Is My Car Insured?

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Alexandre Desoutter updated on May 21, 2021

Do you think everyone in the UK is driving with a valid insurance?

That is not the case. In fact, according to the AA British Motoring Association, around 1.5 million UK drivers are currently out on the roads without a policy.

And you want to make sure you’re not one of them.

So, if you want to learn why having a car insurance policy is so important, how to check if a car is insured, or why you don't want to get caught out in an accident or penalized by the Police, then you might love the following article.

Let’s dive straight into the ultimate guide to to check if a car is insured.

How can I check if a car is insured?

The best way to check if a car is insured by number plate right now is to head over to the Motor Insurance Database (MID) website, also known as AskMID.

To check if a car is insured by number plate fast:

  • Go to the Motor Insurance Database website (askMID);
  • Type in the Vehicle Registration Number (the one on the yellow license plate);
  • Click the ‘Check This Vehicle’ button;
  • Access all the insurance information relating to the searched vehicle insurance.

You’ll be able to see information like the car insurance expiry date, the car insurance status or whether it’s insured or not, and answer questions like who am I insured with and is your car taxed insured and MOT compliant.

This is the easiest, most accurate way to find out if a car is insured.

You can also request a DVLA vehicle enquiry, or a DVLA check, to find out.

However, even if you don’t check if a car is insured yourself, the Motor Insurance Database themselves will get in touch via a letter to let you know if you're ever driving a car without being covered by a car insurance policy, whether you're doing so on purpose or not.

If you ever receive this letter, this is your first official warning. You're on the road to landing yourself in a lot of trouble with the courts if you ignore the request and continue to drive without a policy covering you. This can also lead to your car being clamped or even seized and destroyed.

This is the same no matter what vehicle you are driving, whether that's a car, motorbike, lorry, or van. If you drive a car on the public roads, you need an insurance policy to cover you to drive it. You can also use this online service to answer the question of when does your car insurance run out.

If you are not insured yet, you can shop around by comparing car insurance policies quotes.

To summarize

  • It’s illegal to drive a car without an insurance policy covering you.
  • You can check your car insurance policy by searching on the askMID website.
  • You will receive a letter from the MID if you own a car without an insurance policy.
  • Receiving a MID letter is a legal warning.
  • Your car can be seized, clamped, and destroyed if you continue to drive without insurance.

When is my car insurance due?

Most often, car insurance policies last for a whole year. Before your contract comes to an end, your insurance company must send you a renewal notice between 14 to 21 days before the anniversary date of your contract before auto-renewing it.

It is up to you to let things as-is or challenge your current insurer's quote with the market by shopping around (which we advise!).

If you want to check at anytime when your car insurance will expire, the easiest way to do so is to go on the Motor Insurance database website as explained just above. Note that you could face a slight delay between purchasing a policy online and the Motor Insurance Database to be up to date with your latest info.

You could also, of course, call your insurer, check your emails or dig into your latest bank statements but that would be a longer way to do it.

As main driver, it is your only responsability to check if your car is insured before hitting the road. Driving without insurance is a serious offence that could lead to severe fine and driving ban as explained here.

Is an insurance car check free?

The check is free for necessary car insurance information.

If you need further details, pay the £4 search fee for an advanced search (which includes the insurance provider's name and any specific policy details the MID has).

What if my car is uninsured before I need to drive?

Do not under any circumstances drive your car.

In the UK, it is completely illegal to drive a vehicle on a public road without a suitable insurance policy covering the driver of the vehicle. If you get caught on the road by law enforcement or are involved in an accident, the financial and legal repercussions can be incredibly severe.

However, there are a handful of situations where insurance isn't necessary. A vehicle can be uninsured if it has been declared as SORN with the DVLA and can therefore be kept off the road, or if the car is for example registered as “in trade” with the DVLA.

It's important to note that these are all situations where the car has been registered in a different way of being out on the road.

There is no situation where you can drive on a public road without vehicle insurance or without giving the DVLA its status in any way, shape, or form.

Can the Police check if my car is insured?

Since the Police have access to the Motor Insurance Database, yes, they can check.

In fact, modern-day police units have the ability to scan car number plates while traveling and pull you over if there's a problem. Since all you need to find out whether a car has insurance is the registration number, a police officer could run this from a car or while on foot.

Usually, if you're pulled over for anything, the police officer will make a call to have your vehicle plates run, in which the results will be returned in seconds, which will instantly notify them if you don't have insurance on the car you're driving. With so many uninsured drivers on the road, this is something the Police are proactively looking out for, as well as using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras.

Watch out!

If you are pulled over and found to be driving with no insurance, the penalties can be severe. The most common is to be fined £300, and you'll have six driving penalty points added to your license. 

