Insurance Requirement

The Road Traffic Act requires mandatory  insurance in respect of liability for the negligent use of a mechanically propelled  vehicle. There must be in approved policy of insurance meeting certain conditions and of certain amounts. Alternatively there must be in approved guarantee in the same terms.

The policy must cover the owner/ driver and the liability of some other persons who would be liable for the driver’s negligent use such as an owner or employer.  The insurance policy must cover damages to person and property caused by negligent use up to a minimum of €1,127,000 for property loss and unlimited liability for personal injury per claim. Certain exceptions from liability are allowed by contract.

The approved policy of insurance must cover damages and costs on account of injury in any designated territory internationally, to the extent required by the compulsory insurance requirement in that territory, or that  required domestically, whichever is greater.  Designated territories in which compulsory insurance extends to are the UK, the other member states in the European Union together with Croatia, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

The vehicle insurer may be an Irish authorised insurer under Irish or EU wide non-life insurance regulations in class 10.

A mechanically propelled vehicle includes its trailer.


Breach of the above requirement is an offence subject on summary conviction  to a fine up to €5000 or imprisonment up to six months or both. An employee using his employers vehicle pursuant to  express orders has a defence.. An owner has a defence if the vehicle was being driven without his consent and he took all reasonable precautions to prevent it being so used, or that  it was being used by an employee in contravention of instructions.

If a demand is made for a certificate of insurance (guarantee or exemption) and the same is not produced, it is presumed that the vehicle was being driven without the requisite insurance. The onus of proof is then on the driver to show that there was insurance.

Driving without insurance carries five penalty points on conviction. There is consequential disqualification of two years in the case of a first offence four years in the case of second and subsequent offences within three years by the same person.

In the case of a first offence tried summarily in the District Court the court where it finds there is a special reason which it must specify, decline to make the consequential disqualification order or may make a shorter disqualification order.

The general power to impose a compensation order upon conviction for an offence applies where a person commits the above offence and personal injury, or loss follows as a consequence of it.

If a vehicle  is not insured in breach of the legislation, it may be detained in accordance with the regulations for the removal storage and disposal of vehicles.

Proceedings for no insurance may be instituted within six months of the offence or three months of the date on which evidence sufficient to institute proceedings in the  opinion of the prosecutor was available


Foreign Vehicles

The EU wide regulations on compulsory insurance require drivers and owners of vehicles in one state to have policies which covers the driving through the EU and/EEA. Where a person in charge of a vehicle based outside the State and the designated territories (EU /EEA), enters the State,  any time thereafter they may be required to produce proof of compulsory insurance on the above terms. Where the use of the vehicle is prohibited the vehicle may be removed and detained until  proof of insurance is produced.

There is provision for production of a green card as evidence of insurance on the part of vehicles based and registered outside of the E EU EEA.

Excepted Persons

Regulations can  be made providing for excepted persons, which are usually certain State bodies.  In the excepted cases,  subject to conditions, compulsory insurance may be disapplied or limited

The Minister may designate entities as excepted persons while in a mechanically propelled vehicle or any vehicle drawn by a mechanically propelled  vehicle.   Where an approved issues a policy of insurance or an approved guarantees (equivalent to policy of  insurance), he must give a certificate to the insured.

A vehicle insurer, guarantor or exempted person may give a certificate of exemption as above.  See above in relation to exemptions for the benefit of state authorities.

Where negligence or breach of duty is committed in relation to a mechanically propelled vehicle belonging to the State, the Minister of Finance is liable in respect for damages in the same manner as if it was owner of the vehicle.  The user is deemed employee of the Minister for Finance.

Certificates of Insurance

Vehicle insurers must give a certificate of insurance, a certificate of guarantee on issue of a policy.  Where a certificate is issued, the insurer is deemed to have issued an insurance policy conforming to  that specified in the certificate.  If a policy has issued, but its terms are less favourable to the claimant, the particulars are deemed as between the insurer and the third-party to conform to those in  the certificate.

An exempt person is a board or body established by law or act of the Oireachtas or a company the shareholder for which is a Minister or shares of which are held by the State, respect of which the minister has issued a certificate that the relevant body is exempted from the requirement for mandatory insurance.  The Minister must not issue a certificates unless he is of the opinion that the board or other body as capable of meeting any liability arising out of the negligent use of a mechanically propelled vehicle.

