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Has your car been seized? Learn what to do if your car is impounded, what compound insurance cover is and how your car getting seized affects your current insurance.

Has your car been seized? Learn what to do if your car is impounded, what compound insurance cover is and how your car getting seized affects your current insurance.

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
5 JULY 2023
5 min read
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Why do I need compound insurance for an impounded car?

If your car is impounded, you’ll need to provide proof of insurance that’s valid for at least 30 days to have it released – no matter what the offence.

Most standard car insurance policies won’t cover releasing an impounded vehicle. So if you want to get your seized car back, you’ll need short-term compound insurance.

What is compound insurance?

Compound (also called impound) insurance is a special type of temporary car insurance policy that typically lasts for 30 days. It provides you with the cover you need to release your car if it’s been impounded.

As most standard car insurance policies won’t cover impounded cars, compound insurance can fill the gap. Cover is immediate, allowing you to get your car back on the road as soon as possible.

You can choose between adding compound insurance as extra cover to your existing insurance policy or take out a specialist temporary policy.

Added compound insurance cover

This is additional cover that can be added to your existing policy at an extra cost. Check your policy wording to see if impound cover is already included. If not, your insurance provider might be prepared to add it for the time you need to release your car.

Temporary impound release insurance

This is a specialist policy for impounded cars that lasts for a minimum of 30 days. It gives you the time you need to get your car back on the road again.

If your car’s been impounded, standard temporary car insurance may not be accepted. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as one-day impounded car insurance.

Why are cars impounded?

The police, local authorities and the DVLA all have the right to seize vehicles. Your car might end up in the pound because it was:

  • Stolen, then found by the police
  • Involved in a crash
  • Parked illegally on roads or private land
  • Blocking the road or causing an obstruction
  • Being used for crime or anti-social behaviour
  • Uninsured 
  • Untaxed and parked on a public road 
  • Untaxed and parked on private land, but without a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)
  • Driven by someone without a licence or insurance.

What happens to my car if I don’t pay tax? 

Not paying your road tax is one of the reasons your car might be impounded. If your car is seized because you haven’t paid your car tax, you have two options: 

  • Pay your tax and a £200 fee to have your car released
  • Pay a £160 surety fee (deposit) and make a SORN so your car is officially off the road. 

If you pay a surety fee and then buy car tax within 15 days, you may be able to get a refund. 

The police seized my car. How do I get it back?

If your car’s been seized, the first thing to do is find out where it’s been taken. If you don’t receive a notice letter, you can call 101 and ask the police which pound has your car.

You could also call NSL, the company that enforces car tax payments, on 0343 224 1999.

How much does it cost to release my car from the pound?

Once you’ve tracked down your car, you’ll need to pay a fee to have it released. The amount you’ll need to pay depends on the weight and condition of your vehicle.

In most cases, if the vehicle isn’t badly damaged and is on the road, the charges are:

Vehicle type Removal charge Storage charge (per day)
Two-wheeled vehicles e.g. motorbikes and scooters £192 £13
Cars and light vans £192 £26

For the full list of fees, go to GOV.UK.

If you don’t pay the required release fees, your car may be sold or disposed of.

What are the legal requirements if my car has been seized?

If your car is seized, you’re legally required to pick it up within seven days of the date on the notice letter. You’ll need to take with you:

  • Photo ID, such as your passport or driving licence
  • Proof of ownership (your log book)
  • A valid MOT certificate (or proof that you’ve booked a test)
  • Proof of insurance.

If you don’t want your car back, you’ll need to ‘disclaim’ it. To do this, go to the pound with proof that you own the car and proof of your identify. There might be a disposal fee to pay and you’ll still have to pay any parking fines.

Where can I find impounded car insurance?

You may find that your current policy covers you for retrieving an impounded car. But not all policies do, so always check the small print and contact your provider if you’re not sure.

You might be able to add impounded car cover to your policy. If not, you’ll need to get specialist impounded car insurance.

If your car has been seized because it wasn’t insured, you’ll need to find a specialist insurance provider who’ll accept you and give you a compound insurance quote.

Compare the Market doesn’t offer a comparison service for impounded car insurance. But if you need a new policy once your car is released, you can compare car insurance with us.

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Frequently asked questions

What should I do if my car is clamped?

If your car is clamped because you haven’t paid your road tax, the authorities will leave an INF32 leaflet on your vehicle. You’ll need to call the number on the back for instructions on how to have your car released.

Can I collect the car if I’m not the car’s registered keeper?

No, the car’s registered keeper must collect the car in person – this is a legal requirement. The authorities will only make an exception if the registered keeper is:

  • Out of the country (and can provide evidence, such as airline tickets)
  • In custody
  • In hospital
  • Bedbound due to sickness, injury or disability.

If this is the case, someone can collect on the registered keeper’s behalf. But they’ll need to take proof of why the registered keeper can’t go, along with a letter authorising them to collect the car, signed by the registered keeper.

They’ll also need photo ID, such as a passport or driving licence.

Can I take out impound insurance if I’m not the registered keeper?

Most insurance providers will only offer impounded car insurance to the registered keeper of the vehicle, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The easiest solution is for the registered keeper to take out the necessary cover and reclaim the vehicle themselves.

Can you take out compound insurance for a day?

No, one-day compound insurance doesn’t exist. If your car is impounded, you’re legally required to take out the necessary insurance for a minimum of 30 days.

Why is impound insurance so expensive?

If your car is seized by the police, it’s automatically considered a higher risk.

Unfortunately, this means that impound insurance will be more expensive – even if your offence is a minor one.

Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie

Rebecca Goodman - Insurance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca

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