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likesbikes

Joined:

May 05

Posts: 21

likesbikes says:

Driving with no insurance - Help needed

Hi gang, run into a problem this evening and hoping for some advice.

Passed a Police car going the other way earlier, two minutes later it was behind me and pulled me over. My car had flagged up on their ANPR as not insured. I was not unduly concerned at this point as I could remember changing my insurance on the regular date of Jan 7th. Whilst the people on the other end of the officers phone were liasing with Hastings Direct, I told them how I distinctly remembered them asking for a 'proof of no-claims discount' and how i had signed a declaration form with my previous insurers details and posted it back to them. This is where alarm bells started to ring.

It seems that they (The insurers) cancelled the policy on February 5th as apparently this never reached them or never got to the right department. After initially returning the dclaration I heard no more and as a result thought no more about it.

I would like to state that at no point have I received any notification that this had happened. I spoke with my (former) insurers once I got home. The lady on the phone said that their records showed a letter was sent on January 29th giving me 7 days notice of cancellation if they never heard from me, another on February 5th advising me that it had been cancelled and a refund to my bank account. As I said above, I received neither of these letters. However I checked my online banking and a refund was paid into my bank on February 24th which was 20 days after the cancellation, I admit that I missed this at the time and have no excuse for that.

Having gone through all my policy paperwork, it has a form stating my preferred methods of contact. It clearly states I can be contacted by letter, e-mail, telephone or SMS. I was told of the cancellation by none of these methods.

Also in the policy documents it states that the proof of no claims is required 'for their records'. Nowhere does it state that cover is issued subject to this being provided and may otherwise be cancelled.

Back to this evening, my car has been impounded at a cost of £20 per day plus a £150 release fee. This is obviously on top of the £200+6 points fixed penalty. The officers, about whom I have to say I have no complaints or argument with, were very sympathetic however their hands were tied as no insurance is a very black and white affair at the scene.

Has anybody had experience of anything like this, and what action I could possibly take? Also am I better off taking a gamble on going to court to explain the circumstances or will it make things worse? Do I have a case against the insurers and would it help clear my name?

Any help or advice would be extremely well received, many thanks in advance.

Cheers, Darren.


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  • Posted 5 years ago (15 April 2010 00:04)

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stevei0220

Joined:

Feb 10

Posts: 118

stevei0220 says:

Darren

The scenario you describe is not untypical and could be described as a "technical" offence. In the first instance I think you need to be asking yourself this:

Can you prove that you neither knew nor had reason to believe that there was not in force in relation to the vehicle such a policy of insurance at the time you were stopped?

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 (sect 143) the onus is on you is to prove that you were insured at the time rather than for the prosecution to prove that you weren't.

If you are able to say that you have never received the letters sent out by Hastings Direct then I would suggest that you have a point to argue as a lawful defence but equally you need to be able to provide some form of evidence that you complied with the requirements to send in that proof of "no claims".

I have just had a look through the various pages on their website,the online copy of their car insurance policy and their terms and conditions and cannot find it written anywhere that you are obliged to provide written evidence to them of you previous "no claims". The only thing I can find relating to "no claims" is under the " Acceptance Criteria" but again that does not refer to any written proof or the need to submit it upon request. That said there are sometimes differences, for whatever reason I don't really know, between policies obtain via the phone and the internet and without physically seeing your paperwork it is hard to make judgement. You have obviously looked through what documentation you have so go to the Hastings website and see how things differ.

How did you pay for your insurance? Was it in one lump sum or in installments? If it was by monthly installments have any further payments been taken since that date of cancellation? If they have then there is again a potential to argue that you have been paying for a service and without having knowledge of your poicly being cancelled you have assumed that you were insured.

From what you write it sounds as if you were given a fixed penalty notice at the time. If you are going to argue the matter using the defence laid out in Sect 143(3) then you have the legal right to take the matter to court and do not have to pay the £200 or submit your licence for endorsement. If you surrendered your licence at the scene don't panic as the FPN acts as your licence in the mean time... so don't lose the ticket!

With regards to your car being seized the only way to get this back is to basically get yourself insured again ASAP and get it out of the pound. There is nothing that you can do other than pay this fee, it is not a fine but a statutory payment for the recovery and storage of your vehicle, but do keep all receipts and documentation regarding this as there is potential for claiming this back IF you challenge the no insurance matter in court and get found not guilty.

