Car off the road? You still need insurance!

Here’s the situation. You’re selling your car. It’s sitting on the driveway waiting for a buyer to come along and take it off your hands.

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The thing is, the insurance has run out and you don’t want to renew it and pay a premium on a car you won’t be using. And as the car’s being kept off the road, it doesn’t have to be insured, right?

Wrong – potentially to the tune of a £1,000 fine!

It’s been over two years since the law on Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE), which makes it illegal to own a car not declared as off the road without it being insured, came into force. And in that time over £5million worth of fines have been collected from people who have been keeping a car without insurance.

This is a great result in the on-going battle against uninsured drivers, who collectively are costing us at least £380 million every year and adding about £33 to the cost of every car insurance policy. But what if you’re unaware the law even exists? How do you avoid the risk of being caught unawares?

How CIE works

CIE came into force in June 2011, making it a legal offence to keep a vehicle without insurance unless you have notified the DVLA that your vehicle is being kept off the road by way of a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

This includes any and all vehicles, including motorbikes, that are kept on driveways or in garages, even if they’re never taken out on the road. You don’t have to be driving to be caught!

To catch uninsured drivers, the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) cross reference their data with the Motor Insurance Database (MID – where all car insurance details are logged). The details of any known insurance fraudsters will also be run against the Insurance Fraud Register.
If you’re found to be keeping a vehicle without insurance or SORN, you’ll be sent a letter warning that you’ll be fined unless you take the necessary steps – either insuring your vehicle or declaring it off road. Failure to do so will see you hit with a fixed  penalty of £100 and the possibility of further court prosecution that comes with a maximum fine of £1,000.

To make matters even worse, you’ll also have you vehicle seized and disposed of within 14 days, unless you stump the £150 plus £20 per day release fee, which will amount to £430 if you leave it for the full two weeks.

Not only that, but before your car is handed back over to you, you’ll need to show proof of your newly-taken out insurance policy – which will no doubt be all the more expensive thanks to the penalty points you’ve just received.

If you’re caught driving an uninsured vehicle then you’ll be subject to all of the above and a little more to boot. The fixed penalty is ratcheted up to £300 and you’ll also be hit with six penalty points on your licence and may even be disqualified from driving.

If you're found to be keeping a vehicle without insurance or SORN, you'll be sent a letter warning that you'll be fined unless you take the necessary steps

Is CIE working?

In addition to the £5.1million collected in fixed penalties and court fines, MIB figures show how the scheme has also contributed to a 40% reduction in the level and impact of uninsured driving.

However, it’s estimated that uninsured drivers still account for 130 road deaths and 26,500 injuries every year, so there’s still a long way to go.

So make sure you don’t become a statistic either by declaring your vehicle off the road via a SORN (you can do this via the DVLA website) or by making sure it’s insured with third party cover at the very least.

Peter Harrison, motoring expert at MoneySuperMarket said: “If you’re going to be keeping your vehicle off the road it could be worth just taking out a third party fire and theft policy that will mean you’re insured if it is stolen or damaged in a fire. But you should check every level of cover to work out the best deal for you. And the simplest way to do this is via the MoneySuperMarket car insurance channel, which will compare quotes from over 139 insurers in less than five minutes.”

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