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Woman driving for 6 months without insurance has prosecution dismissed.

Updated: Dec 9, 2023


Driving without insurance ireland. Women drving for 6 months without insurance has prosecution dismissed

Motorist unaware insurance company had cancelled her policy.



A WOMAN WHO WAS unknowingly driving without insurance for more than 6 months had her prosecution for driving without insurance dismissed at Cork District Court.


Miss W. had taken out a policy of insurance with her insurance company on 13 September 2021. She submitted her no-claims bonus, which was accepted, and paid the policy in full, €553.86.


Though she would ordinarily use her work email, on this occasion she decided to use her Gmail account, an account she rarely used.


Ms W held pet insurance, annual holiday insurance,
annual car hire excess insurance,
home insurance, health insurance and car insurance.
“She describes herself as risk averse”

She was stopped at a routine Garda checkpoint on 13 April 2022 in Douglas, Cork. Miss W’s vehicle NCT had expired, and she received a fixed charge penalty notice, which she later paid.


Miss W. had no penalty points and no convictions at this time.


In June 2022 Miss W’s car broke down and she decided to temporarily change her insurance over to her brother’s car while her own car was being fixed.


She rang her insurance company to arrange this, and they informed her that they had cancelled her insurance in October 2021, six months earlier.


This was the first that she had become aware of this. She had received no phone call or letter notifying her of this.


There had never been a previous claim.
This was a mistake by her insurance company.


Her insurance company stated that they had notified her by email, to the email account that she rarely used.


When she checked she discovered a number of emails from her insurance company.

The first, from 12 October 2021, and headed with her address stated:


“We have reason to believe that a claim has been made in the past five years and appears not to have been disclosed on the proposal. Could you please forward to us in writing the nature of any claim and the reason for non-disclosure? Please note that this could be a windscreen claim…Please ensure that we receive the above documents before 12/10/21 as a failure to do so will result in a notice of cancellation being issued”.


There had never been a previous claim.


This was a mistake by her insurance company.


Another email dated 19 October, again bearing Miss W’s address, was headed:


“NOTIFICATION OF POLICY CANCELLATION.

Further to our previous correspondence you have not completed the actions outlined.

To the extent that we are required by the terms of the Road Traffic Act to give you at least ten days notice of cancellation, we hereby give you notice that all cover under the above policy will cease to operate with effect from midnight on 29/10/2021”.


Another email was sent on 29 October at 1:56pm notifying Miss W. that her insurance would be cancelled that night at 11:55pm.


One last email arrived on 9 December at 4:25pm inviting Miss W to enter a draw to be one of “12 lucky customers” who could win “12 months free car insurance”.


Miss W's policy had been cancelled for five weeks at this time.


She saw none of these emails.

____________






JUDGE JOANNE CARROLL heard evidence that Ms W had no previous convictions and was completely unknown to the Gardai.


Mr Horan told the court that Ms W held pet insurance, annual holiday insurance, annual car hire excess insurance, home insurance, health insurance and car insurance.



The insurance company refused to
speak to her directly,
communicating with her only by chat-box.


“She describes herself as risk averse” he said.


He told the court that she was a responsible member of the community and that her mental health had been very badly affected by the incident.


She described herself, he said, as someone who would never knowingly not have insurance while driving.


Through no fault of her own she now faced a conviction and disqualification from driving for two years because of her insurance company's mistake.


He was asking the court, given the extraordinary circumstances of the case to view the case in a particular way.


He told the court that a conviction would have "catastrophic consequences for her career". He said that she had always held insurance and was devastated to find out that her insurance had been cancelled and that she had not been written to about this.


Miss W held screenshots of the conversation she had had with a representative of the insurance company when she rang to complain.


The insurance company refused to speak to her directly, communicating with her only by chat-box.


When she asked to speak with a manager, she was told that “unfortunately managers don’t speak with customers directly”.


“In her job she needs to have Garda clearance, and this would be jeopardised if she were convicted” he said.


He told Judge Carroll that her voluntary evening class role teaching elderly people how to use computers would also be imperiled.


Judge Carroll agreed.


Taking into consideration Miss W’s previous good character, the fact that she had always held insurance and had paid her premium in full prior to having it cancelled, she dismissed the charge.

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