Registered keeper: what it means, and how it affects your car insurance

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What registered keeper means
Getting insured if you're not the registered keeper
Registered keeper vs. main driver
Checking and changing the registered keeper

One of the more confusing bits of insurance jargon is “registered keeper”. It crops up a lot when you’re trying to buy car insurance.

Here’s what it means.

The registered keeper can be different to the owner

Every car has an owner. That’s the person who bought it, or was given it.

But the owner might not be the registered keeper.

The registered keeper is the person who looks after the car. That means they pay for road tax, MOT and any services.

There are lots of reasons the owner of the car might not be the registered keeper. A good example is company cars.

Even though the company technically owns the car, you’re the person who does all the driving. And you would be responsible for a lot of the costs you might run up by driving it. Like parking tickets, for example.

Because of this, you’d be the registered keeper.

Getting car insurance if you’re not the registered keeper

It’s usually pretty straightforward to get insured on a car you don’t own. There are lots of ways to do that.

But getting insured on a vehicle without being the registered keeper can be a bit trickier.

When you get a car insurance quote, you’ll usually be asked both questions: “Are you the registered keeper of the vehicle?” and “Are you the owner of the vehicle?”

Different insurers will have different approaches when it comes to insuring non-owners and non-registered keepers. Some of them will insure non-owners but not non-registered-keepers, others will only insure owners.

If you’re not the registered keeper of the car, or the owner, and you do manage to get insured on it, you might find the price goes up a little bit.

(The exception here is if you’re married. Insurers don’t tend to care whether you’re the registered keeper or the owner, as long as you’re married to them.)

(And this doesn’t apply if you’re buying temporary car insurance. You don’t need to be the owner or the registered keeper for that. It’s sort of the point.)

The difference between “registered keepers” and “main drivers” on car insurance

Here’s where things get even more confusing.

Every car insurance policy has a “main driver”. This has to be the person who does most of the driving.

To get someone else insured on that car, you have to add them as a “named driver”. The main driver has to drive the car more often than the named driver. If they don’t, it counts as a type of fraud called “fronting”.

But the main driver doesn’t necessarily have to be the owner or the registered keeper. This is pretty common for married couples.

If you’re married, one of you can own the car and be the registered keeper. But if your spouse drives the car more often than you do, they’ll need to be listed as the “main driver”.

If the person who does the bulk of the driving changes, you'll need to tell your insurer.

Registered keepers and the V5C document

The car’s registered keeper is listed in the car’s “registration documents”, or V5C. But the V5C doesn’t tell you the owner is. (That’s why it’s not proof that you own the car.)

If you want to change the registered keeper of the car, you can use the V5C document.

Checking the registered keeper of a car

You can find out who the registered keeper of a car is, if you have a good reason for finding out. Say, if their car bumped into you, and you need to track them down to make an insurance claim.

But it’s not the easiest process in the world. To check the registered keeper of a car, you’ll have to fill in a form or two.

Changing registered keeper

You can also make someone else the registered keeper of a car. You can tell the DVLA your car has a new registered keeper online.

Updated on 18th December 2019

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