How to check if your car is insured
Driving without insurance is illegal in the UK. If caught, you could face a heavy fine and points on your licence, and in some cases disqualification from driving all together. Even if you're not using your vehicle and it's just sitting in your driveway or garage, you may still be breaking the law by not notifying the relevant authority.
But sometimes it can be confusing knowing if you're insured to drive your car or not. Maybe you've had a policy but it's run out. Or maybe your policy has been invalidated for whatever reason. Here we will advise you on how you can check your insurance status and what you can expect if you fail to comply with DVLA regulations.
In This Guide:
- What if I am unsure whether I have car insurance?
- How do I run an insurance check?
- How do I know who my insurer is?
- What if my car doesn’t have insurance?
- Does my car need insurance if it’s not being used?
What if I am unsure whether I have car insurance?
If you have not knowingly purchased an insurance policy for your car, it’s likely that it is not insured. If you previously bought an insurance policy for your car, the policy may have renewed automatically (known as auto-renewal). Many insurers will send you a renewal notice and renew your cover if you don’t take any action. You may be missing out on the best car insurance deals if your insurance is renewed automatically, as insurance may be cheaper with other providers. It’s a good idea to search and compare different deals before your insurance renews.
You can find out whether this has happened to you by contacting your insurer or checking your bank statements to see whether any additional payments have been collected in the past year. You can also check your emails, including your junk and spam folders, to see whether you’ve received confirmation from the insurer. Your insurer should contact you to inform you of the renewal of your insurance policy.
How do I run an insurance check?
You can run a car insurance check using the Motor Insurer’s Database (MID). The MID is the only centralised database of motor insurance policy information for all insured vehicles. All insurers must be members of the MIB and are required to add policies to the database. It’s used by the police to run car insurance checks. If you forget to insure your car, the MID will intervene by sending you a letter with information on how to get your car insured.
To run the check, you need the car’s registration number and must declare that you are the owner or registered keeper of the car. If you have recently purchased a car insurance policy, your car may not appear on the database immediately. The search is quick, easy, and free to run, and it will tell you whether the car is insured as well as the make and model of the car. Visit the MID’s website to run the check: https://ownvehicle.askmid.com/
How do I know who my insurer is?
Life is busy and you can’t be expected to remember all the fine details. So, if you forget who your insurance provider is, then once again, don’t despair. To track down your insurer’s name, you can check:
- Any policy documentation that you may have filed
- Your email history for correspondence
- Your credit card or bank statements for a reference name
If you don’t have access to any of the above, there’s one certain way that you can get the information you need. When running an insurance check with the MID, there is an optional £4 fee for additional information such as the insurance provider’s name and general policy details.
What if my car doesn’t have insurance?
If an uninsured car is registered in your name, the MIB will send you an Insurance Advisory letter advising that you will be penalised if you don’t insure the vehicle with immediate effect. If you fail to comply, then you could be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £100. If you ignore this warning and fail to pay the penalty (and fail to insure your vehicle), then you will risk prosecution. Your car may even be seized and destroyed.
And there’s more.
If you are caught driving an uninsured vehicle on any public road, you could get a fine of £300. You may also get marked with 6 penalty points against your name - with the possibility of a total driving ban and an unlimited fine if your case goes to court.
Failure to insure your car can be regarded an IN10 offence. If this shows up on your record, then it may hinder your chances of qualifying for cheap car insurance in the future.
Does my car need insurance if it’s not being used?
If a car is not being used, it’s subject to statutory off-road notification (SORN). You can declare your car as SORN if you do not plan on driving it or it’s not roadworthy, so you do not need to set up a car insurance policy. This informs the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that you will not be driving your car and you are declaring it as off the road. Once it’s declared as SORN, it cannot be driven or parked on a public road. It must be kept in a garage, your driveway or on private land.
This can save you money as you will not need to tax or insure your car until you use it again. For example, if you are a student who is going to university and leaving your car at home. You’ll also get a refund for any full months of remaining tax. To apply for a SORN, contact the DVLA online, by phone or by post. You cannot use the car on the road until you tax it again and have car insurance.
There are some other scenarios where you may be exempt from paying car insurance, including:
- Your vehicle has been “scrapped” and is recorded as such
- Your vehicle has been stolen and remains unrecovered
- Your car has been recorded as 'disposed to the trade'
- Your car has been exported
- It’s a vehicle owned by the crown
You can contact the DVLA to enquire about the status of your vehicle and if it qualifies from being exempt from car insurance and car tax.