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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 70211
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I have been insured with Tesco Bank since June 2015 - I

Customer Question

I have been insured with Tesco Bank since June 2015 - I believe the underwriter is Aviva.
In January this year I changed my vehicle and sold that on which the existing policy was taken out, so shopped around for best prices. My current insurer ended up being the cheapest, so I completed an online, existing customer's change of vehicle details request. It was my understanding that the change would go through automatically, and as the premium continued to leave my account each month, I thought nothing more of it.
On 3rd April I was stopped by the police for having no insurance. I explained the situation to them and was able to show proof of payment being taken each month, but we were unable to contact the insurance company at the time as it was the early hours of the morning. The officers were called to another incident, so I was told that they would not be taking any further action at the time so I was able to leave. There was no mention of me producing any documents etc., or that anything further would need to be done.
The following day I called the insurance company and found that, in fact, the change had not been made to the policy, so it was updated with immediate effect.
Yesterday, 31st May, I received a letter from Gwent Police dated 25th May outlining an allegation of using a vehicle without third party insurance, along with a conditional offer of 6 points and a £300 fine.
I have 2 main questions -
1. As I had taken reasonable steps to change policy cover to my new vehicle, and continued to pay the monthly premium, should I have been covered for the date in question?
2. Are the police able to issue court proceedings for an offence having already said that no further action would be taken, and is it reasonable that it has taken almost 8 weeks for me to hear anything about it?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Just for clarity, you would not have been insured at that time?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It was my understanding that I was, having changed vehicle and completed a change of vehicle details request, but the police database showed no insurance
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Ok. But do the insurance company confirm you were not insured at that time?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They have said cover was continuous, but for the previous vehicle, despite me no longer being the owner or registered keeper
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

So were you insured to drive this vehicle at this time?

This should really be a simple yes or no answer. If they haven't been clear with you then call them back and demand a clear answer.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I spent 90 minutes on the phone to them this morning asking the same question!
They suggest that I never requested the change of vehicle - although I have proof that I was looking for quotes at the time of the vehicle change, my premium would have in fact been cheaper with the new vehicle, and so I had no reason not to - so cover was only in place for the previous vehicle.
They refuse to accept that the failure to change details may have been an error on their part
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Yes, but were you insured or not?

It really doesn't matter who is to blame at this stage.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
well that was my question to you.
Having taken steps to update the policy, and paying the premium every month, should cover have been in place.Tesco have stated that cover was in place for the previous vehicle, as the changes weren't made
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Well, it doesn't matter whether cover should have been in place or not.

The question is whether it was. Only Tescos can answer that question. It is simple enough for them. If you were insured then they can just produce an insurance certificate which you can show to the Crown and the matter will fall away.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Whether you should have been insured but were not would only be an issue if they confirm that you were not insured.

Then you could raise a special reasons hearing.

But Tesco need to be clear about whether or not you could drive this car on this day. There is no reason you shouldn't be told that in simple terms by them. It is their task to explain.

If they are refusing then complain to the Ombudsman as that is outrageous.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Tesco maintain cover was in place for the previous vehicle. I, having taken the necessary steps, believed it to be in place for the current vehicle.
The only certificate in existence is one for the previous vehicle, as the change wasn't made.Obviously if this was due to error on their part the outcome should be different to if I had just neglected to update the policy.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am taking it to mean that, had I been driving the previous vehicle, I would have been fully insured as the policy was still in effect. However as I was driving the current vehicle, it was void
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Then you weren't insured.

In which case it would have to be a guilty plea but you could argue that special reasons apply not to add points.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

But you might want to get them to be clear about that.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
could there be any assumption that, as I am now insured on the current vehicle with the same insurer and no additional premium was payable, had there been any incident the insurer would still have paid out, at least on a third party basis?and the second matter - should proceedings have gone ahead given that I was told nothing further would be done and I was not given a producer or asked to attend the police station?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Well, possibly but no insurance is an offence of strict liability so either you were insured or you were not. If you were they can give you an insurance certificate and the matter ends.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
but they may refuse a certificate, even though it was an error on their part?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

They can only do that if you are not insured.

It doesn't matter who is to blame. It is just a matter of whether or not you were actually insured. You may have been but they need to confirm or deny.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
their failure to complete a change can result in me being guilty of an offence? that doesn't seem rightand the second question?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Yes, they are free to summons to court.

There are time limits but they are six months from the offence so they are in time. They usually do use them to the maximum.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

But you would always have special reasons at your disposal.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok, it just strikes me as odd that they should be able to do that having said it would go no further. especially as they had not given the opportunity of producing proof of insurance had I had it.
what will I need to do in terms of special reasons?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

No, but you can always produce a certificate if one is available.

To argue special reasons you need to plead and then argue special reasons apply because it was the fault of your insurance company. You have the burden of proof though so would need to gather evidence.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what evidence would be sufficient
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

It could be anything

The obviously issue here is to get the insurance company to confirm that the issue was an administrative one.

Also, to produce evidence that you have always kept your vehicle insured hitherto.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the insurance company will not admit that the error was an administrative one - if they would this would be relatively straight forward
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

What do they say was the cause?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They havent said anything other tham that the change wasnt made
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

OK. Then they are saying you were uninsured.

Then you would have to plead.

You can always ask the Crown to consider the public interest of the prosecution.

Failing that it is special reasons. Seems to me that it doesn't really matter why the change wasn't made unless they are saying it was your fault.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can you explain what asking the crown to consider the public interest of the prosecution means
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Well, it could be a number of factors.

The reality is that it is very unlikely they will discontinue it but they could and so it is worth trying.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
but how do i do that. what does it involve
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

You just write a letter into CPS asking them to review the public interest of the case.

You can always quote the reference number given although they can marry up letters to cases fast enough when it suits them.

I'm happy to continue with this but please rate my answer.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what would the letter need to say
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

,

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what would the letter need to say