If you drive your vehicle on a road or in a public place in the UK, you must legally have a car insurance policy in place.
According to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), one uninsured vehicle is seized every four minutes in the UK, plus if you don’t insure your vehicle you could face a fine and points on your licence – so it’s not worth the risk.
If you know you’ve taken a motor insurance policy out but aren’t sure when it’s due for renewal, or aren’t sure whether it’s expired, it’s your responsibility to find out. Here’s how to do it.
How do I check whether I currently have car insurance?
If you know who your insurer is, you could call it to find out whether you still have insurance in place and when your policy is set to expire. Make a note of this date in your diary so you have time to find a new policy before your current one ends.
Alternatively, if you can’t remember who you may be insured with, you can use the Motor Insurance Database’s (MID) askMID service to find out whether you currently have a valid insurance policy in place.
The MID is the central record of all insured vehicles in the UK and is used by the police and the DVLA to ensure that vehicles on the roads are insured.
To use the free service, you’ll need to enter your vehicle’s registration number and confirm that you are its owner or registered keeper.
Motor insurers in the UK are obliged to be members of the MIB and must submit policy details of all vehicles to the MID.
If you’ve recently purchased a policy, it may not show up instantly, though, as, although updates are constantly made to the database, insurers and their representatives load the data themselves, and this may not be immediate.
I thought I had insurance but can’t find my vehicle on the database – what should I do?
If you are sure that your insurance is up to date, contact your insurance company to ask what has happened. It can update your record on the MID.
I don’t have a car insurance policy – can I still drive my vehicle?
It is illegal to drive a vehicle on roads or in public places in the UK without a minimum of third-party insurance.
If you’re caught driving without insurance, you could be fined £300 and given six points on your licence, plus your vehicle could be seized and your case may go to court. If this happens, you could be given an unlimited fine or be disqualified from driving.
The code for penalty points on your licence for using a vehicle that is uninsured against third-party risks is IN10, and having this (or other offences) on your record could make your insurance more expensive in the future.
The MIB and DVLA also work together to identify uninsured vehicles under the continuous insurance scheme (CIE). If one is identified on the MID, the registered keeper of the vehicle will be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) with advice on the action to take.
If you don’t follow the advice in your letter, you could:
Get a fixed penalty of £100
Have your vehicle clamped, impounded or even destroyed
Face prosecution with a potential maximum fine of £1,000.
I don’t use my car – do I still need insurance?
If you take your vehicle off the road and don’t keep or use it on a public road, you can apply for a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) via gov.uk and won’t need to insure your vehicle (although you may wish to continue having insurance for the theft and vandalism protection).
You can only drive a vehicle with a SORN on a public road to go to or from a pre-booked MOT or other testing appointment. If you use your vehicle on the road for another reason, you could face court prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500.
You’ll need to get your vehicle fully insured once more if you plan to use it for any other purpose.
I do have car insurance but can’t remember who it is with – can I find out?
If you currently have car insurance but can’t remember who your policy is with, there are a number of ways you could find out including:
Running a search in your email inbox for “car insurance” – and checking your spam folder too
Looking over your bank statements to check who payments have gone out to
If you used a price-comparison site to choose your policy, you may be able to see it in your account.
If these methods don’t work, you could also fill in Data Subject Request Form for the MIB, which holds information on who you are insured with and have been insured with in the past seven years. You may need to pay a fee for this service.
Should I allow my car insurance policy to auto-renew?
If you receive a letter or email to tell you that your car insurance is about to auto-renew, it could seem like the easiest option, but you’re likely to pay extra for this convenience. The best rates are generally given to new customers, so it’s worth comparing your options if you’d like to save some cash.
When you receive your renewal notice, make a note of the date in your diary so you don’t miss it, and add a note to your diary for the following year too.
How can I reduce what I pay for car insurance?
If your car insurance is due for renewal, one of the best ways to save money on your premium is to shop around and compare a number of policies. A good place to start is on a price-comparison site where you can enter your details once and see policies side-by-side.
Other ways you could reduce what you pay for car insurance include:
getting a smaller vehicle – if you have a luxury or fast car, you’re likely to pay more to insure it
make your car more secure – as an example, could you park it in a garage overnight rather than on the street?
reduce your mileage and accurately estimate this on your policy
consider a black box/telematics policy – drivers who are seen as high-risk could potentially reduce their premiums through black box polices which monitor how you drive, and reward drivers deemed as safe
pay your premium annually rather than monthly – if you can afford to, this is usually the cheapest option overall as monthly payments may have interest added.
You could also consider choosing a higher voluntary excess amount to lower your premium – this is the amount you will have to pay towards a claim. But consider whether you’d be able to afford this, plus the insurer’s compulsory excess, in the event of a claim before committing.