Most drivers caught without insurance think they can talk their way out of being fined or given points on their licence - according to a new survey of retired police officers. The bad news for them is that traffic officers have heard it all before from other motorists, so your excuse will fall on deaf ears - even if you come up with something really bizarre.
The study, by Churchill Insurance, found that the most common reasons people gave for driving uninsured was being unaware that they didn't have insurance. Almost two thirds of drivers made this claim, although the retired officers in the study highlighted that ignorance is no defence, so they would still be penalised.
The second most common excuse was disorganisation - as drivers had failed to keep track of when the renewal was due. This was mentioned by a third of people. Unfortunately for them, this is not a good enough reason for driving without insurance, so they won't get away with it either.
The study also stumbled across some particularly odd excuses. One driver, for example, argued that "The car drives perfectly well without it", so they didn't feel the need to spend a fortune on cover. Another explained that it was her husband's car. She added: "He's dead, but he is still insured." One of the oddest situations was the Lamborghini driver who thought he could get away with buying cover for a Nissan Micra and driving the Lamborghini under his third party cover to drive any other car.
However, that's going to be tricky to effectively fake if you are caught without insurance.
What can you do?
It's vital, therefore, to make sure you don't fall into the trap of accidental uninsurance. There are three steps we should all take.
1) Whenever you buy cover, make a note in your diary two weeks before you are due to renew - to give yourself time to shop around.
Alternatively, you can set up your policy to auto-renew, which means your insurer will send you a letter with a quote, and if you don't call to cancel, they will automatically renew.
This is a reasonable idea if you take the letter as a nudge to shop around, and work on the assumption you should be able to find cheaper cover elsewhere. However, it's essential not to use this as an excuse to simply renew with the same insurer every year - as insurers save their best deals for new customers.
2) You should also read the small print, so you know what you are covered for. Some people think their policy will automatically give them third party cover to drive any other car, but you need to check whether there are limitations, and whether you need to activate this part of the cover.
3) Check the rules whenever you make a change. If, for example you start parking somewhere different overnight, you use your car to commute for a month or two, you drive overseas during the summer, or you make a modification to the car, you need to check whether you are still covered.