As in the case of driving licences and vehicle test certificates, a person may be requested to produce a certificate of insurance to a nominated Garda Siochana.  If he fails to do so, it is presumed that the vehicle was being driven in contravention of the requirement. In a prosecution there must be evidenced before the court, that a demand was made, and the person failed to produce a certificate.

Issue of Certificates

It is an offence to forge or alter a certificate of insurance. It is an offence to lend a certificate to another to permit them to use it in purported proof of insurance. It is an offence to produce particulars which are false and misleading. Breach is an offence a subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €3000 and/or six months imprisonment.

Insurance companies are obliged to issue a certificate of insurance. A person whose cover is terminated or suspended other than by expiry is obliged to deliver the certificate of insurance back to the insurer.

Certificates of insurance are to be in the prescribed format and subject to authentication as specified. There are provisions regarding records and authentication. New certificates may be issued if the old certificate is lost or defaced.

Production of Certificate

As in the case of driving licences and vehicle test certificates, a person may be requested to produce a certificate of insurance to a nominated Garda Siochana.  If he fails to do so, it is presumed that the vehicle was being driven in contravention of the requirement. In a prosecution there must be evidenced before the court, that a demand was made, and the person failed to produce a certificate.

There are equivalent provisions in respect of an offences committed by the owner, where he or she is not he driver. Where a demand for a certificate is made of the user, it is not necessary to make a similar demand of the owner before prosecuting him.  It is defence for the owner to prove that the vehicle was not used or that it was used without his consent and he took all reasonable precautions to prevent it from being used or the persons so using it, was an employee who took it in breach of instructions.

If he fails to produce it and fails within 10 days to produce it to a nominated Garda station, he is guilty of an offence.  It is presumed, unless shown to the contrary that he did not produce the certificate.  It is good defence to show that he did not use the vehicle, or he was an employee acting in obedience to the orders of the owner.

It is an offence to fail to produce a certificate when required or to refuse to permit the member of an Garda Siochana to read it.  A member of an Garda Siochana may arrest without warrant a person who provides a certificate but refuses or fails to permit it to be read or examined or gives false or misleading information.

Case law indicates that the request for production should be for any one of the above alternatives i.e. certificate of insurance or exemption. The demand need not be made or expressed in any particular form.


Insurance companies are obliged to issue discs which must be displayed on most vehicles. There are some limited exceptions. Generally a person may not use a vehicle in a public place after 10 days from authentication of the certificate off insurance unless the prescribed insurance disk is displayed.

Generally the insurance this must be carried in a conspicuous place on the windscreen so that it is visible for inspection. Contravention is an offence subject to the general penalty. It is  subject to a fixed charge the of €60.

It is an offence to interfere with deface or mutilate a disc. When a vehicle is sold the disc  is to be removed and delivered to the insurer. The disc becomes void when the policy becomes void. If it becomes void, it must be removed.

Powers of Gardai

Members of Garda Siochana may demand production of a certificate of insurance, guarantee or exemption, on demand.  Where a member of an Garda Siochana has grounds for believing that a vehicle was used in a public place on a particular occasion by a particular person, he  may at any time within one month demand of the person, the production of either a certificate of insurance , guarantee or  exemption in respect of the use.

A member of an Garda Siochana  may request the owner within three months of an occasion to produce certificate of insurance (et cetera) in respect of the use of the vehicle on that particular occasion and if he fails to do so or to produce the same within 10 days he is guilty of an offence.

If the vehicle is being used other than in accordance with the required compulsory insurance, they  may require the owner to remove the vehicle to such a place, subject to  such conditions as may be specified.  It may be retained until  evidence is given that it is insured in accordance with the law of a EU state or other EEA state.If the insured’s policy is terminated or suspended before its natural expiry, the insured must within 7 days to deliver back the certificate of insurance in respect of the policy.

Uninsured Drivers

An amended agreement has been entered between the Minister for Transport and the Bureau relating to accidents after 1st May, 2004. It  provides that victims of an accident involving an uninsured vehicle must first apply to the Bureau for compensation.  Redress to the courts is available where the victim is refused compensation by the Bureau or is not satisfied with the offer.

Compensation for personal injuries or death is available as of right for victims of untraced hit and non-drivers.  Compensation is not available where a collision is between two uninsured drivers, where  the vehicle was stolen or obtained by violence or threats or where the person knew or ought to have known that the vehicle was uninsured.  Compensation for property damage is available, but not in relation to vehicle damage.  Various conditions apply.  See otherwise in relation to the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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