By Paul Lewis
Presenter, BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Two thousand motorists could be driving illegally after a major insurer failed to renew their policies despite telling them it would.
Drivers are breaking the law if they are driving without insurance
Co-operative Insurance (CIS) has admitted it sent out letters and certificates to these customers but did not take the money to renew their motor insurance cover.
The company is writing to the customers concerned warning them that their policies have lapsed and they must now make contact to renew their insurance.
It says it will pay any claims that are made but confirmed that technically the drivers are breaking the law by driving without valid insurance.
Duncan Bowker of CIS told BBC Radio 4's Money Box which drivers were without cover: "We have identified 2,000 policyholders who may be affected by the technical problem we have had with auto-renewals - these are people who have elected to pay by debit or credit card and to allow the premium to be debited from the card.
"Unfortunately, we have experienced problems with the software which hasn't enabled us to collect the premium.
"It applies to people whose policies would have been renewable from mid-July to mid-September of this year."
CIS is now writing to all the 2,000 people it has identified, advising them that they are not insured, even though they have a certificate of insurance.
And Mr Bowker reassured customers that CIS would honour any valid claims made during this period.
"The CIS are obliged to deal with any claim arising under the terms of the Road Traffic Act, so none of those customers would have been deemed to be uninsured as far as CIS was concerned," he told the programme.
But he warned: "You could argue they were committing a technical offence of driving without insurance.
"However, the likelihood of any prosecution would be extremely remote and we would correspond with the police to confirm that this error was a CIS fault."
Anyone who thinks they may be affected should call CIS on 08457 464646.
Anyone who is uninsured will have to take out a new policy but Mr Bowker said CIS would honour the premium set out in the renewal letter.
Lines are open Monday to Friday 0800-2000 BST, Saturdays from 0900-1700 BST, and on Sunday, 24 September from 0900-1600 BST.
BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday 23 September 2006, at 1204 BST and was repeated on Sunday, 24 September at 2102 BST.