Questions we answer in this guide:
- What are the penalties for driving without vehicle insurance?
- What are the different types of insurance available and what factors affect the cost of cover?
- What happens if you’re hit by an uninsured driver?
Penalties for driving without insurance
Motorists who are caught driving a vehicle on a road or other public place without insurance can be issued with an on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £300 and 6 penalty points on their driver's licence.
The police may also have the power to seize and, in some cases, destroy the uninsured vehicle (see our guide on when the police can seize your vehicle for more information). The consequences could be even more severe if your case ends up in front of a court, including a fine of up to £5,000 and a driving ban.
For motorists convicted for causing death while driving uninsured, the punishment is up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least 12 months.
When you do finally get your licence back, you'll likely find your insurance premiums will be much more expensive than they were before – particularly in the 4 years from the date of the offence that this remains on your driving record, perhaps even longer where the offence was more serious and resulted in a criminal conviction.
If you have a vehicle you're not using on the road or in public, you still need to insure and tax it unless you decide to declare it as being off the road. You can do this by making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) either online or through the post.
You may be stopped and fined up to £2,500 if caught driving a vehicle with a SORN on a public road.
Types of car insurance
It’s not enough for the vehicle to be insured, the driver must be insured to drive it. The minimum amount of cover required by law is known as third party insurance. That means that, in the event of an accident, cover extends to the cost of damages to other vehicles, leaving you to pay for the damages to your own vehicle yourself.
Settling for third-party cover is one way to keep insurance costs down (provided you’re able to avoid getting into any accidents). But many drivers opt for greater protection, such as cover in the event of vehicle fire and theft (aka third party, fire and theft) and fully comprehensive cover that covers damage to both yours and other vehicles in the event of an accident where you're at fault, driving abroad and accumulating a no-claims bonus.
No-claims bonus, aka no-claims discount, is a helpful reward for drivers who go for as little as 1 whole year without making a claim on their insurance. The longer the time since making a claim, the greater the discount applied to their insurance premium.
If you have fully comprehensive insurance cover on your own vehicle, that will usually allow you to drive other vehicles. Of course, you must have the permission of the owner to do so and it must be a type of vehicle that you're licensed to drive. Be aware that you'll only have third-party cover when driving vehicles you’re not insured on.
How do insurance companies decide how much your premium should be?
With that in mind, the amount we may pay for car insurance can vary wildly from person to person.
For the insurance companies, this is largely a question of risk.
On the one hand, you have experienced drivers with clean records or drivers looking for very limited cover – while on the other, you have young and/or inexperienced drivers, drivers with convictions and blemished licences or simply individuals looking for comprehensive cover on very expensive vehicles.
The address of the policy holder, including where the car will be kept overnight, and the occupation of the driver will also be taken into account. If the policy holder is on the road a lot for work, or lives in an area where crime is higher than average, the level of risk increases for the insurance company.
And not forgetting, the make and model of the vehicle, as we touched on a moment ago, is also a significant factor – with faster and more expensive vehicles costing more to insure than more modest, more affordable options.
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