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Stay insured: new penalties for motor vehicles without insurance

The new vehicle insurance law means that the registered keeper of a vehicle must keep it insured unless they've made a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). If you're not insured and haven't made a SORN, you could face a penalty. Find out what the change in the law means for you.

The new vehicle insurance law - don't be caught out

If you're the registered keeper of a vehicle, it must be insured at all times.

The exceptions are:

  • if you have made a SORN for the vehicle
  • if your vehicle has been kept off-road since before SORN came into force on 31 January 1998 – unless it was brought back into use
  • if your vehicle is recorded as stolen, passed or sold to the motor trade or between registered keepers
  • if your vehicle is recorded scrapped or permanently exported by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing (DVLA)

What will happen if your vehicle doesn't have insurance

From the end of June 2011 Insurance Advisory Letters (IAL) will be issued by the Motor Insurers' Bureau to the registered keepers of uninsured vehicles. This will be following a check of the Motor Insurance Database (MID) - the UK's central record of vehicle insurance. The IAL will advise the registered keeper that their vehicle appears to have no insurance and what actions to take to avoid receiving a fixed penalty from DVLA.

If a vehicle does not have insurance, the registered keeper could:

  • receive a fixed penalty of £100
  • have their vehicle wheel-clamped, impounded, or destroyed 
  • face a court prosecution, with a possible maximum fine of £1000

Payment of a penalty does not replace the need for motor insurance.

How to avoid a penalty

The details of all insured vehicles should be on the MID. You can check that your motor insurance details are on the database and are correct by following the link below.

Check your vehicle is insured - askMID

If the details aren't correct, or are not on the database, you should contact your insurer immediately. Only your insurer can update the MID's information.

If not already insured:

  • insure your vehicle immediately
  • make a SORN, if the vehicle is not used on the road
  • notify DVLA if you are no longer the registered keeper

Failure to take one of these actions will result in a £100 penalty.

Could you be breaking the law?

The change in the law means, you will only be able to take your vehicle off the road and cancel your insurance by returning your tax disc to DVLA.

It must be returned on a V14 (application form for a refund of a tax disc) and SORN declared at the same time.

How does this law affect a vehicle used only in the summer?

If you have a vehicle that is still taxed but not insured, you could face a penalty. This includes vintage and classic cars, motorbikes and motor homes – all vehicles that people sometimes leave uninsured for part of the year. If this applies to you, you need to return the tax disc on a V14 (including nil value discs) and declare SORN at the same time.

Are vintage/classic cars affected?

If you have a vehicle that was manufactured before 1 January 1973 that has a 'nil value tax disc' it is still considered by DVLA as taxed. If your vehicle is taxed it therefore must be insured unless you return your tax disc on a V14 and declare SORN at the same time.

How does this affect pre-SORN vehicles?

Vehicles which have been kept off-road since before SORN came into force on 31 January 1998 are exempt from this law. If they are brought back into use they will no longer be exempt. If you want to bring the vehicle back into use, you will need to tax and insure it. Follow the link below to do this.

What if you have a personalised registration on your vehicle?

You should inform your insurance company if you change the registration number of your vehicle. If you do not you could receive an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) to say your vehicle is shown as uninsured.

Why would someone receive a letter about a vehicle they no longer have?

When the vehicle record was compared to the MID, they were shown as the registered keeper. This is why the letter was issued. The IAL will explain what action needs to be taken to notify change of keeper. Follow the links below if you no longer have the vehicle.

What if I am moving abroad and taking my vehicle?

If the vehicle will be abroad for less than six months your vehicle is still subject to UK motoring laws and would need to be insured.

If permanently moving abroad, follow the link below for further details.

Does this change affect the Off Road Register?

Off road bikes and construction machinery on the Off Road Register are not affected by the change in the law. If they are later registered for use on the public road they will be affected by the change.

Where does the new law apply?

The new law will apply in England, Scotland and Wales. It will not apply in Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Points to remember

To summarise if your vehicle is on the road it must be taxed and insured at all times or you may face a penalty.

If your vehicle is:

  • taxed and insured – you do not need to do anything until your tax and insurance runs out
  • taxed and uninsured - you must insure your vehicle or make a refund application with a SORN declaration to DVLA if your vehicle is off-road
  • not taxed and uninsured – you must make a SORN and keep the vehicle off the road
  • not taxed and insured – you must make a SORN and keep your vehicle off the road

Getting the best insurance deal

You can get expert tips and advice on reducing your insurance costs from the Stay Insured website. Follow the link below to find out more.  

  • Source Direct Gov
  • Last Updated: 06 Jan 2012