Information, Papers and Tutorials

People may of read the statistics that say 5% of people who drive on the road in this country are uninsured. This figure rises to neaerly 11% in the London area and near 20% for under 25s.

While the figures above are bad enough, we have another problem - people who lie to their insurance company to get insured. This generally includes not disclosing penalty points, not disclosing past accidents or even forging proof of no claims documents in the case of somebody I was reading about recently. None of this information is checked and the onus is on the person applying for insurance to tell the truth. If you have ever tried to deal with an insurance company to make a claim for anything, they will always try to avoid paying out and the first point of call for them is to check all information provided to make sure it is correct. If any detail is incorrect, even if it does not relate at all to the reason you are claiming for, they will reject the claim. With motor insurance, it gets a little more complicated as a third party (eg a driver you may hit) is able to make a claim on your insurance for damage caused. Even these claims may end up being rejected meaning the third party has to claim from the uninsured drivers fund (covered by the £30+ we all pay on insurance premiums).

Detecting falsely insured motorists isn't easy with the way everything works at the moment. A driver is able to get the lowest cost insurance by entering entirely false information if their intention was just not to be bothered by the police. These people would only get found out if a third party needed to make a claim as ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras only check if the driver is insured (obviously all they can do) and if a police officer stops a vehicle, unless they go through the entire insurance policy (very time consuming and something they would never do), they would not be able to fully check if that person is actually insured.

I think I have an answer to the problem that would stop this kind of thing overnight and at the same time, make it easier to search for insurance.

The first step is to standardise the system of No Claims Discounts and how they are reduced when you have an accident. Currently, different insurance companies allow you to accumulate a different maximum number of no claims years. There is also a varying method of how many years your No Claims Discount gets reduced by between insurance companies. I personally think there should be no limit on the number of years you can accumulate and then each insurer can decide how they discount you. Once this is all standardised, the DVLA can take over storing it with the insurance companies updating it at the completion of a policy. What would also be good at this point would be the ability for insurance companies to make a note of a partial year on the system. Say you were 4 months through a policy and then cancelled because you got a new vehicle and insurance was much cheaper elsewhere so you had to cancel the policy. Normally you would of just lost this partial year but my idea would be for this to be stored on DVLA systems and then allow you to take a partial insurance policy (8 months for this example) so that at the end of the partial policy, you would add an extra year to your no claims and not of lost anything.

Also, the DVLA would need to take control of the storage of accidents. As currently, these should be stored for 5 years or the information only distributed to insurance companies for 5 years at least.

Assuming the above was implemented, combined with the information already stored on us there (name, address, motoring convictions, etc), the DVLA would now store all information an insurance company would require to provide us with an insurance quote and then an insurance policy. Currently, each time we want an insurance quote, even if we go through price comparison sites, we have to enter all our information. The new way, even if you go through a price comparison site, would be simple. You would just enter your driving licence number and the registration of the vehicle you wish to insure. For additional drivers, you would also have to enter their driving licence number so their information could be pulled. Driver information and vehicle information could then be pulled from the DVLA in real time saving us having to manually enter this. All we would then have to choose are things like the type of policy we want and any voluntary excess we wish to add. The step of having to send in our proof of no claims document would then also be removed as this would be pulled from the DVLA.

Currently, the Motor Insurers' Bureau manage the Motor Insurance Database. This is the record of all insurance policies that ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras use to confirm if valid insurance is held. Police would directly check with the insurance company if they pulled you over, though, as this database is known for having a high percentage of errors although this has been improving over recent years. That said, I think again the DVLA should take over storing this information with the information on a policy getting pushed over to the DVLA as soon as it becomes active. There should be financial pentalties for insurance companies failing to keep a certain percentage of the information they submit accurate with this rising so nearer 100% after a few years of implementation. Assuming they design their systems correctly, there should be no reason why this is not possible. One advantage of the DVLA taking over this from the MIB is that they could ping back information to the insurance company when that motorist's information changes. On the routine side, they could move house and need only tell the DVLA with their insurance company automatically getting to know about it. On the negative side, it would mean that if you get a conviction on your licence, your insurance company would hear about it automatically so you can't get away with not telling them. They could then require you pay an additional charge or at least take it into account come the renewal date.

So the above would nearly completely solve the issue of false information to gain insurance with insurance fronting (putting somebody else other than the main driver as the main driver on the policy and the actual main driver as just a named driver) being just about the only problem not tackled but that isn't one that can't really be tackled by changing systems.

In addition to what I have said above, I would just like to mention a few little annoyances that could be dealt with at the same time. The first of these is the amount of wasted paper in generating insurance documents and the same paperwork each time you update your policy. I would like to see the option, ticked by default if doing it online or if you have given the company your email address, for insurance paperwork, including the certificate, to be emailed to you as a PDF. The DVLA begun accepting self printed paperwork a few years ago and the Post Office followed suit so there is no reason not to push this. Maybe encourage it by either charging a few pounds for physical paperwork or giving a discount to do it via email. Either would work.

The other annoyance I have is the way things work at the Post Office. As somebody who often spends time queuing at the post office to get franked Recorded and Special Delivery items scanned (another annoyance, but that is for another article...), the number of people who fail to come with all the right paperwork to tax their vehicle is amazing yet if you do it online, all you need is your reminder reference number and it pulls information about if you are insured, etc automatically. The Post Office should also be able to do this as it would also mean somebody could get instantly insured and then go to the Post Office to tax their car right away and it would show up. You should also be able to pay via credit card there paying the £2.50 charge just like you do online as currently they only allow it via debit card or in cash.

I am a technology enthusiast living up in Carlisle, Cumbria in the UK and am the managing director of Its Elixir which sells Henna Hair Care Products and Ear Candles, Craig Brass Systems which creates and custom develops quality software and LonsdaleNET which delivers high speed wireless and fibre optic broadband in Cumbria.