Why you need insurance to drive a new car home

There’s no “grace period” when it comes to car insurance. Unless your car is “off-road” (more on that later), you need to be covered.
By Team member, 07/17/20204 minutes read

There’s no “grace period” when it comes to car insurance. Unless your car is “off-road” (more on that later), you need to be covered.

If you haven’t got a full insurance policy set up by the time you buy your car, your best bet is to get temporary, drive-away car insurance.

Here’s how it all works.

You need insurance as soon as you buy the car

Your car always needs insurance, unless you “declare it off-road”. To do that you need to register a Statutory Off-Road Notification, or SORN.

You’re not allowed to drive a SORN car, unless you’re off to get an MOT (but make sure your insurance covers it first). So generally, if you’re behind the wheel, you need insurance.

If you can’t get a full insurance policy sorted out before you buy the car (maybe because you don’t have the right documents yet), or if you just don’t want the hassle yet, you can get a temporary car insurance policy.

This means you’ll be covered - usually comprehensively - for as long as you need.

Before you buy short-term insurance, though, there are a few things you need to check.

1. That it’s comprehensive. If your insurance isn’t comprehensive, you’ll only be covered for injuries to other people and damage to other cars - not your own.

2. Underlying policy restrictions. Some insurers only let you buy a temporary car insurance policy if there’s a full, underlying policy.

That’s fine for borrowing someone else’s car, but it’s less useful if you’re the owner.

Cuvva’s temporary car insurance policies are comprehensive, and the car doesn’t need an underlying policy.

If you buy through a dealership, insurance might be included

If you’re buying a new car from a dealership, they might throw in insurance for the drive home. They usually have a deal with a temporary car insurance company that covers every car they sell. (These policies usually last for 7 days.)

But this isn’t always the case, so make sure you double-check. And make sure you get all the official paperwork so you know exactly what you’re covered for when you drive home. Sometimes it’s only third-party insurance that’s included.

If they don’t include insurance, you’ll need to get your own policy.

But if you buy it second-hand from a person, you’ll need to buy a policy

If you’re buying someone’s second-hand car, rather than getting a new car from a dealership, you’ll have to get your own insurance.

Even if the person you’re buying the car off has it insured, their policy won’t cover you. (That’s why they’ll probably have cancelled their insurance by the time you buy it.)

And you can’t transfer car insurance to a new owner, either. You’ll need to sort out your own cover.

The same rules apply to test driving

Even if you’re just test driving a car, it needs insurance. Dealerships usually include it, but private sellers don’t, so you’ll need to sort out cover if you want to take it for a spin.

Sorting your insurance once you’ve got the car home

Once you’ve got the car home, you’ll need to sort out a full insurance policy. And that’s because of a couple of car insurance laws. One’s called the Road Traffic Act - that’s the one that says you have to have car insurance - and the other one is Continuous Insurance Enforcement (or CIE to its friends).

Basically, CIE means cars have to be insured all the time, not just while they’re being driven. And that means, if your temporary policy runs out, you’ll be breaking the law by leaving your car on the drive uninsured.

You’ve got three options:

1. Buy a longer-term insurance policy from when your short-term cover runs out.

2. Extend your temporary insurance.

If you need to, you can buy temporary for weeks at a time. Which can be handy if you’re not ready to sort out a full policy yet.

With Cuvva, you can extend a policy for as long as you need to through the app in a few taps. 📱

3. SORN your car.

If you “declare your car off-road”, it won’t need insurance. Just make sure you un-SORN it (and get it insured) before you drive it again (unless, like we mentioned earlier, you’re off to get it MOT’d).

You need to think about tax, too

Like insurance, your car needs to be taxed straight away.

You need car insurance to tax your car. Luckily, you can use temporary car insurance to sort out your tax.

Check if the car’s got a valid MOT (if it needs one)

Cars don’t need MOTs until they’re 3 years old. So if you’ve got proof that the car doesn’t need an MOT, you don’t need to worry about that. (There are a few other exceptions, too.)

If the car is more than three years old, make sure you double-check it’s got a valid MOT. If it doesn’t it’s not legal to drive it.

You don’t need an MOT to buy insurance.

Driving someone else’s new car home (or letting someone drive yours)

Most car insurance policies don’t include Driving Other Cars cover - and that means it only covers a specific person on a specific car.

So if you want to drive someone else’s new car home - or if you want someone else to drive your car home - you’ll need temporary car insurance. You can get covered for as little as an hour.

Before you buy short-term cover, make sure you double-check that:

  • The insurer doesn’t need you to have an underlying policy
  • You don’t need to have a specific relationship to the owner

You don’t need either of those things with Cuvva. But some insurance companies have specific rules about it.

Before you buy a car, use our free car checker to make sure you know exactly what you're buying.

Team member

Team member

Cuvva is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. (#690273)