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In the UK, you are required by law to have at least third-party car insurance. Driving without insurance can result in hefty fines and points on your licence, or the police can even have your car seized.

There are a few scenarios where you might not require insurance for your car. However, these are very specific. To be safe, always make sure your car is insured. Plus, make sure you know what to do if you find yourself in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

In this article, we will discuss what can happen to uninsured drivers if caught by the police. We will also tell you how you can get temporary car insurance to cover you in the short term.

Is it illegal to drive without insurance?

According to the UK Government, driving on a public road without car insurance is illegal. At the very least, you must have basic third-party insurance.

Third-party insurance is the bare minimum – it will cover you if you cause an accident plus any injury or damages to a third party.

You can get more extensive cover, such as insurance against theft and fire or fully comprehensive insurance, which will protect any damages to your vehicle.

There is only one exception – if you are driving on a private road with no public access, you do not require insurance.

What happens if I get caught driving without insurance?

In accordance with the Road Traffic Act 1930, third-party insurance is required whether you are driving on or parked on any public road. 

The police have special licence plate recognition cameras (ANPR) that can check whether your car has been insured. Should these cameras spot that your car is not insured, you can be summoned to court, where you could get between 6 and 8 points on your licence or even an unlimited fine.

If the police pull you over, you have 7 days to provide documents proving you have up-to-date insurance, which was valid when you were stopped. It will not help if you get insurance after the police stop you.

If your insurance provider stopped your insurance without your knowledge, you must be able to prove this.

The police can seize the uninsured vehicle you were driving, even if it does not belong to you. In extreme cases, they may even destroy the car.

Fines for driving without insurance

There is no maximum fine for driving without insurance. The minimum penalties are:

If a case is serious, it may have to be handled in court. Serious cases include when a driver is driving without a valid licence, has provided false identification or insurance details, or was driving a high-risk vehicle.

The court can issue an unlimited fine or disqualify you from driving. In these cases, the police may seize the vehicle and possibly destroy it.

You may also face some additional consequences from driving without insurance, such as higher car insurance premiums in the future, and any costs from an accident may be out of pocket.

Will I get a criminal record?

Driving without insurance won’t appear on a criminal record. You also won’t be sent to prison for the offence.

That being said, if you are caught driving without insurance, you will get an IN10 endorsement which remains on your licence for 4 years. You may also receive points on your license, a fine or even a driving ban. 

If you do get insurance in the future, you will have to disclose this information to your insurance providers.

Reasons for legally driving without insurance

Certain scenarios allow you to legally drive or own an uninsured vehicle. Here are 4 situations where you could own a car that is not insured.

1) Statutory off-road notification

Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) happens when you declare to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that your car is being taken off public roads.

You can notify the DVLA through an online form, the post or by giving them a call.

Once your car has been declared SORN, you can keep it in your garage or driveway or drive it on private land. However, it will no longer be allowed to drive or be parked on public roads. Should you wish to use the SORN vehicle again in the future, you will have to reinsure your car.

Keep in mind that you may still want to insure your SORN vehicle in case of theft or fire, even though you are not legally required to do so.

2) Cars that have been written off, sold, stolen or exported

If your vehicle has been scrapped, written off, stolen, sold or exported, you are obligated to notify your insurance provider and have them cancel your insurance cover.

You may be eligible to receive a refund on your insurance premiums should this be the case.

Also, make sure to notify the DVLA of the change of circumstances, or you can face a fine of up to £1,000

3) Your car is at the dealership

If you are leasing a car or financing a vehicle and still waiting for the car to be delivered, you do not have to insure the car until you receive it.

You can contact your insurance company ahead of time to schedule the insurance cover to commence on the delivery date. This will allow you ample time to find cover that fits your needs before you receive your car.

If you have to collect your car from the dealership and do not have insurance, you can get hourly car insurance to drive your car home.

4) Only driving on private land

You can drive without insurance if you are driving on private land that does not have any access to the public. You should, however, be aware of what is considered public land, as you can easily be caught out.

Here are some instances where you cannot drive without insurance, even if you think it is private property:

Unless you live on a completely fenced property with a private driveway where permission must be given for people to enter, it is best to avoid this risk.

What if an uninsured driver hits me?

Unfortunately, there are some occasions when a person without car insurance hits your car and causes damage.

Usually, when both cars involved in the accident have been insured, the drivers would exchange insurance information, and the insurance providers will sort out the costs – depending on who was responsible for the accident.

If an uninsured driver hits you, they may refuse to exchange any information. Should this happen, it is best to report the incident to the police immediately. If you suffered injury as a result of the accident, you must notify the police within 14 days. You must also notify the police within 5 days if your car or property is damaged.

Once the police have been notified, you need to claim from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). The MIB helps cover the costs of damage or injury when uninsured drivers cause an accident. You will have to notify the MIB within 3 years from the date of the accident.

If the police cannot find the uninsured driver after you made a claim to the MIB, you may have to pay an excess of £300 for any claims.

Your claim will be rejected if the MIB discovers that you were partially responsible for the accident.

Does comprehensive insurance cover any vehicle?

Most comprehensive insurance policies include Driving Other Cars (DOC) cover. However, it is always best to check which cars and situations are covered by your insurance policy if you have comprehensive coverage.

Many people have fallen victim to a situation where they believe they were covered for DOC when this was not the case.

An owner of an insured car will also be held liable if an uninsured driver used their vehicle. The owner will potentially face a fine as well as points on their licence.

Do I need insurance when I test drive a car?

Even when test driving a car, you will need valid car insurance. Fortunately, temporary insurance options can cover you for short periods—for example, one-day car insurance, week car insurance or monthly car insurance.

Some dealerships do have insurance in place that will cover someone when they are test driving the vehicle, so you should always check first.

If you are not purchasing your car through a dealership, it is best to get temporary car insurance, even if you are just driving around the block.

Temporary car insurance can be “topped up” – if you initially only took out insurance for an hour but want to go for a longer drive, you can simply extend your period online.

At GoShorty, you can easily compare car insurance quotes if you are looking for short-term car insurance.

FAQs about driving without insurance

Does a car parked on the road require insurance?

Yes, even a car parked on the side of the road must be insured if it is on a public road. Parking a car is considered a use of the car under the Road Traffic Act Section 143.

The reason for this requirement is that even a parked car can be hit by another vehicle.

If I drive on private land, must I be insured?

If the public cannot access the private land, you do not have to be insured. But if the land has any public access, such as private car parks, campsites and estates, your car will have to be insured.

What is the maximum fine for driving without insurance?

There is no maximum fine if you are caught driving without insurance. For serious cases, you could be summoned to court, where you can get an unlimited fine. Other penalties for driving without insurance include 6 to 8 penalty points on your licence, being disqualified from driving, and also the police seizing and destroying your vehicle.

Do SORN vehicles require insurance?

If you have made a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) and notified the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency of the situation, you do not require SORN insurance. However, it might still be a good idea to insure the car against theft or fire damage, as it is still at risk even when parked or stowed away.

Get temporary car insurance with GoShorty

It is illegal to drive without insurance in the UK. Fortunately, great short-term insurance policies are available if you are only going to be driving for a short time. This will save you money on monthly instalments or annual payments.

You can take out temporary car insurance if you plan on test driving a vehicle or driving your car home from the dealership. There are also other options, such as young driver temporary car insurance for young drivers using someone else’s car or temporary student car insurance for students borrowing their parents’ cars while on holiday.

Contact GoShorty to find affordable temporary car insurance options for any situation.