/ Motoring

We shouldn’t have to insure our unused cars

Vintage car in garage

You may or may not be aware, but from the end of June, any vehicle without current insurance cover could be seized or even destroyed, with owners facing a £1,000 fine. Even if the car is not on the public road!

Essentially, according to the new rules, if you’re the registered keeper of a vehicle, it must be insured at all times.

The only get-out is if you formally register your motor as being off the road, by submitting a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

Is it the right solution?

The authorities will use the Motor Insurance Database to track uninsured vehicles, so even if your car isn’t in use, you’re not safe – they can take it off your hands. Another step towards a Big Brother state? Yes, I think it is.

I agree that uninsured drivers are a menace, and the idea of crushing their cars when they’re caught on the road (especially when they are habitual offenders) is a great one.

But I think the new rules are a step too far. It’s not really anybody’s business but the owner’s if a car is kept on private land. This legislation, in my view, is ill-conceived, created by people who haven’t thought it through, and may even turn out to be unenforceable.

Another car insurance option

Is there a better solution to fix this country’s car insurance problem? Why not introduce a levy on every litre of fuel, which would be used to pay for third party cover for everyone. Anyone wanting more comprehensive cover could then buy that separately as an optional extra. Essentially this would mean everybody would be automatically insured.

Plus, not only would we all pay in proportion to the amount of fuel we use, but it would remove the problem of uninsured drivers at a stroke – thus freeing up valuable police resources.

I suspect it would also shake up the closed-shop run by insurers, who in my view cash-in on the mandatory requirement of car insurance. The price of cover is now so high that it’s no wonder some people decide to chance it, rather than stump up several times the value of their car just to be allowed on the road.

With an insurance levy we’d suddenly find much stiffer competition for optional policies, bringing prices down for those of us who drive carefully and avoid claiming.

Do you think the government’s new car insurance rules are a step too far, or a required move to purge Britain’s roads of uninsured drivers?

Chris says:
5 December 2011

This law doesn’t help those of us trying to sell our old vehicles. I’m in the middle of two cars and am frantically trying to find the best way of keeping legal without forking out a huge amount on a car I no longer want. Currently its going to cost me an extra £220 for one weeks worth of insurance for a car I’m trying to sell. Its only £500 to insure it for a whole year.

Talk about a government yet again not thinking things through properly.

car off the road says:
17 January 2012

why can the police not do anything if a car is not tax mot or insuread when it is used on the road unless they see it on the road . i was told the police dont do anything them self you have to report it to DVLA . i dont break the law how come others can drive with no mot tax or insurance .

I’ve found a solution to my specific problems; I’ve now got trade insurance that covers all of my cars, whether on road, off road, SORNd, or even if they’re just in my care. It costs me about £100 more than my usual insurance but means I’m never uninsured under any circumstances.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I necessarily keep tax/SORN in order for the off-road cars, but at least the insurance is covered.

To be clear, if a car of mine goes on-road, it’s taxed 😉

Lamster says:
19 January 2012

Blimmey Phil only a £100 more who was that with?

I went through a broker called Think Insurance. There’s a few restrictions, and the excess is higher, but then I don’t intend to claim anything…

It’s made life so much easier, although it does mean I’ve got to buy/sell six more cars this year. considering I like to buy unloved 80s/90s cars, that shouldn’t be too much trouble!

Maurice says:
22 January 2012

It is not true, as stated in the article above, that “The only get-out is if you formally register your motor as being off the road, by submitting a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)”. You also do not have to insure your car if your vehicle has been kept off-road since before SORN came into force on 31 January 1998 (like my 1977 Spitfire that is no longer roadworthy but which I can’t bear to get rid of!), but articles like this, and other sources of information — even warnings enclosed with tax reminders, for instance — do not tell the whole story and are misleading people.

Chris A says:
3 March 2012

Can an Vehicle be Sold Sold As SEEN if the vehicle has an SORN on it

Larry says:
3 March 2012

I do not know what all the fuss is about, the easy answer is use the SORN, I have a 1963 MGB and have used the SORN for some time now, so get into SORN.

