Can You Drive A Car Without Insurance?
Every car on UK roads requires insurance by law, and driving a vehicle without it can result in a fixed penalty of six points on your licence and a fine of £300. This can be even higher in some cases, so it’s worth knowing the dos and don’ts of driving without car insurance.
Read on to find out how the police check each vehicle for car insurance, what you need to do if your car is uninsured and how to claim after an incident with an uninsured driver.
Consequences of driving without insurance
Thanks to the Road Traffic Act of 1930, you need to have at least third party insurance when you’re driving or parked on public roads. This is the most basic level of insurance you can have, which only covers the costs of repairs and compensation for the other driver if you were to blame.
Police use registration recognition cameras to check whether a car is insured or not. If you’re caught driving without insurance as well as being liable for the mentioned fixed fines, you could be taken to court where you could face an unlimited fine and possibly disqualification from driving.
The police also have the power to seize the uninsured vehicle, even if it doesn’t belong to you, as well as destroy it.
What if someone else has insurance, can I drive their car?
It doesn’t matter if the car is insured, because if you’re not insured to drive it then you’re committing an offence. As a result, you can be given the fixed penalty and potentially be summoned to court. Not only that, so too can the owner of the vehicle if they knowingly let an uninsured driver use their vehicle.
If you want/need to drive someone else’s car then you need to make sure you are insured to do so. Fully comprehensive cover can often include DOC (driving others cars) but don’t assume as such – check your policy. Equally if you’re letting someone else drive your car first check they are insured to do so!
Remember: even if you are covered by your policy to drive other cars it will likely only be third party insurance, so it may be worth taking out better temporary insurance on the vehicle if it’s going to be expensive to repair/replace.
There can be times where you’re stopped by the police for driving without insurance, but you have a ‘special reason’ for doing so. This can mean you’re not punished as harshly.
These reasons include:
- You have a genuine reason and evidence to support it that you’re insured. For example, it may be that the provider of your policy made an error and didn’t activate the cover properly.
- An insurer cancelled your cover without first notifying you, so you were unknowingly driving uninsured.
- You were told by the owner of a car/policyholder of the insurance for it that you can legally drive the car.
Remember: the police are likely to also take into account any other genuine reason that made you believe that you were insured. However, this is not always the case.
When don’t I need insurance?
There are scenarios where you can legally have a car which isn’t insured, but they rarely involve you being able to drive your car.
Here are four occasions where it’s legal to own an uninsured car.
1. Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)
Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) is when you declare to the DVLA that you’re taking a vehicle off the road and will no longer be driving it publicly.
To do this you can either use the government’s online form, phone the DVLA or notify the DVLA by post. However, if the vehicle is not registered in your name you can only notify the DVLA by post.
Once your vehicle is declared as SORN, you’ll need to keep it off public roads by storing it in your garage, parking it on your drive or keeping it on private land. If you’d like to use your vehicle again in the future, you’ll need to retax and reinsure the vehicle.
Remember: although insurance isn’t required for SORN vehicles, you may still want insurance to cover events such as fire damage or theft.
2. Scrapped, written off, sold, stolen or exported cars
If your vehicle is scrapped, written off, sold, stolen or has been exported, you’ll need to give the insurance company notice of this change in circumstances in order for them to cancel your cover.
It’s also worth checking your policy when you do this, to see if you can get a refund on your premiums.
Remember: if you’re scrapping your vehicle you’ll need to notify the DVLA or you may be fined up to £1000 if you fail to do so.
3. When your car is between dealers/held in stock
If you’ve ordered a vehicle that you’ve paid for outright/on finance or you’re leasing a car and are still waiting for it to be delivered to you, you won’t need to insure it until the delivery date.
However, you can arrange for insurance to start from a date in the future. So it’s worthwhile shopping around for cover in the weeks before your new motor is delivered in order to get the best deal.
Remember: check if your lease car needs insurance because if you’re leasing a car that comes with ‘complete care’ or ‘total care’, insurance may come inclusive with the deal.
4. Driving on private land
As long as the land you’re on can’t be accessed by the public, you can drive without insurance.
However, although the law mentions about not driving in public places without cover, the term ‘public’ is broader than you may think. So, it’s worth checking where you’re planning to drive is truly private before doing so.
Here are some examples of areas which could catch you out:
- Private car parks and campsites which can still be accessed by the public.
- Private estates that have public access.
- Farm land that has public access.
Unless you have a gated driveway where you have to give people permission to enter, for example, it’s not worth the risk.
What should I do if I’m hit by an uninsured driver?
While it’s an unfortunate and rare scenario to be hit by an uninsured driver, it’s best to be prepared for it just in case.
In normal circumstances, where both parties involved in a crash are insured, you’d swap insurance details. However, someone who isn’t insured may refuse to tell you or admit that they’re not covered.
If this is the case, you should report the incident to the police and there are different timescales for doing so depending on the situation.
- If the incident resulted in personal injury, you should notify the police within 14 days.
- If there was damage to property, including your car, you should notify them within five days.
Once you’ve notified the police, you will then need to make a claim to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). The MIB was set up in 1946 and is funded by insurance companies, to help compensate victims of accidents where the person at fault is uninsured or drives off. You should contact the MIB within three years of the accident taking place and you may not need to pay an excess depending on when it happened.
Sometimes the person might not be traceable by the police, which can be a financial headache. While you can still claim in these situations, you may need to pay a £300 excess for claims on property damage or extensive personal injury.
Remember: after an investigation if the MIB finds that you’re at fault or partially at fault, then your claim can be rejected or reduced depending on your level of blame.
Occasions when you can’t claim for compensation
While most of the time you’ll be able to make claims for compensation, there are a few times you won’t be able to. These are:
- When you’re a passenger in a car which you knew or should’ve known wasn’t insured.
- When you’re a passenger in a car driven by a drunk-driver.
- When the accident happened where the general public and their vehicles don’t have complete access.
Now that you know the dos and don’ts of driving without car insurance, if you’re in need of a new car then be sure to check out our latest car lease deals and sort yourself out with a brand new car today.
If you need more information about car insurance, check out our other guides.