Service station – you ask, we answer

Have you got a question about cars? Are you distressed over your no claims discount? Or troubled by car tax?
If so, you’ve come to the right place - each week Service Station will be answering a selection of questions asked via the comments section of the motoring blog and the MoneySuperMarket forum.

Car tax and off road vehicles

My car was in an accident in December and is still at the garage undergoing repair (the other driver was at fault) - can I claim back the car tax for the period my vehicle was off the road if I can prove that it was off road being repaired? Should I have declared SORN the moment it was taken away?

Lee Smeaton, January 8, 2015

Hi Lee, I got this back from DVLA – it looks like, as you thought, you have to declare SORN straight away… “It may be helpful if we begin by explaining that any entitlement to a refund of unexpired vehicle excise licences does not hinge on whether a vehicle was actually used or not over a specified period of time. Evidence of non-use, no matter how reliable, cannot, therefore, be accepted by the Agency. “A refund can only be paid for each complete calendar month unexpired at the date when the licence was surrendered. There is no facility to claim a refund in retrospect on the basis that a vehicle was not used. “Without this safeguard the system for claiming refunds would be open to serious abuse. It is only by administering the scheme strictly that we are able to keep fraudulent claims to a minimum. The procedures we use have been in place for many years and have been widely accepted, mainly because they are unambiguous and have been equally and, therefore, fairly applied to everybody. Whilst I fully sympathise with your circumstances, the law is in fact quite specific on the payment of refunds and there is no discretion available to the Agency on such matters.”

How do no claims discounts work?

car insurance img
I was involved in accident over a year ago and wasn’t at fault. I have now changed my insurance company and wanted to cover my 5 year no claims discount (NCD) but had to prove accident wasn’t my fault. I have sent a letter to the new insurer over email but was hit again from behind before they got the letter - will they still protect my NCD or have I lost it now? I really don’t know how it all works. =(

Claire, January 8, 2015

Hi Claire, As long as you were not at fault for either of the accidents and never claimed on your insurance your no claims discount (NCD) entitlement shouldn’t be affected. However, you will have to declare both accidents when getting insurance quotes in future and although this won’t affect your NCD entitlement, it could affect the price of your policy, so be sure to shop around for cover at renewal. I have just bought a new car and went online to get a quote for it and was quoted a price, but the insurance company is now saying the no claims discount (NCD) I have is not acceptable as it was built up on another car (which is now sold) and that no claims discount  is only built up on the car being insured so i have to start from scratch! Is this correct? It seems unfair to me.

Nick, January 7, 2015

Hi Nick, That is not correct at all – you build up your No Claims Discount (NCD) entitlement with each year of claim-free driving and this can then be used to get a discount on your premium with whatever insurer you choose to go with and whatever vehicle you choose to insure. The amount of discount you get can vary depending upon the insurer, but what they are telling you is completely wrong. You you should send a letter of complaint (as per the insurer’s complaints procedure) and if you’re not satisfied with the outcome you should take it to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Death of Tax disc – how will the new tax disc rules affect you?

UK road tax disc
Hi, I’m picking up an ex-demonstrator car on the 29th of this month, and as you have told other people I have to tax it myself before I drive it away. The big question is: will I lose 4 week’s tax or can the garage do anything to help with this? Or am I best to wait a few days before collection, for instance, until the 31st or the 1st to pick the car up, can you advise?

Adele, January 9, 2015

Hi Adele, When you tax a vehicle part-way through the month, you still pay for that month in full – this was the case before the new tax disc rules came into effect but wasn’t widely recognised as tax was often transferred with the sale of the vehicle. Here’s the official DVLA line on the matter: “It has been a long standing feature that vehicle tax is issued from the first of each month and refunds are issued for only the complete calendar months remaining. This did not change following the abolition of the tax disc. Anyone buying a vehicle will always need to tax it. This provides clarity to motorists on what their responsibility is and protects them from inadvertently driving an untaxed vehicle. It is a requirement under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (as amended) for vehicle tax to commence from the beginning of the month in which it first has effect. Therefore, in answer to your question, if you purchase the vehicle on 29th January the vehicle will need to be taxed immediately before it can be used on the road. The vehicle tax will start from 1st January.” Also, as soon as you are registered as the new owner via the V5 certificate, you take responsibility for taxing the vehicle. So even if you leave the car at the garage, once the ownership has been transferred to you, you have to tax it. The only way around this is to complete a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) and then tax the vehicle when you’re ready to drive it. It’s worth remembering also that if you don’t declare the car off-road, you still have to have it insured, even if you’re not using it. You can read more on continuous insurance enforcement (CIE) here. Got a question? Leave a comment, get in touch via the motoring forum or on Twitter using the hashtag #servicestation.

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