As if being involved in a car accident wasn’t horrible enough, hearing the dreaded words, ‘I’m not insured’ takes things from bad to worse. Despite the fact that it’s illegal to drive on public roads without it, it’s estimated that there are around one million motorists in Britain who don’t have insurance. If you’re unlucky enough to be hit be one of these irresponsible drivers, getting compensation can be an especially complicated process.
Here’s some advice on what to do if your car is hit by an uninsured driver.
At the scene of the accident
There’s no need to call the police to the scene of the accident unless someone’s been injured, third-party property has been damaged, the accident has caused an obstruction, or in the unlikely event that the other driver has fled the scene (which, of course, is also illegal).
Uninsured drivers are naturally harder to trace – that means that if you rely solely on the information that the person who crashed into you gives you and it turns out to be false, you might well never be able to track them down. For this reason, it’s vital to not only take down the personal details they provide, but also the make, model and registration number of the car they’re driving.
Also make a note of any damage caused to either car and get the contact details of any witnesses. If you have a camera phones, put it to good use and take lots of pictures of the scene of the crash – and try and get the other driver in a few shots of you can!
After the accident
Much depends upon the laws in your state. If you’re in a state with traditional tort (civil wrong) insurance laws, the insurance of whoever was at fault is supposed to pay. If you were at fault, your insurance will pay. If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, chances are he or she also doesn’t have a lot of assets. A lawyer can help, but you may not be able to recover damages even if you win a lawsuit.
There is a way to protect yourself from having to bear all the costs if you’re hit by an uninsured motorist. You can pay extra to add uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage to your policy.
If your state has no-fault laws, each driver or his insurance pays for that driver’s and his passengers’ injuries or damages, no matter who is at fault. There’s a catch, though: No-fault laws restrict your ability to sue. The bottom line is this, though: You’re covered, and it doesn’t matter whether the other driver was insured – unless you suffer really major injuries. Most no-fault states allow you to sue the other driver for severe damages. If you have added uninsured motorist coverage to your policy, that should help get more money from your own insurer, even if suing the uninsured at-fault motorist doesn’t bring you financial relief.
If you live in UK you should consider doing the following:
If the police weren’t called to the scene of the accident and you plan to pursue legal action with the uninsured driver, you’ll need to report the accident to them within five days. If you have fully comprehensive cover, you can then claim via your own insurer if you wish. Bear in mind, though, that it’s possible that this will affect your no claims bonus. However, if you’re only covered for third party, fire and theft, you’ll instead have to submit a claim via the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB).
The MIB is an organisation funded by all UK motor insurers that exists to compensate victims of uninsured or untraceable motorists. Any claim must be submitted to them within three years of the date of the accident if you have confirmed contact details for the driver, or within nine months if the driver is untraceable.
The MIB will investigate the accident to establish who was at fault, but don’t expect a huge pay out… Any claim made through the MIB is reduced by £300, and they may refuse to pay or reduce the compensation if they feel you were partially or wholly to blame, or if the accident occurred on a private road or car park.
What If Your Car Is Damaged?
It may be the unfortunate case that your car was damaged in the process. However there are still a few options out there. For example there are car buyers (UK) out there that can give you a fair valuation for your car. Otherwise it could be an expensive trip to a mechanic.