Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The MIBI is rightly proud of our mandate to compensate victims of road traffic accidents caused by uninsured motorists. This has always been part and parcel of our operations and it is what has driven our activity since we were first established in 1955. Essentially it is a core part of our activity.

However, another key responsibility of the MIBI, which is perhaps not as well known, is to ‘recover’ the full amount paid out on claims due to road traffic accidents caused by uninsured motorists. If an uninsured motorist chooses to drive without insurance and causes an accident then they are liable to reimburse MIBI the total amount paid out.

Effectively, under the ‘recovery’ banner the MIBI’s objectives are twofold. Firstly to recover from the uninsured motorist and secondly to act as a deterrent to uninsured driving.

Since my appointment as the Claims Recovery Specialist in January 2018 a renewed focus has been applied to the recovery section.

The first step in the recovery process is to seek Judgment against the uninsured motorist for the full amount of the debt owed. In 2018 we obtained 31 Judgments.

Since then a review has taken place on a large number of additional cases and in the first eight months of 2019 we have succeeded in obtaining a further 95 Judgments. Effectively that comes to a total of 126 Judgments over the course of just 20 months.

Securing a Judgment is an absolutely vital aspect of our recovery activity. However obtaining a Judgment is only as good as the enforcement option applied to it.

There are a number of different enforcement options available to the MIBI. These include:

  1. Sheriff. The sheriff can be instructed to recover our debt. This can include seizing assets up to the value of the debt from uninsured motorists.

  2. Instalment Order. This is a court order compelling the debtor to repay the outlay in instalments.

  3. Committal Order. If a debtor fails to comply with the Instalment Order the MIBI can commence Committal Order proceedings. This can lead to the debtor being arrested if they fail to appear at the court hearing and also being imprisoned if the debtor is found to have the means to pay but refuses to do so.

  4. Judgment Mortgage. The MIBI can register a charge against property owned by the debtor. A Judgment Mortgage lasts for 12 years, or until the debt is settled. The MIBI also has the capacity to force the sale of the property.

  5. Publish Judgment. If a Judgment is published against a debtor it affects the debtor’s credit rating indefinitely or up to the point of the debt being settled.

  6. Garnishee Order. In the event of a debtor making a subsequent claim the MIBI can obtain a Garnishee Order which allows us to recover monies directly from the settlement of such claims.

  7. Bankruptcy. The MIBI has the capacity to commence bankruptcy proceedings with the purpose of making the debtor “a bankrupt”.

In the 20 months since the beginning of 2018 we have recovered over €570,000 through these mechanisms from uninsured motorists. With the significant increase in Judgments being obtained, along with the enforcement of these Judgments, the amounts recovered will increase.

Talking about this in the abstract is not always the best way to convey the impact of our activity, so let me take you through a couple of examples which illustrate just how our recovery and enforcement process works.

This gives a sense of the timelines involved in the recovery process and how the reviewing of old cases recently undertaken by the MIBI has assisted in our efforts.

Recovery Example 1

An accident occurred in August 2000. The uninsured motorist did not co-operate with the investigation. The claim was finalised in 2002 for €31,793. A Judgment was then obtained against the uninsured motorist in 2004. This was followed by an Instalment Order in 2006.

Despite the presence of this Court mandated Order, the debtor still did not engage with the MIBI. A committal application was made and a bench warrant was issued. Nothing happened for several years, but the debtor was very much mistaken if he thought the problem had gone away and he had evaded his responsibilities.

In February 2019, the MIBI received a phone call from the Gardaí to state they had the debtor in custody. The debtor had attempted to renew his driving licence and the bench warrant had shown up on the Gardaí Pulse system. A fresh Instalment Order was obtained that same month for €600 per month.

At this point, it became clear to the debtor he could no longer evade his responsibilities. Not only has the debtor complied with the court order he has now negotiated a final settlement to his debt. 

Recovery Example 2

In this example the accident involving the uninsured motorist took place in April 2001. The claim was finalised in November 2007 for €76,632. On the back of the claim being finalised the MIBI was able to secure a Judgment against the uninsured motorist in December 2011. 

During the course of the investigation into the accident the accident investigator was able to ascertain that the uninsured motorist has two properties – his primary residence and a rental property.  The MIBI obtained a Judgment Mortgage on the rented property in 2015.

We also obtained an Instalment Order for €500 per month. The debtor’s sons have made these payments and to date have reimbursed €19,000 to the MIBI.

Negotiations took place between the debtor and the MIBI where it was agreed a once off payment would be accepted in full and final settlement of the debt. The debtor reneged on this agreement. The MIBI subsequently issued proceedings to enforce the sale of the uninsured motorist’s rental property and to appoint a receiver to obtain all rental income.

What these examples emphasise are that while the route to recovery can take time, the MIBI’s powers of recovery do not go away and will remain with the uninsured motorists until their debts are satisfied. It’s another reminder of the consequences of driving without insurance.

We will continue to obtain Judgments relating to older and more recent cases in the months ahead, as well as pressing on with enforcing these Judgments against uninsured motorists who are responsible for causing road traffic accidents.