What is a car insurance cover note?

You may have heard the phrase ‘car insurance cover note’, but not been 100% sure what it is or when you might get one. Find out what a cover note is and how it differs from a certificate of insurance.

You may have heard the phrase ‘car insurance cover note’, but not been 100% sure what it is or when you might get one. Find out what a cover note is and how it differs from a certificate of insurance.

Alex Hasty
Insurance expert
3
minute read
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Last Updated 8 MARCH 2022

Cover notes for vehicle insurance 

‘Cover note’ is the term insurance providers use if they issue a temporary certificate of motor insurance. It provides proof that a vehicle is insured until the final documents are sent. Cover notes used to be far more common, when it took longer to issue insurance certificates. You come across them less these days but they do still exist.

When are cover notes issued?

Cover notes are issued at the start of an insurance policy, or sometimes when a policy is amended – for example if you change your car.

Not every insurance provider issues cover notes. These days most will email you a certificate as soon as you buy your insurance. Others will send you confirmation within 24 hours of payment.

Can I use a cover note as proof of insurance?

You can use a cover note as proof that you’re insured. For example, if you’re stopped by the police and asked to produce proof of insurance, they will accept a cover note if your insurance certificate has not yet arrived.

What information is in a car insurance cover note?

Cover notes normally contain details such as:

  • Your name and address
  • The vehicle details and registration number
  • Your excess (the amount you pay towards a claim)
  • Level of cover, e.g. fully comprehensive car insurance
  • Who can drive the vehicle
  • Policy numbers
  • Special conditions
  • Expiry date.

Check the details on your cover note – these could be important if you need to make a claim, so check that your date of birth is right and your name is spelled correctly. Your claim could be invalidated if your details are wrong.

If there’s a problem, let your insurance provider know as soon as possible. This will help avoid mistakes being repeated when your insurance documents are issued.

What happens if my certificate doesn’t arrive?

Your certificate should arrive before your cover note runs out, but if it doesn’t, get in touch with your insurance provider straight away. They should be able to let you know what’s happening and how they plan to resolve the problem. You can also check they have your correct address.

If the certificate is delayed, your insurance provider should extend your cover note. Make sure your extension starts when your old cover note finishes, so there’s no gap in cover.

Frequently asked questions

What will happen if my cover note has expired but the permanent documents have not been issued?

This is unlikely to happen, as most insurance providers can now issue policies fairly quickly over email. But if it does, you should contact your insurance provider immediately to chase the documents and get an extension on your cover note if necessary.

What is the difference between a cover note and a policy?

A cover note is a temporary document offering proof that you’ve paid for your policy and your vehicle is insured. A policy is a more comprehensive document that details the exact terms of your insurance and what you’re covered for.

How long is a cover note valid for?

This will depend on your insurance provider. It’s unusual for one to last more than 60 days, but you’re highly unlikely to need it for that long.

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