager
Tel: 01651831672 / 07525665504


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK’s leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200300 or visiting