N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - Estafette

Around a year ago I loaned a car to a mate. He had assured me that he was covered to drive it under his insurance, but he had an accident (involving minimal damage to my car but the other vehicle being written off) and it turned out that he wasn't actually covered at all. Cue much stress for me at the time re the possible implications.

Anyway, long story short and without going into too many details, he got points for driving with no insurance but no action was taken against me as the police were satisfied I genuinely believed him to be insured. The other party attempted to bring a claim against my insurance, but they denied liability - due to the specific nature of the policy they were able to do this.

I've now had a letter from the other party's insurer who has paid out for their vehicle and is trying to recover their outlay directly from me. They are quoting Section 151 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. I've read said section and am struggling to see how they can apply it to me, but I'm no expert so thought it would be worth asking on here.

Subsection 1 of S.151 states that "This section applies where [...] a judgment to which this subsection applies is obtained." This would indicate to me that their claim under S.151 falls at the first hurdle, as no judgment of any kind has been obtained against me. It's possible though that the insurers are intending to try and obtain such a judgment.

Anyway, subsection 8 details the categories of people to which the section applies:

"Where an insurer becomes liable under this section to pay an amount in respect of a liability of a person who is not insured by a policy or whose liability is not covered by a security, he is entitled to recover the amount from that person [I don't see how this can apply to me - surely the "liability of a person who is not insured by a policy" is the liability of my mate who was driving the car? I had no involvement in the accident - if I had, the issue wouldn't have arisen as I was insured to drive the car in question] or from any person who

(a)is insured by the policy, or whose liability is covered by the security, by the terms of which the liability would be covered if the policy insured all persons or, as the case may be, the security covered the liability of all persons, and

(b)caused or permitted the use of the vehicle which gave rise to the liability." [I don't see how this last bit can apply to me either - although I may have (albeit unwittingly) caused or permitted the use of the vehicle, I am not insured by that insurer's policy].

Any advice would be much appreciated - either as to my interpretation of S.151 or whether there is any other piece of legislation that the other party's insurers could claim against me under. The other party's vehicle was getting on in years and their insurers have deducted the salvage value, so the amount they are claiming is a three-figure sum that I could pay if I had to, but I have no intention of paying anything unless I'm 100% certain that I'm legally liable.

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - SlidingPillar

You need a solictor who is well versed in motoring law - some motoring organisations have legal departments for members.

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - dacouch

The Road Traffic Act basically means that if there's an accident and the driver is identified (Judgement Against) and there's an insurance policy on the car then the Insurer of the car is liable irrespective of whether the driver is named on the policy or not.

The above would apply to a car thief or someone you've loaned the car to as in your specific case providing they're identified.

If the driver is not identified the Insurer is not liable although if the MIB become involved they will often pass it back to the Insurer anyway.

The wording of 151 refers to "Judgement" by claiming against your Insurance the other party can go through to court and obtain judgement although this is fairly rare as Insurers generally look to settle a claim before court to save on costs when they know they will lose.

This basically means your Insurer will be liable, they will pay the third party claim as per their obligations under 151 of the RTA.

Obviously if your Insurers pay the claim it will be recorded as a fault claim (Which is likely to increase your premium) and affect your no claims bonus(Which is likely to increase your premium) if it's not protected.

Once they've paid the claim they will either go after your friend or more likely you to repay them their losses.

As the amount is relatively low it's worth considering paying this yourself depending on the size of the premium. However bear in mind that they may not have included their client's excess in the amount they're asking for and if the other driver has any injuries or car hire these will normally be claimed by a different company and will be many more times more expensive.

So basically your Insurers will be liable due to RTA 151 which they will seek to recover from someone which will probably be you.

RTA 151 can also apply when you sell your car and don't cancel your Insurance if the new owner does not insure the car and has an accident, hence why it's sensible to cancel your policy when you sell the car.

If you're a member of a union, you may get free legal advice. Speaking to a solicitor (Unless you use the 30 min free advice) will cost you money and they will tell you exactly the same as I have.

I could post links from claims companies explaining this but other posters don't like links. Google "RTA Insurer 151" or "Uninsured Driver 151" which will bring up websites explaining it along with relevant case law.