I think you need to look very carefully as to what has gone on and I would suggest you take full legal advice if you are going to challenge this matter in court. Even if you ask the matter to go to court but enter a guilty plea on the day you will atleast be in a position to submit any mitigation you may feel appropriate. Just be prepared that any fine you receive upon conviction is likely to be more than the £200 FPN as there will be costs incurred etc.

Let us know what you think... good luck!

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likesbikes

Joined:

May 05

Posts: 21

likesbikes says:

Thanks for your reply

Well Hastings erang me today, now they're saying they did received the declaration but couldn't get the details from the previous insurer (Equity red Star)as they had "No record of me, my car or address" and that "Some of the details must be wrong".

I checked the certificate and schedule from the previous year and my name, registration, address, d.o.b. and occupation were all present and correct. I told them this and she said that there 'd obviously been some mistake, they may have "rang the broker rather than the underwriter", as if this would make much difference. Incidentally I attached a copy of this certificate to the declaration when I sent it.

Today whilst getting quotes in a high street brokers the man who was dealing with me got the full details from Equity over the phone in a couple of minutes after giving just my name and postcode!

After reading about Hastings fine last year, I recall that their quote was significantly lower than the next best. Mysterious.

All this has been passed onto the Insurance Ombudsman who are looking very closely at my complaint. I'm hoping for some success there to use in mitigation in court. Spoke to a solicitor on the phone today, they're calling me back tomorrow hopefully after checking some things.

Many Thanks 

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stevei0220

Joined:

Feb 10

Posts: 118

stevei0220 says:

Good to hear...

the news and that Hastings have admitted that they are at fault and that you have taken legal advice. Wait until yo hear back from them and then get things put in place to get that FPN cancelled i.e get a written confirmation letter from Hastings saying that they had cancelled the policy in error and that you would have been covered with the minimum of third party liability.

Let us know the outcome

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likesbikes

Joined:

May 05

Posts: 21

likesbikes says:

Finally feeling positive

Is this enough though? I wonder if the offer of calling off the Ombudsman would convince them, especially as this other broker got the no claims details easily with very little detail. Got a couple of numbers for these specialist 'motoring offence' solicitors out of the back of MCN, will contact them and find out if I have enough to ask for this letter and exactly how I should word this request.

Many many thanks, owe you a pint or ten

 

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likesbikes

Joined:

May 05

Posts: 21

likesbikes says:

Heard elsewhere..

...on another forum someone said:

"Isn't it the case that if you physically hold the Insurance Certificate then the insurance company can't deny 3rd party liability - hence you technically (and therefore legally) do have insurance cover?

That's why it's a specific offence not to return the Certificate on demand"

 

Is this right, if so then I am covered as I have never been asked to return it. Presumably they'd have taken further action by now if I'd failed to respond to a request to return it?

 

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likesbikes

Joined:

May 05

Posts: 21

likesbikes says:

A disappointing update

This morning I spoke to a solicitor who specialises in motoring offences. He said that this is an 'absolute' offence (either insured or not insured with nothing in between)  so there can be no plea other than guilty as I had no insurance at the time of the incident. However he went on to say that on the basis of the details discussed I have a very good case for mitigation. He said that at the hearing he would ask for an adjournment due to special mitigating circumstances. I told him of the previous fine given to Hastings direct and the exceptionally low premium on my policy, he said that was good for us as it gives them a dubious history and "adds a little spice" to our case. He said he would likely expect a conviction with zero points awarded, possibly the fine would stand as in his experience magistrates don’t generally drop the fine.
He said that as someone in full time employment with a reasonable income, several years history of continuous insurance and someone who drives for a living I do not fit the profile of people normally associated with this offence which obviously can only be a good thing. He said more, but I'm trying to keep it brief. Please ask if you're wondering about anything?

Also spoke to the cancellation people at Hastings this morning, the guy on the phone said that he wasn’t suggesting that I had received the letters and they would be willing to write a letter stating that the insurance was cancelled through no fault of my own. I find this something of a contradiction bearing in mind the repeated statements of “The letters were definitely sent because the computer said so” and my alleged repeated failure to respond. I asked did they not think it was odd that a long insured (on both cars and bikes) married father of two suddenly decided at the age of 34 that he was no longer bothered about insurance and would it be an idea to try to reach this customer by telephone? The response was basically “Our normal procedure is contact by post”.