This can stop you from securing certain job vacancies and will stay with you for several years.

In more major cases where you are taken to court over your fine, you may have your license taken away forever, face an unlimited fine, and become disqualified. If you rely on driving for a living and for living your life, this is not something you're going to want to risk.

Across the UK, this motoring conviction penalty is known as an IN10, and having one of these on your record will definitely make it more difficult to secure affordable car insurance in the future.

To summarize:

  • Police can run on-the-spot checks using the MID database and cameras.
  • You can be pulled over for driving without an insurance policy.
  • You can be fined up to £300 plus have six penalty points on your license.
  • You can be taken to court if found driving without insurance.
  • The conviction notice is known as an IN10.

Is the car insured or the driver?

Insurance policies are issued on an individual, personal basis, which means the drivers are insured, not the cars themselves.

You are insured and you can drive a car insured legally if:

  • You have an insurance policy in your name registered to a specific car.
  • You are a named driver on someone else’s policy.

Just because you see your vehicle does have insurance in the Motor Insurance Database, that doesn't mean you or anybody can jump in the car and drive it. Now, you may be wondering, "can I drive another car on my insurance if it's not insured?" - perhaps a friend or loved one’s car, or maybe even a work/company car. Check out our article to get to know more about this.

Do I need insurance if my car doesn’t run?

If your car is broken down, unable to be driven, or simply doesn't work properly, you will still need insurance with the car.

This must be a policy that still covers, at the bare minimum, third-party cover, fire, and theft.

The only situations where you won’t need a car insurance policy on a broken down or unusable car is if:

  • It has been declared SORN and isn't used (or even parked) on the road.
  • It has been registered with the DVLA as being ‘in trade’.
  • It has been scrapped, stolen, or exported.
  • It hasn’t been on a public road since 1st February 1998.

Specific, we know. If your car doesn't fit into any category above, you need to get insurance.

What can I do about uninsured drivers?

If you are insured but you are involved in an accident that is not your fault with an uninsured driver, you will be able to:

  • Claim compensation through your insurance provider if you have a comprehensive car insurance policy cover.
  • Claim through the Motor’s Insurance Bureau (the MIB) if you only have a third party level of cover. They sometimes offer financial compensation where uninsured drivers are involved.

Each year, thousands of people are injured, or even killed by drivers without any valid insurance.

Watch out!

You must know that if you are involved in an accident but you are not covered by a car insurance policy, that might seriously leave you out of pocket. As explained above, repercussions can be extremely severe especially if someone is injured. 

If the accident is your fault, then you are legally liable for any damage made to cars or people and your insurance provider must compensate the victims.

What is the Motor Insurance Bureau, exactly?

There are several organizations whose job it is to enforce the laws when it comes to driving.

  • The Motor Insurance Bureau is a non-profit organization whose main role is to set up and refresh the Motor Insurance Database (MID) we were talking about above. The MID is the central record of all cars insured in UK. It is used by both the police and the DVLA;
  • The DVLA is the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, a government organization which keeps records of all drivers and vehicles registered in UK and collects billions of pounds in vehicle excise duty.

How to find the best car insurance policy?

Start comparing best car insurance quotes now. 

To quickly summarise :

  • You're going to need a car insurance policy on every single car and vehicle you drive on the public roads in the UK. If the car is declared SORN or hasn't been driven since 1st February 1998, you're fine, but any other time you will need a policy.
  • If you're caught driving without a policy, or even if your car is spotted in a driveway or on the street without insurance, and isn't in the MID, you will be fined, your car can be seized and destroyed, and you'll be facing a criminal record.

So, instead of this stuff happening, your best bet is to make sure you're always insured and always covered, but now comes the challenge of actually finding a car insurance policy to suit you and, most importantly, your budget. And the best way to find it is to shop around and compare coverage and quotes.

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Alexandre Desoutter

Alexandre Desoutter has been working as editor-in-chief and head of press relations at HelloSafe since June 2020. A graduate of Sciences Po Grenoble, he worked as a journalist for several years in French media, and continues to collaborate as a as a contributor to several publications.

In this sense, his role leads him to carry out steering and support work with all HelloSafe editors and contributors so that the editorial line defined by the company is fully respected. and declined through the texts published daily on our platforms.

As such, Alexandre is responsible for implementing and maintaining the strictest journalistic standards within the HelloSafe editorial staff, in order to guarantee the most accurate, up-to-date information on our platforms. and expert as possible. Alexandre has in particular undertaken for two years now the implementation of a system of systematic double-checking of all the articles published within the HelloSafe ecosystem, able to guarantee the highest quality of information.