UK Insurers Relax Penalties Over Car Safety Certificates

Law360, London (March 25, 2020, 4:44 PM GMT) -- British insurers said on Wednesday they will not penalize customers for driving without a valid car safety certificate, following any coronavirus-related closures of car repair shops.

The Association of British Insurers said the relaxation of the rules was due to the "unprecedented situation" of a U.K.-wide lockdown, introduced at midnight on Monday in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Normally, driving without an annual certificate of safety from a car garage, known in the U.K. as an "MOT," will invalidate your motor insurance. It is also illegal and can result in a £2,500 fine and a ban from driving.

"In this unprecedented situation, insurers will not penalise you if you can't get an MOT," a spokesman for the ABI said. "Safety is paramount so check your brakes, tyres and lights before driving."

The news comes as the government moved to close many businesses in a bid to control the spread of the virus, including public venues like restaurants and bars and shops selling "nonessential goods."

Although car repair garages are not required to close as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, many have done so voluntarily. Motorists have been concerned they would need to take their vehicles off the road if they have been unable to get the safety tests done.

The government said earlier on Wednesday it had offered a six-month extension for existing MOT certificates belonging to motorists due to have the safety checks done after March 30.

Those who are due to have MOTs beforehand are still required to do so. The extension only applies to cars and motorbikes, while lorries must still get MOTs done as usual.

Motorists are still required to ensure their cars are in a "roadworthy condition" and can still be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.

"We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID-19 are able to do so," Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.

"Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine," he added.

--Editing by Daniel King.

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