For drivers, motor insurance has become such an integral part of owning a vehicle that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s been around for as long as vehicles themselves. However, although vehicles have been on the roads since the start of the 20th century and widespread use began after the First World War, it wasn’t until the introduction of the Road Traffic Act in 1930 that vehicle owners were required to have motor insurance.
Back then, cars were relatively fast and dangerous. After the transition from the horse and cart age, drivers took some time to acclimatise to the new way of transportation and in the early days the roads were a perilous place to be. Accidents were common and unfortunately there were many deaths.
When injuries occurred and property was damaged, with motor insurance yet to be made compulsory, in many cases people were left to pick up the bill themselves. After this became a major issue, the British government decided things had to change, and in 1930 they introduced the first law that made it compulsory for all drivers to have insurance cover. This ensured that all vehicle owners had to be covered for their liability for injury or death to third parties, while driving on a public road.
Although in some American states insurance policies had been offered on a voluntary basis as far back as 1898, the UK was actually the first country on the planet to make it compulsory to have cover. It wasn’t long until other countries started following suit and over the next few decades it became widespread across the Western world.
The introduction of compulsory car insurance opened up a brand-new industry, and to this day motor insurance contributes hundreds of millions of pounds to the UK economy every year.
Interestingly, rules on car insurance can differ vastly from country-to-country. In Germany for example, car owners usually pay around 1000eur per year provided they’ve had no accidents for 3-years. If the vehicle is considered luxury, it can increase by up to 4 times that amount.
In Italy women pay less for their insurance as they are considered more careful drivers than men, while in some countries around the world it’s still not a legal requirement to have motor insurance while driving on public roads. Cambodia is one such place, so if you ever find yourself in the East Asian country then be careful while on the roads as an accident could end up costing you a pretty penny!
While motor insurance has become part and parcel of driving a vehicle, it’s interesting to learn about the time before its existence. Thankfully, with all drivers legally required to have car insurance, we can drive with peace of mind safe in the knowledge that we’re covered in the event of an accident.