Understanding impounded car insurance

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What is impound insurance?
Eligibility and restrictions
How to get

Imagine this: you've parked your car and are going about your day, only to return and find it's vanished. The sinking realisation hits – your car has been impounded. It's a scenario no one wishes to face, yet it's more common than you might think. This is where impound insurance comes into play. Here’s how it works 👇

What is impound insurance?

Impound insurance, sometimes known as compound insurance, is a specialised form of temporary car insurance designed for drivers whose vehicles have been seized and impounded. Unlike standard car insurance, which covers your vehicle under normal circumstances, impound insurance kicks in to cover vehicles that have found themselves on the wrong side of a car impound's fence.

Annual car insurance policies typically do not cover retrieving cars from an impound due to their standard risk assessments and terms, which exclude high-risk scenarios such as impoundment. These policies are designed for broader, long-term coverage and do not meet the specific requirements set by impound lots.

Can you get your car out of an impound without insurance?

Nope, you can’t legally get your car out of an impound without insurance. You can’t retrieve your car unless you can prove it has valid insurance for at least 30 days before it can be released from impoundment - and because your standard annual insurance probably won’t cover it, you need other insurance.

The reason for the 30-day policy requirement is straightforward yet critical: it ensures that vehicles are not immediately impounded again for lacking proper insurance once they leave the lot.

Temporary vs. additional impound insurance

There are primarily two ways to insure your car in order to get it back from an impound: additional cover to your usual policy, or temporary impound insurance.

Additional cover acts as an add-on to your existing annual policy, providing the necessary cover to retrieve your vehicle. It's worth checking with your insurer if impound cover is already included in your standard policy, or if it can be added on.

On the other hand, temporary impound insurance is a standalone policy, tailored specifically for the purpose of releasing your car from the pound. It's designed to fill the gap left by standard annual or temporary car insurance, which typically does not cover impounded vehicles.

Car impound fees can rack up unless you can get your car out quickly
Car impound fees can rack up unless you can get your car out quickly
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Eligibility and restrictions

Owners and registered keepers

In most cases, you must be the legal owner or registered keeper of the vehicle in question. This ensures that the insurance policy is tied directly to the individual responsible for the vehicle. You also must have a valid driving licence.

The V5C document, also known as the vehicle logbook, is typically required to demonstrate ownership. This documentation ensures that the insurance policy and vehicle release are legally compliant, aligning with the overarching goal of impound insurance: to responsibly return vehicles to their rightful owners under lawful circumstances.

Age matters

Age restrictions also play a significant role in determining eligibility for impound insurance. Generally, insurers set a minimum age limit – often 21 years old - but some providers might offer coverage to younger drivers under specific conditions, albeit potentially at higher premiums.

On the flip side, there's usually an upper age limit too, which typically caps at 75 years old. These age limits ensure that the policyholders fall within a risk bracket that insurance providers are prepared to cover.

Learner drivers and named drivers

Learner drivers face unique challenges when it comes to impound insurance. While it's possible for learners to obtain cover, they cannot retrieve the vehicle by themselves. They must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver who meets certain criteria – typically over 25 years old. This requirement underscores the importance of not only having insurance but also ensuring that the vehicle is driven responsibly upon release from the pound.

Adding an named, or additional, driver to an impound insurance policy is a rare and often complex affair. Most policies are designed with a single driver in mind – the vehicle's owner.

However, unique circumstances might necessitate adding another driver to the policy. If you find yourself in such a situation, direct communication with your insurance provider is key.

They can offer guidance and, if possible, tailor the policy to meet your specific needs, although this might affect the policy's cost.

Step-by-step guide to getting impound insurance

Finding your vehicle impounded can be a stressful ordeal, but reclaiming it doesn't have to be. By understanding the process, required documents, and potential fees involved, you can navigate the recovery of your vehicle with greater ease and confidence. Let's walk through the step-by-step process to get your car back from the pound.

Step 1: Gather the necessary documents

Before you can reclaim your vehicle, you'll need to compile a set of essential documents. These typically include:

  • Proof of insurance: A valid insurance policy that covers impound release is crucial. This document proves that your vehicle is insured to be driven away from the pound.
  • Proof of identity: A valid photo ID, such as a passport or driver's licence, to verify your identity.
  • Proof of vehicle ownership: The vehicle's logbook (V5C) is required to prove ownership. If you're a new owner and the logbook hasn't been updated yet, the new keeper supplement (V5C/2) will be needed.
  • Valid MOT certificate: For vehicles older than three years, a current MOT certificate is necessary to ensure the vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards.

Step 2: Understanding the fees involved Impound fees can vary, but generally, there's a release fee and a daily storage fee to consider. The release fee is a one-time charge to reclaim your vehicle, while the storage fee accrues for each day your vehicle remains in the pound. It's important to act quickly to minimise these costs.

Step 3: Contact the impound lot Before heading to the impound lot, it's wise to contact them first. This ensures that your vehicle is ready for release and allows you to confirm the total fees due. Some lots may require you to schedule an appointment for pickup.

Step 4: Pay the fees and reclaim your vehicle Once at the impound lot and after presenting all the required documents, you'll need to pay the necessary fees. Payments are typically made via card, though it's best to check with the impound lot for their accepted payment methods. After payment, you'll be able to drive your vehicle away. We’ve got a little more about costs below.

Step 5: Follow up on any legal or insurance issues After reclaiming your vehicle, ensure that any underlying issues that led to the impoundment, such as insurance or tax problems, are resolved. This prevents future occurrences and ensures your vehicle remains legally on the road.

Cars can be impounded for a variety of offences - and you need to move quickly to get yours out without a big bill
Cars can be impounded for a variety of offences - and you need to move quickly to get yours out without a big bill
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Costs and cover

When your vehicle finds itself in the unfortunate position of being impounded, navigating the costs and cover details of impound insurance is crucial. Understanding these aspects can help you make informed decisions and ensure you're adequately prepared for any situation.

How much is impounded car insurance?

The cost of impound insurance can vary significantly based on several factors, including the driver's age, driving history, and the specific reasons for the vehicle's impoundment.

Generally, impound insurance is more expensive than standard car insurance due to the perceived higher risk associated with vehicles that have been impounded. It's important to shop around and compare quotes to find the most cost-effective option for your situation.

Policy coverage

Impound insurance policies typically offer temporary coverage, usually for a period of 30 days. This aligns with the minimum requirement set by impound lots before releasing a vehicle. Coverage often includes third-party cover, which protects against damages or injuries your vehicle might cause to others while being driven from the impound lot. However, the extent of coverage can differ from one provider to another, so it's essential to read the policy details carefully.

Add-ons and exclusions

While third-party cover is standard, some policies may offer extended cover, such as fire and theft protection. However, these likely won’t cover you for business use - plus, as with all third party policies, you won’t be covered for damage to your own vehicle.

Does getting your car impounded affect your insurance in the future?

Cars are usually impounded because the driver has broken some sort of rule - perhaps driving without insurance, or parking in an area they shouldn’t.

So this indicates to future insurers that the driver is ‘risky’ and more likely to be involved in an incident. This can result in a higher premium.

It could also result in penalty points - something that also impacts premiums.

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Updated on 14th March 2024