Where is my insurance certificate?


It is reassuring to receive your insurance certificate for your vehicle in the post, but paper insurance certificates for motor insurance are on the way out.

Buying insurance has moved online so the next step is for the insurance company to provide your certificate online. That saves cost for the insurer, and hopefully they will share the benefit with you!

The insurance industry has been in discussion with the Government for years and finally on 30 March 2010 they got want they wanted. The full title is Amendment of the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Risks) Regulations 1972.

What this means is that if you agree to accept an electronic certificate that is all you will get. It is like booking a flight and turning up at the airport with a printed email. It is not a surprising development, but as the public know nothing about it you may get a surprise.

The insurance companies will be keen to cut their costs, and although the option is yours, make sure you do not miss the tick box or question when you sign up for a policy.

When you buy a policy it is registered on an electronic database, and so is your MOT certificate. It is just one further step towards the paperless society, or at least using only your own printer and paper. But electronic insurance certificates are going to be confusing for us all for a while.

Here is what the Government say at (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2010/em/uksiem_20101117_en.pdf)

“What is being done and why

The main change made by the order is to permit the delivery of an insurance certificate by electronic means. Current legislation does not expressly permit this. The order will allow a certificate to be issued as an email attachment or to be issued by means of giving to the insured access to it via a website. The insurer will be able to do this only where the insured person has agreed to electronic delivery. Whether issued as an email attachment or by giving access via a website, the certificate must under the new provisions be communicated to the insured no later than 4 days after its issue or renewal. This mirrors existing provisions for the delivery of a paper document certificate.

The order also makes changes as regards the surrender of a certificate where the policy has been cancelled by mutual consent or by virtue of any other provision in the policy (see paragraph 4.1 above). The order provides that, for certificates electronically communicated, the insured must either confirm to the insurer electronically (email) that the policy has ceased to have effect or deliver to the insurer a legible printed copy of the certificate endorsed with a signed statement confirming that the policy has ceased to have effect. For other certificates, a person will be able either to confirm electronically (email) to the insurer that the policy has ceased to have effect or to return the certificate to the insurer (as already provided for in the provisions in force prior to the amendments by this order).

Where a person’s certificate which was not communicated electronically has been lost or destroyed, the regulations will allow a person to declare to the insurer electronically (by email) that it has been lost or destroyed as an alternative to the existing requirement of having to make a statutory declaration. (A statutory declaration is by virtue of section 5 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Interpretation Act 1978 “a declaration made by virtue of the Statutory Declarations Act 1835”. Sections 18 and 20 in particular of that 1835 Act make provision as to the persons before whom, and the form in which, a statutory declaration is to be made). This is intended to ensure that the procedures and consumer choice in respect of certificates of insurance, whether or not communicated electronically, are equivalent.

In cases where the insured applies to pay for a vehicle excise licence (tax disc) at the Post Office, the amendment to the regulations will allow the insured to produce a legible printed copy of the electronic certificate as evidence of insurance. The regulations will not permit the insurance to be evidenced to the Post Office by showing the certificate in any other format (for example via access to the web).

If the police ask for evidence of insurance, the regulations will allow the insured to show a certificate accessed via a website, or to show the email attachment if that was how the certificate was sent to him, or to produce a legible printed copy of the certificate. The officer must of course be satisfied (as with production of paper certificates) that he is indeed seeing the insured’s certificate if he is shown it on the web or as an email attachment.”

In July 2010 it was reported that Tte British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), who, along with a number of major insurers, took part in the discussions with the Department for Transport, adds that the move is environmentally friendly, saving 2,280 tonnes of carbon dioxide and up to 9,750 trees annually that would normally be used to create paper insurance certificates.