Last updated: 15/04/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Driving without insurance
You should never drive without insurance. Car insurance is a legal necessity for all drivers if they want to be on the roads. But what happens if you don't have car insurance and you're caught driving without it? While the consequences might not even be worth thinking about, they should be a deterrent for anyone thinking about taking a car for a spin without cover. This guide explains what can happen, and why you should always avoid it.
In This Guide:
- How many people drive without insurance?
- What are the minimum requirements for car insurance?
- What other types of insurance are there?
- What is the point of car insurance?
- Fines for driving without car insurance
- Penalty points and driving bans
- Seizing and destroying your car
- Are there any cases when cars do not need to be insured?
How many people drive without insurance?
You need insurance to legally drive on Britain’s roads. Despite this, there are around a million uninsured drivers are on our roads, and roughly 6,000 prosecutions for keeping an uninsured vehicle each month.
What are the minimum requirements for car insurance?
All cars must have a minimum of third-party insurance cover before you can legally drive them. It’s against the law to not have minimum insurance under the Road Traffic Act 1988. Third party insurance only covers injuries or damage to a third party if somebody claims against you. For example, injuries to other people, passengers or animals, accidents caused by a passenger or named driver on your policy, damage to other people’s property (such as driving into their wall) and injured passengers in your car after a collision in which you are at fault.
Bodily injury liability covers costs from injuries, including hospital care expenses. Property damage liability covers payments to replace landscaping and compensation for loss of use of a structure.
Third-party car insurance will not cover repairs for your car in an accident caused by you, injuries to you, and replacement costs if your car has been stolen or destroyed by fire. If an accident is not your fault, the other person’s insurance provider will pay compensation owed directly to you.
What other types of insurance are there?
Third-party, fire and theft insurance – this covers what a third-party insurance would, with added protection in the case of fires and theft. This can be useful if you live in an area with a high crime rate. This insurance does not cover you or your car in cases other than fire damage and theft.
Fully comprehensive insurance covers all of the above, as well as chipping or scratching, vandalism and accidental damage to your car.
The cheapest car insurance depends on your personal circumstances, and it’s not always third-party insurance. You can compare quotes from reputable insurers on our website and find the best cheapest car insurance deals for you. Simply provide details about you, your car, what coverage you want, and we’ll find the best deals from multiple car insurers.
What is the point of car insurance?
If an accident occurs, car insurance protects you, anyone else involved and your car from financial costs (hospital treatments, repair or replacement of the vehicle). The Association of British Insurers (ABI) found that in 2015, 99% of all car insurance claims were successful, and in 2017 £8.1 billion was paid out on motor claims. It may seem like you’re spending a lot on car insurance, but it’s worth it if something does go wrong.
Uninsured drivers cost a lot of money – in 2017, the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB), the body that compensates victims of uninsured drivers, estimated that it would be paying out £256 million in claims.
Fines for driving without car insurance
If you are caught driving without insurance, you’ll have to pay a fixed £300 fine. Even if the car is not being driven, an uninsured car parked on the road can result in a £100 fine. You could also be charged a £20 storage charge per day and £150 collection fee to recover your car if it’s seized by police. If you’re taken to court, you could be given an unlimited fine.
Penalty points and driving bans
Failing to have car insurance can result in six to eight penalty points on your driving licence. These points stay on your driving record for 4 years. You can be disqualified from driving if you have 12 or more penalty points within three years. If you are disqualified from driving for any period longer than 56 days, you’ll need to apply for a new licence and may be required to retake your test. It may affect the cost of car insurance in the future as you need to disclose to your insurance provider that you have penalty points for the next five years (after receiving them).
Seizing and destroying your car
The police have the authority to seize and destroy the vehicle, even if it does not belong to you. 145,000 uninsured cars were seized by the police in 2016, and 58,000 of these were crushed. This is a rate of more than 1,000 cars being destroyed every week.
The car may be destroyed if insurance is not purchased within a set time limit, which is 7 days, and the car must be collected within 14 days or it may be crushed or sold at an auction. You cannot reclaim your car if you only have a one-day insurance policy – it’s required that you have a minimum of 30 days insurance cover to reclaim the car.
Are there any cases when cars do not need to be insured?
If your car is declared as SORN, it means you should not drive it and should keep it in a garage, your driveway or on private land. There are also exceptions if your car has been scrapped, stolen or exported with notice, if it's between registered keepers or dealers and is registered as ‘in trade’ with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
If you're not sure whether your car is insured or not, for example your policy might have ended, head over to our guide on how to check if your car is insured.