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.
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. (Remember that SORNing your car doesn't cancel your car insurance, though.)
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
And you can’t transfer car insurance to a new owner, either. You’ll need to sort out your own cover.
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.
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:
Buy a longer-term insurance policy from when your short-term cover runs out.
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. 📱
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).
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.
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.
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:
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.
Updated on 17th July 2020