In the UK it isn’t compulsory for a car driver to carry any ID or insurance documents. If stopped by the police, the driver has five days in which to ‘produce’ his details at the nearest police station. In the event of an accident drivers are meant to exchange details, but without seeing the paperwork it is difficult to know for definite if the other guy is insured or not. But now there is a way of checking if the car is insured even if you can’t check on the specific driver.
Motor Insurance Database (MID)
Over the past few years the UK insurance companies have worked together to cut down on uninsured drivers and insurance fraud. One of the aims was to stop people insuring the same car with two companies, staging an accident and then making two claims. To this end they started sharing details of insurance policies and built a common database – the Motor Insurance Database (MID).
The police are now the MID’s biggest customer, making over 3.8 million enquiries per month. The DVLA, with over 1 million enquiry transactions a month in support of their Electronic Vehicle Licensing operation, is the second largest user of the MID. The database is accessed when a car owner renews his road fund licence (road tax) online, as it checks both the MID and the MOT databases. The MID also helps the UK comply with the 4th EU Motor Insurance Directive, which requires that insurance details of all vehicles in member states can be easily accessed by a national information centre.
Members of the UK public can check to see if their car is insured, although they can’t see all the details stored in the database. Go to http://www.askmid.com and enter the vehicle registration number in the box provided and tick the box to say that you are the vehicle owner.
If the car is on the database it returns the message:
YES ABC123A is on the Motor Insurance Database today
If the car is not on the database it returns the message:
WARNING ABC23A is NOT on the Motor Insurance Database today
Note the word ‘today’ at the end. The database is not a completely foolproof way of checking as if you have just bought a new car, or changed insurers it may take some time for the information to reach the database.
In the event of an accident
Clearly to check the database you need access to the Internet, so it is easy to do from home or work, but not so easy to do out on the road.
In the event of an accident, take the full details of the other driver. As long as he has his driving licence and insurance paperwork with him you should be fairly safe just writing down the details. If he doesn’t have his paperwork, or says that he doesn’t, then write down all the details including the registration number and make of model of the car. Before leaving the scene of the accident, phone home, or a friend, or someone that you know will have access to the Internet and get them to enter the registration number into askmid.com.
If the answer comes back YES then you are probably OK. If it comes back WARNING then you ought to call the police and tell them that you have been involved in an accident with a person that you think may be an uninsured driver. If you have a camera or a camera phone with you, you should take photos of the damage to both cars, the registration number and the driver. If the situation is potentially volatile, do not do anything to put yourself or your passengers at risk.
If you run a classic or sports car hire company then you should amend your instructions so that in the event of an accident, the hirer should take the other driver’s details and then contact your office so that you can check the database yourself and then decide how to proceed.