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Is it illegal to drive without insurance and what’s the maximum fine?

It’s illegal, no excuses

DRIVERS often complain about the high cost of car insurance especially when lumped on top of other motoring costs like fuel, tax and maintenance. However, it is essential to have if you want to legally drive a car in the UK as the penalties for going without can be severe.

According to estimates from the Motor Insurer’s Bureau, every 20 minutes someone in the UK is injured in an incident caused by an uninsured or untraced driver, with 130 people killed every year in accidents involving that group.

Accidents involving uninsured drivers can heap misery and financial hardship onto blameless victims as they struggle to recoup the costs of medical treatment or damaged vehicles that should have been covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance.

Figures from 2020 indicate that there are currently around a million uninsured drivers on UK roads, equating to around 4% of all drivers nationwide.

Is it illegal to drive without insurance?

Yes — it is totally illegal to drive or park a car on a public road in the UK without, at the very least, third party insurance.

Third-party insurance covers the financial cost of damages to any person or property resulting from a road accident that a driver has caused. For example, suppose an insured driver is at fault in a minor collision with another car. In that case, the driver’s third party insurance will cover the cost of repairing the damage to the other vehicle.

What are the main types of car insurance policy? 

Some insurance companies don’t offer third party insurance on its own. It can sometimes be bundled in with Third Party, Fire and Theft insurance which means that, in addition to the most basic form of insurance, a driver is also covered if their own vehicle goes on fire or is stolen.

Comprehensive insurance covers all of that and the cost of repair to a driver’s car following an accident, even if they were at fault.

Many policies will have a “driving of other cars” clause which covers the insured to drive cars other than their own. Drivers must ensure that anyone driving their car is insured to do so.

What’s the maximum fine for driving without insurance?

A driver will face a fine of £300 and six penalty points added to their license if caught driving without insurance.

For more serious offences, such as those involving an HGV or providing false details to the police, the case can go to court which can result in an unlimited fine or a driving ban. The court may also order the driver to pay the associated costs of an accident they may have been involved in.

The police have the power to seize and destroy an uninsured vehicle, and a conviction for driving without insurance will likely lead to higher insurance premiums in the future. They can also issue an IN10 endorsement on the driver’s license, which remains for four years and must be disclosed to insurance companies for five years following the conviction.

How do I check if my car is insured?

Check the Motor Insurance Database online. The system allows you to enter your car’s registration to see whether your car is insured or not. Aside from that, check through your files and documents to see if you can find any up-to-date correspondence regarding an insurance policy you may have.

Does my car need to be insured if it’s parked?

Yes. Any car parked or driven in a public place must be insured. If your car is not in use, it must be declared off the road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) and parked in a private location.

Can you tax your car without insurance?

No, you need insurance to tax your car.

You don’t necessarily need to have documents to hand as the DVLA will check it automatically when you pay road tax. One exception is in Northern Ireland, where if you want to pay road tax at a post office, you’ll need to supply proof of insurance.

If you’ve just bought a new car, you can use temporary car insurance to tax the car.

How much is car insurance?

As of October 2021, the average UK price for comprehensive car insurance was £412.

The cost of insurance can vary greatly depending on factors like age, location and driving history.

Drivers in East London paid, on average, £865 during the second quarter of 2021, but the average for London as a whole was £595. In contrast, the average premium in Galashiels in Scotland is just £257.

Drivers between 20 and 24 pay, on average, £811 per year compared to £253 for over-65s.

Drivers with a clean record will also see lower premiums than those with a history of accidents.

When don’t I need car insurance?

There are a very limited number of cases when those in possession of a motor vehicle don’t need car insurance.

  • The vehicle has been declared off the road with a SORN
  • It is between registered keepers or dealers
  • It has been scrapped, stolen or exported
  • It has been registered as “in trade” by the DVLA

The onus is always on the driver to ensure that they and the car they’re driving are correctly insured. Accidentally allowing a policy to lapse is not a valid excuse for driving without insurance and drivers will still be subject to the full rigours of the law in that regard.