The RAC has warned that many motorists could be invalidating their insurance because they have failed to inform their insurer about penalty points on their licence.

Research by RAC Insurance found that nearly a fifth of motorists (18%) would not inform their insurer if they picked up penalty points while driving, which it said was potentially putting nearly seven million drivers at risk of holding invalid insurance, as well as future prosecution.

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey said: “Our research points to one of two likely scenarios: either motorists are simply forgetting to inform the relevant authorities when they receive points, or they are intentionally not telling them in order to keep their insurance premium lower.

“In either case, the result is hundreds of thousands of drivers on our roads who are effectively uninsured by default. This could have very serious, and indeed costly implications should they be involved in an accident, and could cause no end of problems should they need to make an insurance claim themselves.”

The DVLA, which holds data on each motorist’s penalty points, launched a joint initiative called My Licence with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau in late 2014, to combat fraud. This gives insurers automatic access to the last five years of a motorist’s driving history, including points, if a motorist provides their driving licence number. However, the system is a voluntary one and not all insurers will insist on a driving licence number being provided, so in many circumstances a motorist can just choose to declare points and convictions when applying for an insurance policy.

Mark Godfrey continued: “The end of the paper counterpart to the driving licence and the arrival of the MyLicence system means more insurers have access to a driver’s motoring endorsements. This is a positive step in cutting fraud and should help to ensure motorists receive fairer premiums.

“While there is currently no requirement on motorists to provide their licence number when requesting a quote, this may well change in the future as insurers realise the benefits of taking endorsement data directly from the DVLA, rather than relying on a motorist’s word. In the meantime though, the message to motorists is clear – not declaring points is simply not worth the risk should you get caught or are involved in an accident.”