Is my car insured?

If you’ve forgotten your car insurance details or lost your policy documents, you can easily check whether your car is still insured, who the insurance provider is, your renewal date and other general information. 

This is all useful should you want to get a better deal on your car insurance or add family members or named drivers to the policy. Read on to find out more.

 

If you’ve forgotten your car insurance details or lost your policy documents, you can easily check whether your car is still insured, who the insurance provider is, your renewal date and other general information. 

This is all useful should you want to get a better deal on your car insurance or add family members or named drivers to the policy. Read on to find out more.

 

Alex Hasty
Insurance expert
7
minute read
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Last Updated 2 AUGUST 2022

How to check if a car is insured

The easiest way to find out if your car is insured is to check your registration number against the Motor Insurance Database (MID). This is a national register of all the cars insured in the UK. The search is free, with a small fee for additional details like the insurance provider’s name and general policy details.   
  
Be aware that the MIB is warning its customers about reported cases of scam callers pretending to be from the MIB. The scam caller will probably ask for your bank details. If you suspect that you’ve received such a scam call, you can visit the MIB website’s help and advice page.

What documents do I need to check my car insurance?

You don’t need any documents, just your car registration number to check if your car is on the Motor Insurance Database using the free askMID search tool. You’ll also need to declare that the car is registered, owned or insured by you or your employer.

How do I check who I’m insured with?

If you’ve checked askMID and discovered that you’re covered, but you can’t remember which insurance provider you’re with, there’s a few ways you can find out:  

  • Search your email inbox with the words ‘car insurance’ to see if you’ve had any recent emails or a PDF certificate from an insurance provider relating to your car. 
  • Check your bank account or credit card statements for payments made to an insurance provider. 
  • Retrieve an old quote if you used a comparison website like Compare the Market to see if this jogs your memory. 
  • Submit a Data Subject Access Request to the MID. You’ll need to provide copies of ID to prove your identity and address, plus pay a small fee to get the name of your insurance provider.

Does my car insurance renew automatically?

Many car insurance policies will auto-renew, so in theory you should always be covered unless you contact your provider to cancel. But it’s not quite as simple as that. There can be instances when scheduled payments don’t go through. This could be because you’ve got a new credit or debit card, or you don’t have enough money in your bank account to cover your premium, for example.

Your provider should let you know about any issues so you can rectify them, but if they can’t take a payment from you on your renewal date, you won’t be covered.

There can be other drawbacks to auto-renewal too, not least that you could end up paying a much higher premium than if you shopped around for a cheaper deal. 

What happens if you don’t have car insurance?

It’s an offence to drive on any public road without insurance and you could face severe penalties if you’re caught.

The Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) scheme is set up to identify uninsured vehicles. If your car is flagged, you’ll be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter informing you that you need to take action. If you ignore the letter, you could be fined by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

If you’re pulled over by the police on suspicion of driving without insurance, you’ll have seven days to provide proof that you were insured at the time. If you can’t, you could be prosecuted. At the very least, you could get a fixed penalty of £300 and six penalty points on your driver’s licence. The police can seize your vehicle and they even have the power to destroy it. If the matter goes to court, you might be given an unlimited fine and you could be disqualified from driving.  

Even if the car itself has insurance, you must be properly insured to drive it or you could be penalised. For example, if it’s not your car, you should be listed as a named driver by the policyholder. Alternatively, you can get temporary car insurance to drive someone else’s car.

Did you know?

You don’t have to be driving to be caught out for not having insurance. Keeping a vehicle without insurance or a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) is against the law – even if it’s just sitting on the road outside your house gathering dust.

How do I check my car insurance renewal date?

If you’ve lost your motor insurance certificate and can’t remember when you bought your cover, you can contact your provider to ask them when your renewal date is. You might also be able to check it online.

Your insurance provider will contact you at least 21 days before your renewal date to let you know when your policy is due to auto-renew or expire. This is a good time to compare quotes from other providers to see if you can get a cheaper deal on your next policy.

If you compare with Compare the Market, we can automatically look for deals on your car insurance before it’s time to renew.

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Can you ever drive without car insurance?

No. By law, you must have at least third-party car insurance to drive on a public road. However, you don’t need car insurance if:

  • You’ve taken your car off the road and declared it SORN 
  •  It’s been kept off public roads since before 1 February 1998
  • It’s been reported as scrapped, stolen or exported
  • It’s registered as ‘in trade’ – between dealers or is being held in stock by an authorised dealer.
Author image Alex Hasty

What our expert says...

"Don’t rely on your car insurance policy auto-renewing. Make absolutely sure you’re covered for everything you need to be or you could find yourself in serious trouble. Find out more about driving penalties to make sure you stay on the right side of the law."

- Alex Hasty, Motor insurance expert

Frequently asked questions

Why is it important to check my car insurance?

Not only is having car insurance a legal requirement, but checking the details of your insurance will help you understand what you’re covered for. You’ll be able to see if you have all the cover you need, or whether you need to add more, and be prepared if you need to make a claim.

It’s also useful to remind yourself of your car insurance excess (how much you’ve agreed to pay towards any claim you make) in case you want to change it.

What happens if I don’t have my car insured before I need to travel?

It’s a legal requirement to have at least third party car insurance when you get behind the wheel. If you forget to insure your car, there are serious legal and financial consequences. If you’re just using a car for a short amount of time – you’re sharing the driving or borrowing a car, for example – you can get temporary car insurance that lasts from an hour to 30 days. But never travel anywhere without first making sure you’re covered.

Can car insurance be transferred to a new owner?

No. Your car insurance is linked to you as an individual and can’t be transferred to someone else – even your spouse or partner. But you can add a family member to your policy.

You can change some details such as your address, the car or switch the main driver, but there could be charges or a change to your premium. If you want to change your policy, contact your insurance provider. They may agree to alter your existing cover, but they could ask you to take out a new policy.

Can you pause your car insurance?

It’s unlikely you’ll find an insurance provider that will let you temporarily suspend your car insurance.

By law, your vehicle must either be insured or taken off the road and declared SORN. If you’re not going to be driving your car for a couple of months, it might be better to keep it insured. Even parked up on the driveway or in a garage, there’s still a risk of damage, fire or theft. And it could work out cheaper than cancelling and restarting a new policy.

Am I insured when I buy a new car?

Some car dealers will offer temporary insurance when you buy a new vehicle, or you can arrange short term cover yourself. This will protect you for a limited period until you’ve had time to set up an annual policy. Even if you’re just driving your new car a short distance from a local dealership, you’ll need to be insured.

Am I insured to drive other cars?

Not necessarily. You’re allowed to drive someone else’s car if you’re a named driver on their policy. And you may be able to drive someone else’s car in very limited circumstances if you have ‘driving other cars’ (DOC) cover included on your policy.

But you should never assume you’re insured to drive other people’s cars. If in doubt, speak to your insurance provider before getting behind the wheel of another car so you always stay on the right side of the law.

How do I check if my car is taxed and has an MOT?

You can check if your car is taxed and has a valid MOT certificate by using the government’s free car vehicle enquiry service.

Simply type in your registration number to find out if your car is currently taxed or registered as off the road (SORN). Helpfully, it will also tell you when the tax expires and when your next MOT test is due, along with other general details about your car.

Can I check if someone else’s car is insured?

You can use the askMID website to find out if another car is insured, but only if it was involved in an accident. You’ll need to know the registration number of the vehicle, along with the date of the incident and your involvement in it. There will also be a £10 fee to pay to use this service.

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