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Is My Car Insured?

Is my car insured? Here’s how you can find out

Car insurance is a legal requirement – even if your car just sits in the garage – unless your vehicle has been declared off the road

By Mehdi Punjwani

Published: 20 May 2020

Lady driving a car

Looking for car insurance?

If you’re not sure if your car is insured, for example if your policy may have expired or you’re in the process of selling your vehicle, then it’s easy to check.

All cars must be insured with at least third-party cover -and if you’re a car owner this is your legal responsibility. Your car must have year-round insurance, even if it’s not being used, unless your car has been declared off the road.

How can I check if my car is insured?

It’s quick and easy to find out if your car is insured – just use the free Motor Insurance Database (MID) to check if your vehicle is on the list. You will need to enter your registration number and declare you are authorised to drive the car. The MID is the UK’s central record of motor insurance, which holds information on every car on the road. It’s also used by the police to identify uninsured vehicles. If you are not using your car and you don’t want to pay for insurance, you need to officially declare the vehicle  ‘off the road’ via a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) or you could be fined up to £1,000.

How do I find out who my car is insured with?

It’s possible to forget when your renewal date is or the name of your insurance provider, but you will need the policy number for your existing car insurance before buying a new policy.

If you can’t remember who your provider is, or have mislaid your policy documentation, check your emails, credit card or bank statements - depending on how you paid for your car insurance - to track down the provider’s name. That way you can call them up to retrieve your information.

What are the penalties if my car is uninsured?

If you’re found to be keeping a car without insurance, even if it’s in a garage, the Motor Insurers Bureau will send you an Insurance Advisory letter advising that you will be fined if you don’t insure the vehicle or declare it SORN. 

If this is ignored, you’ll receive a fixed penalty notice of £100. You may also be at risk of prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000, and your car could even be seized and destroyed.

What is Continuous Insurance Enforcement?

The government introduced Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) in 2011 to clamp down on uninsured drivers. The MID and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) work together to compare records and identify offending vehicles.

Before this, only uninsured drivers using their cars on the road were breaking the law, but CIE means that even stationary vehicles must be insured unless they have been declared off the road.  

Are there any exemptions?

You will not have to pay for car insurance if you have officially declared your car to be off the road via a SORN by informing the DVLA. When you do this, you’ll automatically get a refund of your road tax for any full remaining calendar months unused.

The only other exemptions are if the car has been reported stolen, recorded as scrapped or between registered keepers or registered as ‘in trade’ with the DVLA.

How can I avoid a penalty?

If your car is currently uninsured, then to avoid a penalty, you need to either insure it immediately, notify the DVLA that you are no longer the registered keeper or declare the vehicle off the road via a SORN.

How can I get cheaper car insurance?

We know car insurance can be a considerable expense, but it's a legal requirement. It’s better to pay for it than end up with a large fine, a court prosecution or be without a car after it’s destroyed.

It is possible to save money by shopping around and comparing policies on MoneySuperMarket to make sure you’re getting the cheapest car insurance deal for your circumstances. Just pop in a few details about yourself and your car and we’ll put together quotes to match your requirements.

For more ways to lower the cost of car insurance, take a look at our money saving tips

Looking for car insurance?