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Are you Insured to drive Company Vehicles?

company car driving without insurance

My employer asked me to drive. If I am stopped by the police, do I have a defence to driving without insurance?

Is there a defence to the allegation?

Yes, the most obvious of which is that the use of the vehicle was insured.  However, ignorance of lack of cover is not in itself a defence as driving without insurance is a ‘strict liability’ offence.  This means that a motorist commits the offence even if he or she did not know or believe that there was no insurance cover.

The Employment Defence

The statute does provide an exception to the strict liability rule set out above which is that a motorist shall not be convicted (note that this defence is not a bar to prosecution but to conviction):-

if he or she proves that—

1. the vehicle did not belong to him and was not in his possession under a contract of hiring or of loan

2. he was using the vehicle in the course of his employment, and

3. he neither knew nor had reason to believe that there was not in force in relation to the vehicle a policy of insurance.

This can give rise to uncertainty, for example, how should ‘in the course of his employment’ be interpreted? 

Suppose, for example, you were asked by your employer to pop out for some milk for the tea and you used your own car which was only covered for social, domestic and pleasure use.  It might be alleged that you weren’t insured as this was ‘business use’.  Suppose, on the other hand, that your employer asked you to use the company car and you did so without realising you were not insured.  Depending on all the circumstances of the case you might be able to rely upon the statutory employment defence set out above although don’t forget, the burden of proving it would be on you!


The application of the law to the infinitely variable circumstances that can arise and its interpretation by the courts can give rise to uncertainty.  We have been instructed by a self-employed client who drove a vehicle at the behest of his ‘employer’ not realising he was not insured. We will run the statutory defence and argue that ‘employment’ includes ‘self-employment’.  It will be interesting to see the outcome.

Post Script:  The court did not accept the defence and convicted the Defendant of the offence.  However, an alternative submission was then put forward that special reasons existed (largely based on the facts which had been evidenced during the trial).  This submission was accepted and the Defendant’s licence (and livelihood) were saved.  The client, needless to say, was thrilled with the outcome.

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11 thoughts on “Are you Insured to drive Company Vehicles?”

  1. Thank you, Madam, for your positive comment. Of course, all of the articles on the this site are directly relevant to the driving of cars. I propose to post one article per week and within the next few weeks there should be another on ‘special reasons’ and their applicability to allegations of driving without insurance. If this area interests you please do look out for it.

  2. Surely it’s unlikely that an employee would have a reason to believe there wasn’t insurance on the vehicle. What employer would tell their employee to drive a car and then add on it’s uninsured.

    Seems like a criterion that would always by satisfied in my opinion. Thoughts?

    1. It is certainly the case that often an employee would not expect to be asked to drive by his employer if there was no valid insurance cover. That’s why the defence is needed ie to cover those cases where the employer decides to take a risk and ask his employee to drive
      even though there is no cover. Alternatively, the employer might make an honest mistake thinking the employee was covered. Either way the employee should not be culpable.

  3. I’ve had a company vehicle for the past six months I’ve been pulled by the police and have told me I am not named as insured in that vehicle can I Sue the company for hiring a vehicle to me without insurance for 6-months

    1. If an employer tells you you are insured to drive a company vehicle and you are not insured you might have a valid defence to driving without insurance. If you go to the blogs section on the website and type in employer defence, no insurance, it should take you to the relevant article. Sorry not to see your question sooner.

  4. I was pulled by the police, and was told that the vehicle was showing as uninsured, with it being a company vehicle and the keys being available to get I presumed it was road legal and safe, as have no way of checking otherwise, where do I stand

    1. The responsibility for ensuring that you are insured rests upon the driver unless an employer misled you, in which case,
      in certain circumstances, you could have a defence to the charge.

  5. What if the driver is uninsured (according the company he was working for – who picked him up after he trashed three parked cars and sent a tow truck for the company car) and according to the police ‘cannot be traced’ (the company would not confirm his identity). The insurance was all paid up by the company (bar the excess) but how can a complaint be made about the company and their possibly illegal (and dangerous) recruitment practices?

    1. The question you pose is one closer to employment law rather than motoring offence law. May I suggest you seek advice
      from an employment lawyer.

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