A vehicle’s registration payment includes a compulsory premium paid to the Motor Accidents Insurance Board (“the MAIB”). By paying this premium an owner of a vehicle effectively enters into an insurance contract with the MAIB who provide insurance coverage for personal injuries resulting from a motor accident.
Driving an unregistered vehicle is not only an offence but can have serious financial ramifications.
The Motor Accidents Insurance Board
The MAIB is required to pay scheduled benefits to any person involved in a motor accident in Tasmania who suffers personal injury (there are some exceptions).
This is a no-fault scheme and can include payment of medical and associated expenses, disability allowances and domestic assistance (see section 23 of the Motor Accidents (Liabilities and Compensation) Act 1973 (“the Act”)).
The MAIB has a legal right to recover from the owner of an unregistered vehicle involved in an accident, any and all scheduled benefits paid to an injured person, regardless of whether the owner of the unregistered vehicle was at fault for the accident.
It is therefore important to ensure that if you own an unregistered vehicle, you do not permit others to use your vehicle. In instances where someone uses your unregistered vehicle without your consent or acquiescence, the MAIB will seek recovery against the driver, not the owner.
The definition of motor vehicle includes the majority of trailers, so it is critical to ensure that all trailers that are required to be registered have the correct premium paid at all times. If a vehicle towing a trailer is registered but the trailer itself is not, this is sufficient to allow the MAIB to seek recovery against the owner of the trailer, any scheduled benefits paid.
The MAIB is also bound to indemnify an owner or user of a motor vehicle, in respect of any claim for damages made against them for personal injuries caused by that person’s negligence (see section 14 of the Act). This is a fault-based system.
In instances where the driver of an unregistered vehicle is at fault for an accident, the MAIB has a right to recover any damages paid to the injured person from the owner or the driver of the unregistered vehicle. Depending upon the severity of the injuries sustained by the injured person, the sum sought by the MAIB could be significant.
Effects of Recovery by the MAIB
The MAIB has 6 years from the date of the accident (potentially longer depending upon when expenses are paid by them to and on behalf of an injured person) in which to seek recovery from an owner and or driver of an unregistered vehicle. If a judgment is obtained, the MAIB will look at enforcement options including garnisheeing of wages, seizing of assets, and caveats over property. A judgment could in some circumstances result in bankruptcy.
Once a judgment is obtained, the MAIB has 12 years in which to undertake enforcement proceedings.
If a vehicle is not registered it may also lead a property damage insurer of the vehicle to refuse indemnity if the failure to register amounts to an excluded peril. There are remedial provisions available to a person if their insurer takes such action in the Insurance Contracts Act 1984; however, this remains another potential adverse consequence.
Important Take Aways
Whether intentionally or by mistake, allowing an unregistered vehicle (including a trailer) to be on the road is not worth the risk.
It is important to ensure all registration and MAIB premiums are up to date. Payment of registration can be made online and if you are unsure if your vehicle is registered, free online registration checks can be undertaken at any time.
If you have been involved in a motor accident and wish to know your rights or discuss any other issue arising out of that accident, contact our insurance litigation team.