ALL vans must now have continuous insurance – or be declared off-road under the Continuous Insurance Enforcement law, which became live on 20 June 2011.
The law applies to you whether you are a sole trader with a single van, or if you are an SME with operating a fleet of company vans. It will now be an offence to be the keeper of an uninsured vehicle, rather than just to drive when uninsured.
It is up to the registered keeper of the vehicle to let the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) know that the car is off-road by filling in a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN).
Ashton West, chief executive at the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, said:
“The change in law is a stepping up of enforcement activity, so that not only those vehicles driven without insurance will be caught. Now the registered keeper must make sure that their vehicle is insured all the time.
“Around four percent of vehicles have no motor insurance at any given time, and this needs to change so that is why this new enforcement approach is so important.”
Under the new Continuous Insurance Enforcement law system:
- The DVLA will work in partnership with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to identify uninsured vehicles.
- The registered keeper will receive a letter telling them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured and warning them that they will be fined unless they take action.
- If the keeper fails to insure the van they will be given a £100 fine.
- If the van remains uninsured – regardless of whether the fine is paid – further action will be taken. If the van is on public land it could then be clamped, seized and destroyed. Alternatively court action could be taken, with the offender facing a fine of up to £1,000.
- Seized vehicles would only be released when the keeper provided evidence that the registered keeper is no longer committing an offence of having no insurance and the person proposing to drive the vehicle away is insured to do so.
- Vans with a valid Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) will not be required to be insured.
The new law will run alongside the existing offence of using a vehicle with no insurance, which is enforced by the police. The police seized 180,000 vehicles each year for this offence, and offenders also face a £200 fixed penalty or a court fine of up to £5,000 and possible disqualification.
The DVLA’s records will be compared regularly with the Motor Insurance Database (MID) and this process will identify registered keepers of vehicles that appear to have no insurance. All drivers can check their vehicle is recorded on the MID for free by visiting www.askMID.com.
What actions should a small businesses with a fleet policy take?
The MID advises the following. All vans insured on a fleet policy or a motor trade policy (including all trade plates owned by you) should be added to the MID, unless they are not designed for road use. This includes:
- All permanent vehicles (i.e. vehicles registered to, owned by, or leased to you) including long-term hire vehicles
- Temporary vehicles such as courtesy or short term hire vehicles
In addition, MID recommends that all vehicle records that have road cover included are sent to the MID regardless of the period of cover in order to minimise the risk of being stopped by the police and a possible vehicle seizure.
What details should a business van operator provide to the MID?
The information that you are legally obliged to provide for each van is as follows:
- Policy number
- Vehicle Registration Mark
- The date on which the vehicle was first insured on the policy (probably either the start date of the policy or the date the vehicle was acquired, if later)
- The date on which the vehicle ceased to be covered on the policy (which might be the day on which the vehicle was sold, or the date declared under a SORN to the DVLA).
The MIB has a useful pdf download with advice for van fleet operators and compliance with the new Continuous Insurance Enforcement law. You can download it from the MIB here: Compliance with the Motor Insurers’ Database – fleet vehicles.