Why is it Against the Law to Drive Without Motor Insurance?

by Martin McRandal | 2 min read    June 6th, 2019

Have you ever thought it odd that it is compulsory to buy motor insurance, but not compulsory to purchase other types of insurance, e.g. home, travel, and pet insurance? (Although you will struggle to get a mortgage if you do not have Home Buildings cover in place).

There is a compulsory element to motor insurance. That is the requirement to insure your legal liability for injury caused to other persons, and damage caused to the property of others. This is commonly referred to as ‘third party’ cover. It is not compulsory to be covered either comprehensively or for fire and theft risks.

Why is Motor Insurance Compulsory?

Motor insurance is compulsory because of the risks involved with using a motor vehicle and the associated costs.

In 1922, authorities began recording numbers of road traffic deaths and injuries1. As population increased, so did road-related incidents.


  • 1922: 511
  • 1933: 1851
  • 2016: 1872


  • 1922: 583 (involving either motor cars or horse drawn vehicles)1
  • 1933: 2,7471
  • 2016: 7,7102 (as defined by the road traffic collision database)

In 1933, it became compulsory to purchase motor insurance in Ireland when the Road Traffic Act was introduced. In 2016 alone, 210,000 motor insurance claims reported to insurers in Ireland resulted in a net incurred cost of €940 million.

What if Motor Insurance Wasn’t Compulsory?

Imagine for a moment that it was not compulsory to have motor insurance in place when driving a vehicle. You’re driving and someone drives out of a side road and into the side of your car, causing damage to the car and injury to you. You instruct a Solicitor to pursue a claim for your injuries. If the ‘at fault’ driver had no insurance, then your Solicitor may pursue your claim directly against them. This may mean that they have to sell their house or other assets to pay for the claim. If they don’t have any assets, then your claim may be unsatisfied, perhaps leaving you to pay for your own legal fees.

You, however, have comprehensive insurance. Your insurer pays for the repair of your car. If they are unable to recover from the ‘at fault’ party, however, then your claim may adversely affect your no claim bonus entitlement going forward, increasing the cost of future premiums.

In fact, if it were not compulsory to arrange motor insurance then it is likely that motor insurance premiums in general would be significantly higher than they are because the burden of paying motor damage and injury claims will be largely shared among the few who do have motor insurance.

Motor insurance is compulsory because of the risks associated with using and driving a motor vehicle. Every year a significant number of people are killed or seriously injured on our roads. There is a large financial cost to individuals and to society, associated with road traffic incidents. That financial cost is largely borne directly by insurers and indirectly by drivers, through the payment of claims and insurance premiums. In short, it’s beneficial for both the driver and the insurance company that compulsory motor insurance exists: it means that motorists have the courage to go about their daily lives with confidence.


This guidance is for general information purposes only. Allianz accepts no responsibility or liability for any losses that may arise from any reliance upon the information contained in this guidance.

Information correct as of date of publishing. This blog will not be updated or edited so the information may become outdated.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_road_traffic_accidents_deaths_in_Republic_of_Ireland_by_year#cite_note-dail1934050100004-11
  2. https://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Database/eirestat/Road%20Safety%20Statistics/Road%20Safety%20Statistics_statbank.asp?SP=Road%20Safety%20Statistics&Planguage=0&ProductID=DB_RSA


Martin McRandal
Business owner, consultant, and expert witness. Former motor and property insurance underwriter.