Interviewed on Live 95FM on December 20, Professor Friel discussed the latest press release from the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland which claimed that there were over 100,000 uninsured motorists on Irish roads.
Friel noted that there was a significant upward trajectory to uninsured drivers noting that the level of claims had risen by 17% since last year. In comparison to the UK rate of uninsured drivers of 4.5%, the percentage of uninsured drivers was nearly double that in Ireland at just under 8%.
Friel explained there were two basic reasons for this: first, although there were significant sanctions for driving without insurance, the level of enforcement was limited due to a variety of reasons, not least of which has been the government’s inability to pass the required legislation to give effect to existing Garda technology, number plate recognition. But second, and perhaps far more importantly, research from the US where the uninsured rate stands at 12% demonstrates that neither enforcement nor sanction played a significant role in reducing the incidence of uninsured drivers. In fact the major determinant was economics: high cost of insurance resulted in higher levels of uninsured driving. As income is squeezed and premiums rise, motor insurance is often sacrificed over rent, heating etc. This set up a cycle of declining customer base resulting in even higher premiums causing the customer base to decline even further and so on, a pattern replicated in private health insurance.
Friel noted however that victims of uninsured drivers, or unidentified drivers (hit and run scenarios) could benefit from the MIBI scheme funded by insurance companies (which essentially adds an average around €34 to each motor insurance policy) to claim for any personal or property damage. He noted however that if you have a comprehensive insurance policy you have to claim from this policy for damage to your car but it should not affect your No Claims Bonus. He also noted that you have two days to file a report with An Garda Siochana in the event of an accident involving an uninsured/unidentified driver, otherwise the MIBI may not accept your claim.