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. 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. In this guide, we tell you what to do if you're not sure you have car insurance or not, and how to find out if you do.
In This Guide:
- How do I run an insurance check?
- What if I am unsure whether I have car insurance?
- Short-term insurance
- Does my car need insurance if it’s not being used?
- If the car is insured, can anyone drive it?
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. It’s a free search and will tell you whether the car is insured and the make and model of the car. There is a £4 fee for additional details such as the insurance provider’s name and general policy details. Visit the MID’s website to run the check: https://ownvehicle.askmid.com/
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.
Some car dealers offer ‘driveaway insurance’, which covers you for a short period of time until you buy your own car insurance policy. This can be beneficial if you want to test drive a car before you buy it, or if you have just purchased a car and need insurance to drive straight away.
A better solution might be short-term insurance, which can be used to cover you while you look for the right insurance policy. It can be a cheaper car insurance option than being added to someone’s policy or adding a name to your own. It’s also useful for borrowing someone’s car or lending them yours, or a long road trip where you’ll take turns to drive. Short term insurance policies generally cover you for 1-28 days, but some last for up to 90 days. Most insurance providers are willing to provide this to drivers over the age of 18 and under 75, but some don’t cover those under 21.
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.
If the car is insured, can anyone drive it?
Insurance policies cover drivers rather than cars, so you need your own car insurance policy before you can drive the car. Most standard policies do not cover someone if they borrow your car, or if you use theirs. You can add people as drivers to your policy, but you cannot transfer your car insurance policy to someone else.
Additional drivers should only be added if they drive the car occasionally – you should be the main driver. Adding a named driver can make your car insurance cheaper because the time spent on the road is shared, so the likelihood of having an accident and needing to make a claim is lower.