Cars, motorbikes or vans – whatever you drive, the onus is on you to make sure you have the right vehicle insurance and level of cover.
The easiest way to check if your car – or any other vehicle – is insured is to enter the number plate on the Motor Insurer's Database (MID). This free tool will tell you if the car's insured as well as confirming the make and model. The database keeps insurance information on every insured vehicle in the UK.
If you're involved in an accident, you can also use MID to check if the other person's car is insured by running their number plate through the Other Vehicle Look Up service – this will cost you £4.50.
It's illegal to drive a car without a minimum of third party car insurance in place. If you're caught driving without valid insurance you face:
Even if you don't use your car that often, or never drive it, you'll still need car insurance unless you've declared it as SORN and it's kept off the road. MID and DVLA impose Continuous Insurance Enforcement – the legislation which makes it an offence to be the registered keeper of a vehicle without insurance unless you've notified the DVLA of it being SORN.
If your car doesn't have valid insurance you could face:
Sometimes people drive without insurance due to a simple admin error like forgetting to renew their cover, but they'll still face the same stiff penalties as someone who's deliberately flouting the law. To help our customers stay on the right side of the law, we automatically renew our car insurance policies.
If you're convicted for driving without insurance you'll get an IN10 endorsement (using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks) on your licence. It'll stay on your driving licence for four years but you must tell insurers about it for five years. Magistrates' courts can also impose an unlimited fine.
If you've been convicted for driving without insurance and have an IN10 endorsement on your licence you may find it difficult to get insurance in the future. Some insurance companies won't offer a quote for motorists who've driven uninsured in the past. If you can get cover, you'll likely face higher prices as you'll be viewed as a higher risk.
Our article on penalty points explains how motoring convictions can affect your insurance.