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

Written by Kasey Cassells, Senior content editor

5 May 2020

Driving without a valid car insurance policy is illegal. You could be fined £300 and get six penalty points, so if you can’t remember whether your car is still insured, our guide explains how to run a car insurance check to find out.

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

Car insurance isn't transferrable when cars are sold, so you're required to take out your own policy when buying a car. Some car dealers will offer ‘driveaway 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.

How can I check if a car is insured?

An easy way to check whether your vehicle is insured is through the Motor Insurer’s Database (MID) online. You just need the car’s registration number and must declare 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.

All insurance companies must be members of the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) and are required to add all policies to the database. It’s updated around the clock, 365 days per year, but may not be updated immediately. So if you’ve just purchased an insurance policy your car may not appear on the database straight away.

The MID check shows the car is insured — can I drive it?

If you’ve checked your car insurance status and the vehicle is insured, it doesn’t mean anyone can drive it. Insurance policies cover drivers rather than cars, so you’ll need your own car insurance policy (or to be added as a named driver) before you get behind the wheel.

How do I check who my car is insured with?

If you’ve forgotten who your car is insured with 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 can find confirmation or any other correspondence from an insurer. It’s worth checking spam 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.

Ask for a Subject Access Request: you can do this through the MIB but note that you may be charged a fee.

When does my car insurance run out?

If you’ve managed to locate 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.

What happens if my car is not insured?

It's a serious criminal offence to drive if your car isn't insured. Under UK law, it's illegal to drive a vehicle on a road or in a public place without at least third-party insurance. 

There are serious penalties for uninsured drivers, which is why it is so important to check if your car is insured either with your insurance company or via an insurance checker. You should also check your own car insurance status to be sure you're legally allowed to drive it.

If you don’t check and the police find you are driving without insurance, they could give you a fixed penalty of £300 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 the vehicle that is being driven uninsured.

What insurance 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). Note that you won’t be able to drive your car at all 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.

If you don’t have insurance or a SORN, you’re risking a fine and prosecution — so if you’re not sure whether your car is insured, it’s important you find out as soon as possible.

Did my car 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 and automatically renew your cover if you don’t take any action. If you think this might be the case, you can find out by contacting your insurer or checking your bank statements to see if any payments have been collected in the past 12 months.

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.

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

Even if you take the steps to insure your car correctly, 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 this free car check on the government website. You can find out if a vehicle has up-to-date vehicle tax or has been registered as off-road (SORN).

You will be asked to enter the registration number of the vehicle. The result will tell you whether the car has been taxed, and when the tax expires. It will also show whether the car has had a valid MOT test, and when the next MOT test is due. It also gives the vehicle make and when it was first registered.

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