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - skidpan

Exactly the same thing in reverse happened to me several years ago.

I was hit head on by another car who was on my side of the road. It was not his car, it was a mates he had borrowed, he had written his own off 2 days before.

The car was not insured for him to drive and the driver was not insured to drive other cars.

I was fully comp thus my car was repaired within weeks but I had to pay th excess and then there was the loss of NCB sort for an accident that was not my fault.

My insurance company was no help.

The cars insurers would not speak to me.

The drivers insurers would not speak to me.

The police were not interested despite the obvious fact the car/driver were not insured.

Eventually instructed solicitor who had it sorted within weeks. The insurance company who covered the car had to foot my bill which no doubt annoyed the owner of the car.

Basically you will be liable via your insurance company.

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - Estafette

Thanks for the responses so far.

My insurance company have denied liability under S.151 - without going into details, due to certain specific details of my policy it seems they are able to do this, and their denial of liability certainly seems to have been accepted by the other party's insurers, who mentioned this as a reason when I queried why they were coming after me.

I'm aware that if my insurance company had paid out, they'd be entitled to take me to court to recover their outlay, but this isn't the situation here - it is the other party's insurer who is coming after me directly, and I can't see how they are legally entitled to do this.

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - dacouch

Insurers often deny responsibility under 151, but if the driver is identified and there's a specific policy on the car and assuming the other driver has driving other cars there are few if any reasons they can get away with not paying.

What it says in the policy wording makes no difference to 151, it's the fact there's a Certificate of Insurance on the specific vehicle that means they can claim under 151.

Do you have a motortrade or fleet policy?

It sounds like the other Insurers are attempting to claim from your Insurance now.

If a thief stole your vehicle and had an accident, the other party can claim under your policy assuming the driver was identified.

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - Estafette

Dacouch - yes it is a motortrade policy. This is the grounds on which my insurers have denied liability - that it is not a policy covering a specific vehicle, but a general policy covering me to drive any vehicle in my custody or control. As I say, the other party's insurers appear to have accepted this.

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - skidpan

Dacouch - yes it is a motortrade policy.

Why did you not put this in the original post. It could well affect the answers you get.

Or have you something to hide perhaps.

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - Estafette

Erm, nope - nothing to hide. Not sure why you'd think that. Even if I did it wouldn't really matter - it's not like I'm using my full name and address to post on here.

I didn't mention the motortrade policy simply because I didn't think it was relevant to the original question I asked, which was whether the third party's insurer can come after me directly, under S.151 or another part of the RTA, to recover their outlay. At this stage of the proceedings it seems they have accepted my insurer's denial of liability, so the question as to whether my insurer can or can't deny liability under S.151 is a bit of a moot point for the time being.

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - Brit_in_Germany

Estafette, if I was in your position, the wording of subsection 8(b) would have me seriously worried - as said earlier, this is a matter for a good solicitor. Also, you might wish to make a claim against your "friend".

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - Estafette

B_i_G, the wording of subsection 8 (b) would have me worried if it were not subject to subsection 8 (a), which states that that part of the subsection only applies to a person who is insured under a policy issued by the insurer who is trying to make the recovery. At least that's my reading of it. So in other words, if my insurance company had paid out to the third party and was trying to recover from me, I would imagine that subsection 8 (b) would pretty much have me screwed - but that isn't the case here.

I would agree that this is probably a matter for a specialist solicitor, but in view of the relatively small amount being claimed I could easily end up forking out more in legal fees than I would have done if I'd simply paid up... Which is why I thought I'd ask on here first. I might try the CAB and see if they can help.

Claiming against my mate would be a non-starter unfortunately as he's currently out of work and skint, so any recovery I was able to make against him would doubtless be paid to me at the rate of about £10 a month - so not really worth bothering with...

N/A - Road Traffic Act section 151 - Brit_in_Germany

This site


would appear to indicate that if you had insured the car you would be liable. As you say, though, you are insured under a trade policy so that the specific car doesn't have its own policy. Whether this is sufficient for you to escape liability or not would appear to be the question which needs to be clarified.


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