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If you’ve got a car you don’t use, then you’ve probably wondered if you can stop paying for insurance and leave it parked on the road instead. Although this might sound tempting, it’s essential to understand what the law says first.

In short, an uninsured car cannot be parked on a public road. However, the details are a little bit more complicated.

Read on to find out more about this topic and find answers to your other car insurance-related questions.

What type of insurance is needed to park on the road?

At a minimum, a vehicle must have third-party insurance to be parked on the road. This also applies to cars kept on private property.

Third-party insurance is the lowest level of cover available in the UK. It only protects you against any injuries you cause to another person while driving or for damage to their car.

Third-party fire and theft and comprehensive policies are the other options available for UK drivers. We’ll explore each of these options more later, so stick around to learn more.

When do you need car insurance?

You will need to have valid car insurance whenever you have a vehicle that does not have off-the-road status. Even if you keep your car on the driveway and don’t intend to move it, you still need valid coverage.

To secure off-the-road status, you must apply for a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). This process is very straightforward, as long as you are the registered keeper of your vehicle. With a SORN, you can park your car on the road or on a private driveway without the risk of insurance penalties.

However, the SORN system can be frustrating if you’re in a situation where you mainly keep your car off the road but need to drive it occasionally.

Thankfully, there is a way to get around this so that you only pay for insurance when needed.

The solution? Short term insurance

Many people assume that car insurance is only available in annual policies. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Drivers can also purchase short-term insurance to make their cars legally drivable.

There are many different short-term policies available in a variety of time lengths.

If your cover needs are for a couple of hours, GoShorty’s hourly car insurance has you covered. Maybe your needs extend to weekly car insurance cover or monthly car insurance. Either way, choosing short-term insurance gives you incredible flexibility and control over your cover.

In the context of the SORN system discussed above, there is one loophole. If you need to attend an MOT appointment for your SORN vehicle, short-term insurance can be purchased in order for you to attend. However, it should be noted that SORN vehicles cannot be used for transportation even if insured. 

Other benefits of short-term car insurance

It doesn’t impact your no-claims discount

Keeping your No Claims Discount intact is always an important process.

Having several years of no claims will effectively bring the price of any future insurance policies down. On the flip side, just a single insurance accident can ruin your no-claims discount and send your policy premium to the moon.

With standalone short-term insurance, any claims made by the vehicle owner are covered by the temporary cover. In other words, any driving incidents will have no impact on the owner’s no claims discount for future annual policies.

Easy to set up

Anyone who has set up an annual car insurance policy will know that the process can be difficult and tedious. Making complex arrangements with your insurance company can take hours and even days.

With short-term insurance, you can be set up and ready to go in a matter of minutes. This is ideal if you have an uninsured car parked in your garage that you need to be able to drive immediately.

Much easier to make adjustments

Another thing that can be tough with long auto insurance coverage is adjusting the policy. Processes such as adding new, uninsured drivers to the policy are never as straightforward as they should be.

The short-term alternative allows you to adjust your cover exactly how you need. If one day you need to add an extra driver to the cover, then you can simply take out a daily policy that includes them.

This is a perfect solution for parents who share a vehicle with their kids. Taking out learner driver car insurance or temporary student car insurance is an easy way to keep them safe without paying for an expensive annual policy.

Motor insurance coverage choices if you want to park your car on the road

So, you know that you need car insurance to park on the road, but which level of cover do you need? Here’s a handy round-up of the three types of car insurance available in the UK:


Third-party insurance is the minimum level of cover required to drive or park a car on the roads in the UK. Put simply, third-party covers you against any damage you cause to another person’s vehicle, as well as any injuries they sustain.

Third-party insurance is the most affordable option and may be attractive to those who want to park their car up for the foreseeable future. However, it’s important to recognise that you won’t be protected if another driver causes damage to your car or if it gets stolen.

Third-party fire and theft

The next step up on the car insurance ladder is third-party fire and theft. You get the same third-party coverage as above, but you’re also covered if your car catches fire or is stolen.

Again, it’s important to recognise that third-party fire and theft insurance does not protect against any damage sustained by your own vehicle.


Comprehensive insurance is the highest cover level in the UK. It protects drivers against fire and theft, damage to other vehicles and injuries caused. Plus, it also provides coverage against damage to your own vehicle.

Accidents relating to parked cars and moving vehicles are very common in the UK. The fact that comprehensive insurance protects you from the financial repercussions of such damage is a big benefit.

What are the penalties for parking an uninsured vehicle on the road?

Uninsured vehicles are frowned upon by the Government; as such, there are penalties in place to encourage people to insure their cars.

If your vehicle is parked on the road without a valid insurance policy, you will likely receive a £100 fixed penalty. Cars parked on private property are also subject to this fine if they’re discovered without insurance.

In addition, your car could be clamped or impounded. In rare cases, the vehicle could be destroyed.

There is also the chance of facing a court prosecution, with a maximum fine of £1000. None of these penalties are desirable and should be enough to convince most people to get their car proper protection.


Does a car need a registration plate to be parked on the road?

Yes, a valid insurance policy isn’t the only thing UK drivers need to park their cars on the road. It is a legal requirement for all cars to have a visible front number plate whenever parked. The front registration must have a white background and display the number.

The number plate must also match the one registered to your vehicle – you can’t just slap any old plate on there. The only time you don’t need a front registration plate is when you’ve declared the car SORN.

Why is an uninsured car not allowed to be on the road?

The requirement of a valid insurance policy for all vehicles was introduced in 2011 as a way to combat uninsured driving. With hefty fines promised for those who broke the rules, the change aimed to incentivise those without insurance to invest in it as soon as possible.

How do the authorities know if my vehicle is uninsured?

The insurance status of all the vehicles in the UK is stored in a central database. Police officers and traffic enforcers have easy access to this database and use it to check up on suspicious vehicles. An officer can find out if you’re uninsured on the spot.

If you don’t appreciate the safety aspects of an insurance policy, then the fact that it’s very easy to get caught without one might sway you. If you park a car on the road without insurance, then you could be signing up for some serious fines.

How do I declare my car off-the-road?

You can register your car as being out of use by heading to the DVLA website. After successfully applying for a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), you can choose to start it immediately or on the first day of the following month.

Secure, reliable temporary car insurance with Go Shorty

If you need flexible temporary car insurance to keep your car parked on the road legally, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our friendly team would be delighted to explain the options in more depth and help you choose the right cover for your vehicle.