Police forces around the UK have crushed more than 56,000 cars seized from uninsured drivers in the last two years, in the face of rising offender numbers.
According to the latest figures, a total of 100,983 drivers were caught driving without insurance in 2020 and 102,387 vehicles seized from offenders.
That represents a 16 per cent rise in the number of offenders from 2019, when 86,914 people were caught and 96,276 vehicles were seized.
In total, drivers paid out £11.7 million in 2019-20 to have their cars released by police, according to data obtained by Confused.com, but in many cases owners simply abandoned their vehicles.
In cases where a car has been seized for an insurance or licence offence under Section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the owner has 14 days to reclaim their vehicle before police dispose of it. However, it can be an expensive business and it seems some drivers would rather write the car off than fork out hundreds of pounds to reclaim it.
On top of the standard £300 fine for driving without insurance, offenders have to pay a recovery fee of £150 and storage fees of £20 per day. They also have to prove the car is properly insured and taxed and that they have a licence to drive it before it is released.
If a driver fails to reclaim their vehicle, police can dispose of it. In some cases this can involve auctioning the car off and in 2019-20 police made more than £6.2m selling off more than 9,000 seized vehicles. However, in other cases the cars are simply scrapped or crushed.
A minimum of third-party insurance is needed to drive any car and the standard penalty for driving without insurance is six penalty points and a fixed penalty of £300. However, if the case goes to court offenders can be hit with a driving ban and unlimited fine.
Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, commented: “Driving without insurance is an offence that can be costly in fines but can also damage your record when it comes to applying for a new car insurance policy.
“Not only this, but you could risk having to pay to have your car released, which when you consider the fine as well, could end up costing you more than an insurance policy itself.”