Continued on next post...

[This Reply has been modified by the Author]

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likesbikes

Joined:

May 05

Posts: 21

likesbikes says:

...continued from above


After this I was passed onto the complaints department. I inquired about how they initially claimed not to receive my no claims declaration/previous insurer details then suddenly they knew about Equity Red Star who the previous policy was with. The lady said that this was from my initial internet application, possibly I misunderstood this the first time but this seems to have chopped and changed a bit. I then inquired about the talk of “mistakes” and apologies during my first conversation with the cancellations people, she said that this meant mistakes were made by someone but not them, either myself or Equity Red Star apparently.
She went on to explain that Equity Red Star could find no trace of me on the 12th of January when they enquired? I asked how was it that over 3 months later on the 15th of April a old fashioned high street broker in Swindon got all the required details over the phone from Equity in only a few minutes with just a name and address? She said she didn’t know and that I must have given the wrong details in my initial application, which is where the details would have been taken from. However the details on the Equity certificate match those on the Hastings one along with all my other official documents perfectly, I pointed this out and the response was basically “I don’t know, they couldn’t provide them at the time“. Asked why I wasn’t contacted by ’phone at this point (Because lets be honest, they might’ve got themselves a higher premium) and she told me the procedure was contact by letter and it would be unfair to have phoned me as they do not phone other customers, I think she was basically asking why I thought I was special. I enquired as to why the other methods of contact were listed if their procedures were for contact to only be made by letter? After much waffle I received no answer to this.
I asked if their policy was to make merely enough effort to satisfy their procedures and “to hell with the little man”? She stressed that this was not the case. Throughout this conversation I brought up the fact I was going to find myself with a criminal record due to them going no further than their normal procedure and the response was of consistent disinterest. Throughout the conversation I made much mention of the Ombudsman already being involved and hinted at legal action in the future, she implied that the fault lied with Equity Red Star. I asked if she thought that in that case, should I decide to take legal action should I take it against Equity if anyone and her reply implied this was the best idea!
At the end of the conversation I got the standard pre-programmed ‘Thank you for your input and suggestions, we take them on board and will consider them at any future reviews of our procedures”. I merely thanked her for her time and said that I wasn’t getting at her personally.

Continued on next post...

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likesbikes

Joined:

May 05

Posts: 21

likesbikes says:

...continued from above (last one)

During both conversations with Hastings today I suggested the ‘cancelled by mistake/would’ve covered this gentleman for third party liability in view of the circumstances’ letter. Needless to say my doubts were correct, this would not be forthcoming. I am however looking forward to receiving the letter offered stating that the policy was cancelled through no fault of my own. I am sure it would help with my appearance in front of the magistrate and during future insurance applications, however somehow I suspect I’m going to be disappointed.

So much for trying to keep it brief, apologies for going on a bit.

It has just occurred to me that If I indeed receive their offered letter stating the cancellation was through no fault of my own, that would basically say that I couldn't have responded to these letters (as that is what the policy was effectively cancelled for) as I knew nothing of them? With that in mind, would this also count as a statement that I had no knowledge of the insurance being cancelled at any point thus making me as innocent as possible in this 'absolute offence'? Could this possibly lead to the case being thrown out?

Thanks again, Darren

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jdavies123

Joined:

Mar 04

Posts: 160

jdavies123 says:

insurance

Hi Darren,

As your solicitor suggests, this is indeed an absolute offence. You were cleary driving without insurance whether it was your fault or not. There is no grey area. The only answer is mitigation through the courts.

Kind Regards,

Jack

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SlowLearner

Joined:

Feb 10

Posts: 1953

SlowLearner says:

Sorry mate.

As ever, the law comes down disproportionally hard on people who try their honest best to be decent and law abiding.  This would not matter to some scrote with a long history of offences, who more than likely would claim they had no job, money etc., and get a small fine to be paid back at £2.00 per week.


As you say, the idea that a married father with a clean record suddenly would decide he couldn't care about the law any more is ludicrous.   And as ever, the police are only interested in feeling collars, boosting their rates and pretending that they are making the streets safer for us all, instead of catching real criminals.

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