The Motor Insurance Database (MID) was set up as a joint project by the UK insurance industry mainly to help combat uninsured driving, which is a major problem in Britain. The database is now accessed millions of times every month by police forces, who use it to check up on whether or not individual cars are insured.
It is not commonly realised, but anyone driving an uninsured vehicle, whether by accident or design, could face not only substantial fines and penalty points, possibly leading to disqualification from driving, but also the likelihood of having the vehicle confiscated by the police on the spot. The car is then taken to an approved pound for a week or so and then if it is not reclaimed it is scrapped or, in a minority of cases, sent for auction. The usual reason that this comes about is because the vehicle's registration details have been checked against the MID, either automatically by cameras which read numberplates or by a police officer making a specific enquiry. If the vehicle is shown by the database as having no current insurance it is up to the driver to prove that this is not the case; very often this can be extremely difficult if someone is pulled up many miles from home and mistakes do occur.
One unfortunate reason why mistakes happen is because although insurance has been taken out, this has happened fairly recently and the database simply has not had sufficient time for this data to become available. This is partly because there is often an unavoidable delay of up to 48 hours between an insurer issuing a policy and updating the database, but there is also often a further delay before these details are processed by the system.
There is therefore an excellent case to put forward for carrying insurance documents in a car for several days after a new policy has been purchased, although it has to be admitted that this can be difficult if they are in the post at the time. If this is the case the driver should be able to inform the police officer concerned of all the details including the date at which the insurance was ordered, and the company it was ordered from. If you have any doubts at all you can check the MID database details about your car yourself here.
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