UNINSURED drivers involved in collisions, who account for six crashes every day, will be dealt with more harshly in future, the Irish Independent has learned.
Until now, the agency that compensates the victims of uninsured drivers has waited for lengthy court proceedings to end before trying to recoup the money from offenders.
In a change in policy, the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) is to give them a one-off chance to instead settle damages before the issue goes to court.
This will cut down on legal costs and ensure more prompt payment to victims.
"For the first time ever, we will be going after them soon after the accident," said MIBI chief executive John Casey.
"We want uninsured drivers to accept their responsibilities. We will give them one chance to settle with us. If they refuse, we will get a judgment against them, and have this lien on them."
If they later sell a property or come into an inheritance, they will then enforce the court order.
Mr Casey said they were paying out on about 2,300 crash claims involving uninsured drivers every year -- roughly 44 claims every week.
Uninsured drivers still account for as many as 5pc of all drivers, one in 20, or 120,800 of the 2.4 million licensed drivers in the State.
This is based on an analysis of the number of claims from insured and uninsured drivers, and compared with the entire cohort of licensed motorists.
An estimated 5pc of drivers are uninsured.
In 2010, the last year for which figures are available, MIBI incurred costs of some €58.9m meeting claims against uninsured and untraceable drivers.
The bureau is funded by a 6pc levy on all motor insurance policies.
Because the MIBI is funded by the commercial motor insurance companies, the costs are then passed onto drivers' premiums -- an estimated €30 onto the cost of every motorist's annual insurance premium.
Despite repeated campaigns against driving uninsured, the message has not got through as this cohort of drivers shows no sign of declining.