When must your vehicle have valid insurance cover?

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When do I need cover?
Why do I need insurance?
What happens if I'm not insured
What if I’m not driving the car?
What happens if I’m selling my car?
Drive away insurance

When does my car need valid insurance cover?

Whether you’re borrowing your flatmate’s car to do the big shop, or driving your new ride home from the dealership, you must be insured.

The law is very clear: if you have a car on UK roads (even if it’s just parked on the street outside your house) you need cover.

Going without insurance could land you in serious trouble, even if it’s only for an hour. You could get an unlimited fine (let that sink in… 😱) if you’re caught driving uninsured. It’s just not worth the risk.

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Why do I need car insurance?

Car insurance is designed to protect not just you and your car, but everyone else on the road. Even though it’s against the law to have an uninsured car, lots of people chance it (or forget to renew their cover). This makes insurance more expensive for everyone else.

Every year around £500m is paid out in claims relating to uninsured driving, adding an extra £30 a year to the average car insurance policy. We all suffer when people act stupidly.

The UK’s Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) law was designed to tackle these uninsured drivers. It states that every vehicle needs to have continuous insurance, with no gaps between cover (except for a couple of exceptions, which we’ll explain in a bit).

The Motor Insurance Database keeps an online record of all the insured cars in the UK. You can use it for free to check if you are insured and who you’re currently insured with.

You must be insured whenever you drive
Never drive without car insurance
Watch out! 🚨
Driving without insurance could result in an unlimited fine.

What happens if I’m not insured?

The police can use the MID to check your insurance status at any time. If you get stopped and they find you’re uninsured, your car could be seized on the spot and you could be fined.

To get your car back, you need to get a new insurance policy sorted. You’ll then need to show a certificate of insurance to prove you are covered and pay the release charge. If you don’t do this within 14 days, the police can get rid of your car by selling or scrapping it. Ouch!

If you forget to insure your car or renew your policy, you will usually get a warning letter from the Motor Insurers Bureau (yep, an MIB as well as an MID! No-one said car insurance was simple…). Sometimes, insurance companies can put the wrong details into the MID by mistake, making it look like you don’t have insurance when you actually do. If you think this has happened, call your insurer right away.

If you don’t act on the MIB warning letter you could land a £100 fixed penalty, and your car could be seized, clamped, or destroyed. If you continue to drive without insurance, you could land up facing a court prosecution and an unlimited fine.

Do I need insurance if I’m not driving the car?

Car insurance is needed for every type of vehicle, whether it’s being actively driven or not. So even if your car is parked on your driveway or in your garage and it’s not being used, it still needs to be insured.

It’s up to the registered keeper to make sure a car is continuously insured. That means if someone else is driving your car, but you are its registered keeper, it’s your responsibility to have it insured, not theirs.

Here’s where the exceptions come in. If you have a car that isn’t being used, you can formally register it as off-the-road with the DVLA by applying for a Statutory Off Road Notification. This is known as SORN. You can SORN your car online.

What happens to my insurance if I’m selling my car?

Another exception to the CIE law is when you’re selling a car.

If your car is held in stock by an authorised dealer and registered as “in trade” with the DVLA, it does not need insurance. Cars that are between registered keepers don’t need to be insured either.

However, if your car is stolen, scrapped, or exported to another country, it’s not enough to simply cancel your insurance. You will need to notify the DVLA of this, too.

You must be insured whenever you drive
Driving without insurance? Don’t risk it

How do I insure my new car for the drive home

If you’ve just bought a new car (congrats! 🥳) you might be wondering how you can get it home if you haven’t got insurance yet. This is where drive away insurance comes in.

Some car dealers offer short term or temporary car insurance for this, but if not, you can take out your own temporary insurance policy while you get your cover sorted.

That’s right… it’s time for the plug! Cuvva offers drive away insurance for this exact situation. Policies start from as little as one hour and extend to 28 days, giving you as much or as little insurance as you need.

Cuvva’s temporary insurance is also a great way to handle any of those tricky in-between moments when you need short term cover – like when you’ve passed your driving test but still need to get your full insurance. You can sort it all from your phone in minutes and cancel at any time, so there’s no reason to ever drive illegally.

Whatever you’re after, you can get a quote here.

Updated on 3rd April 2023