All cars must be insured with at least third party cover. Your car must have year-round insurance, even if it’s not being used, unless your car has been declared off the road. This has been the case since 2011, when Continuous Insurance Enforcement rules were introduced by the government.
How you can find out if your car is insured?
It is very quick and easy to find out if your car is insured – just use the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to check if your vehicle is on the list. You will need to enter your registration number and declare you are authorised to drive the car.
This list is the UK’s central record of motor insurance, which holds information on every car on the road. It’s also used by the police to identify uninsured vehicles.
If your car is not in use, it needs to be declared officially ‘off the road’ via a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) or you could be fined up to £1,000.
What is Continuous Insurance Enforcement?
Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) was introduced to clamp down on uninsured drivers.
This growing problem currently costs the car industry £500 million – with law-abiding citizens ultimately picking up the shortfall by paying higher premiums, usually around £10-30 a year.
Previously only uninsured drivers on the road were breaking the law, but this new legislation means that even stationary vehicles without insurance are forbidden. Today the Motor Insurance Database and the DVLA work together, comparing records to identify offending vehicles and penalise them accordingly.
What are the penalties if my car is uninsured?
Should you be discovered to be keeping a car without insurance, even if it’s in a garage, the Motor Insurers Bureau will send you an Insurance Advisory letter advising that you will be fined if you don’t insure the vehicle or declare a SORN.
If this is ignored, you’ll receive a fixed penalty notice of £100. Your vehicle may be clamped or seized – it could crushed after being seized – and you could receive a court prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.
Are there any exemptions?
You will be exempt from car insurance if you have officially declared your car to be off the road by informing the DVLA and making a Statutory Off Road Notification. When you do this, you will automatically get a refund of your road tax.
The only other exemptions are if the car has been reported stolen or recorded as scrapped.
How can I avoid a penalty?
To avoid a penalty you need to either insure your vehicle immediately, notify the DVLA that you are no longer the registered keeper or, as above, declare a SORN. If you don’t do this you’ll face at least a £100 penalty.
Get cheaper car insurance
While car insurance is still a considerable expense, it's a legal requirement; it’s better to pay for it than end up with a large fine, a court prosecution or be without a car after it’s destroyed.
It is possible, however, to make huge savings by simply shopping around and comparing policies to make sure you’re getting the cheapest car insurance deal.
Or go to our money saving tips page to find more ways of lowering the cost of this unavoidable expense.