Nearly a fifth of motorists (18%) would not inform their insurer if they picked up penalty points, new research by RAC Insurance has found.
The research, conducted by the RAC opinion panel of motorists, potentially puts nearly seven million drivers at risk of holding invalid insurance, as well as future prosecution.
The data also shows that a quarter (25%) of motorists surveyed who already have penalty points did not inform any organisation when they received them.
The RAC says that whether they did this knowingly or unwittingly, it effectively means more than 700,000 motorists could now be driving without valid car insurance.
And with some employers demanding a full, clean licence, many people who drive as part of their job might be expected to declare any penalty points. However, the RAC research found only 13% of respondents would inform their employer if they received points in the future.
In 2014, The DVLA and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau launched a joint initiative, MyLicence, in an attempt to combat fraud.
MyLicence gives insurers access to the last five years of a motorist’s driving history, including points – if a motorist provides their driving licence number. However, the system is a voluntary one and not all insurers will insist on a driving licence number being provided.
The RAC says the implications of not declaring penalty points are serious, with motorists risking having a worthless insurance policy and hefty penalties from the police. In the event of an accident, they could be disqualified from driving.
Mark Godfrey, RAC Insurance director, said: “Our research points to one of two likely scenarios: either motorists are simply forgetting to inform the relevant authorities when they receive points, or they are intentionally not telling them in order to keep their insurance premium lower.
“In either case, the result is hundreds of thousands of drivers who are effectively uninsured by default.
“The end of the paper counterpart to the driving licence and the arrival of the MyLicence system means more insurers have access to a driver’s motoring endorsements. This is a positive step in cutting fraud and should help ensure motorists receive fairer premiums.
“While there is currently no requirement on motorists to provide their licence number when requesting a quote, this may well change in the future as insurers realise the benefits of taking endorsement data directly from the DVLA, rather than relying on a motorist’s word.
“In the meantime though, the message to motorists is clear – not declaring points is simply not worth the risk should you get caught or are involved in an accident.”