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Is my car insured? How to run a car insurance check

Driving without a valid car insurance policy is illegal. You could be fined £300 and get six penalty points, so if you’re not sure whether you’re insured, this guide will explain how to check car insurance to be sure you’re on the right side of the law.

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You can see if a car is insured by doing some simple checks. Find out how.

How can I check if a car is insured?

An easy way to check vehicle insurance is through the Motor Insurance Database (MID) online. You will be able to check if your car is insured by entering the vehicle’s number plate, and declaring that you're the owner or registered keeper of the car.

The MID is the only centralised database of motor insurance policy information for all insured vehicles, and is also used by the police to run car insurance checks.

When you check if a vehicle is insured bear in mind all insurance companies must be members of the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB). This means they are required to add all policies to the database. It’s updated 365 days per year, but if you’ve just purchased an insurance policy your car may not appear on the database straight away, so give it a few hours to catch up.

How to check if your car is insured

If you haven't purchased an insurance policy for your car, the chances are it's not insured.

Car insurance isn't transferable when cars are sold, so you or your employers – if you are driving a company car – are required to take out your own policy when buying a car. 

Some car dealers will offer short-term or temporary insurance when you buy a new car — this will cover you for a limited period (usually up to a week) until you purchase your own car insurance policy.

Who am I insured with? How to run a  car insurance check

With most of us holding more than one type of insurance policy, it can be easy to forget who you’re insured with. 

Fortunately, if you can’t remember your insurance company  there are several ways to find out:

  • Check your bank statements: look for any payments to an insurance company

  • Check your emails: run a search for ‘car insurance’ to see whether you have correspondence from your car insurer. It’s worth checking spam and trash folders too

  • Retrieve a quote: if you’ve used a comparison site to run a quote, see if you can log back in and look it up

  • Lodge a Subject Access Request: you can do this through the MIB, but you may be charged a fee

When does my car insurance run out?

You can check your car insurance renewal date by locating your insurance documents. These should inform you of when your car insurance expires. Alternatively, if you know who your insurance provider is you can always contact them to ask. 

Your insurer may also send out a reminder a month before your current insurance term expires, so check your emails carefully in case there are any messages you’ve overlooked. Don’t forget to check your spam or trash folders too.  

What car insurance cover do I need?

Since continuous insurance enforcement (CIE) came into force in the UK in 2011, all cars must have a minimum of third party insurance cover to be road-legal. This will cover you for injury or damage caused to others but won’t cover you for damage to your own vehicle.

You will still need insurance even if your vehicle is not being used, unless you declare it off-road with a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN). If you don’t have insurance or a SORN, you’re risking a fine and prosecution.

Note that you won’t be able to drive your car on public roads, including car parks, if you have declared it off-road, and you’ll need to keep it parked in a garage, on a driveway or on private property.

What happens if my car is not insured?

If you are found to be driving without insurance, you can get a £300 fine and six penalty points on your driving licence.

In the worst case, you could end up going to court, face an unlimited fine and be disqualified from driving. The police are also allowed to seize, and in some cases, destroy a vehicle that is being driven uninsured.

How to check vehicle insurance - does my insurance renew automatically?

If you previously bought an insurance policy for your car and are not sure if you are still covered, it is possible that your policy has renewed automatically.

Most insurers will send you a renewal notice just before your 12-month insurance period ends. But if you don’t take action before the policy expires, your insurer may automatically renew your cover. If you think this has happened, contact your insurer and check your bank statements to see if any payments have been made in the past year.

If your policy has automatically renewed, make a note of the expiry date for future reference so that you can shop around for car insurance in good time. 

Automatically renewing your policy is often more expensive so it pays to make sure you get the best quotes for car insurance in advance and avoid sorting your insurance at the last minute.

Some motorists have also been known to buy a new car insurance policy with a different provider without realising that their old policy has automatically renewed. This has resulted in two separate policies on the one car. As well as potentially causing complications in the event of a claim, this also means the policyholder is paying more than they should be.

Who can drive my car?

Just because you’ve used an insurance checker and have found out your vehicle is insured, this doesn’t mean anyone can drive it. 

Insurance policies cover drivers not cars, so before letting someone loose behind the steering wheel, check that your policy allows other motorists with comprehensive cover in their own right to drive your car. If not, you will need to add them to your policy as a named driver.

Am I still insured if my car is written off?

If your car is written off, ownership is effectively transferred to your car insurance provider. You will then receive a  pay-out equivalent to the value of the vehicle if it were sold in its pre-accident condition. This is known as a settlement.

If you want to drive another car, even on a temporary basis, you would need to check with your insurance company.

Can I drive an uninsured car with my insurance?

No, any car that is driven on a UK road needs to be covered by insurance, with a minimum of third party cover. Always check the car insurance status of any vehicle you intend to drive

Can I check if my car is taxed and has an MOT?

Even if you take the steps to check if your car is insured, you should also make sure you have road tax and a valid MOT. 

You can check if a car is taxed and has a valid MOT certificate by using the government’s free car check service. You can find out if a vehicle is currently taxed or registered as off-road (SORN) just by entering the registration number. 

Aside from telling you whether the car has been taxed, and when the tax expires, you will also find out when the next MOT test is due. It also gives the vehicle make and when it was first registered.

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