Lamster says:
3 March 2012

Hi Larry
Sorn is not the problem Not if you intend keeping the car or simply watching the grass grow round it over over the next twenty years. The problem arises if you are trying to sell a car that has been sorned Say you have a rare car that is road worthy but the mot has expired because its been layed up for 12months for repairs/restoration you know it would pass an MOT if you could get it to the test center but other than trailering it there and back there is no legal way to do so unless your a trader. At least under the old system you could cover the no tax element by pre booking the test some insurance companies say it is ok to drive to a test some say definatly not without a current mot. I suspect if you had an accident the ones that say yes would wash their hands and leave you on your own As it happens my old car is sorned still has mot on it. And wasn’t sold because I couldn’t offer a test drive to any prospective buyers as it wasn’t insured, and I wasn’t prepared to sell for an amount less than it was worth so I kept it. Sitting there eventually it will develope a problem and won’t start and some one will end up giving me £100 for scrap its not worth a great deal maybe £1000 but no one will pay that unless they drive it and convince themselves that its worth that money. I know most cars we buy privatly we are most likely not covered to test drive the and we take a risk but in the old days your car didn’t get siezed and taken for disposal.

Extremelyupset says:
30 October 2012

Hi nevertellanyone.
Your right insurance on petrol is not the way to go. But maybe Tax is that would level the playing field. If you drive a gas guzzler then you pay more just like you do now with the £475 per year for said cars.
Maybe something more radical like new number plates but instead of a dealers name it has you insurance policy number and the expiry date on it or a bar code that the police can read. and when you go to collect the plate you have to show a valid mot for the vehicle.

Now today the Tories have announced plans to levy tax on what roads we use so if you have a little 850cc band B car and you run it up and down the motorway you’ll pay the £475 rate if you already pay that rate then you can drive anywhere so no increase if you Drive a Bently Merc or a Jag.
So what this means is if you want to pay the ammont you pay now you’ll have to stick to minor roads to get to work or go on holiday so your 3hr getaway drive becomes 17hrs when your stuck on a “B” road with all the other people that want to pay lower tax? Out of touch? time for a chage me thinks

Sam says:
19 June 2013

Hello everyone.

Got a question for you all… I’m leaving the country next month and want to sell my car whoe’s MOT and TAX is due in June 2013. I have already cancelled my insurance so what options do I have to sell the car? Should I get it taxed? I am new and don’t know much about the law but what I red above is scary.
I will really appreciate if someone can guide me step by step about what should I do to sell the car before I leave the country.

Mervyne says:
16 April 2015

Iv just bought a car,but have no v5 documents as the car is from a dead persons estate and was sold at auction,I’m the new owner.I have insured the car but can’t tax it because having no document,the £25 fee for new documents has been paid and sent off,,but I am informed it could take up to six weeks,
While this car is insured can it be parked on the roadside without the tax.
Please comment.

Hi Mervyne, thanks for your post about the new car you’ve recently bought. To my knowledge, with no V5 or car tax, the insurance is invalid because they’re both linked with one another.

In this respect, I’d strongly suggest that you to take this up with your car insurer. It’s best to keep written correspondence confirming they’ll insure the vehicle whilst you’re waiting for the documents.

In the meanwhile, we’d recommend not parking the car on the road. Just to add, a valid MOT is linked with insurance, so it’s best checking this too.

Busby says:
25 April 2015

purchased a new van so changed my insurance from my old car. Car is currently on my drive still with tax and mot as it was supposed to be going to a member of the family I did not declare it off the road. I’m now fuming that I have recently received a fine for not being insured. Have now had to put the car up for sale but confused about sorn as then it would be illegal for anyone to test the car. I was simply going to put it on my insurance as and when required for test drives. It seems either way I’ll get done. I can’t see why I should pay for insurance that will only be used for 5 or 10 minutes at a time yet if I don’t I have to try to sell it without letting people test it.

You do not have to have insurance (or tex) to keep a vehicle on the drive or in a garage, but you must make a SORN to avoid being fined, as you have discovered. Someone else could drive a vehicle under their own insurance, albeit with only third party cover, but obviously not if it is has been declared to be off the road.

That’s the law. Even though it sounds tough, there are very good reasons.

Clare says:
18 May 2017

Our car was taxed and insured but the mot was out. We live in a housing association house with private parking. The housing group put a notice on our car saying it would be taken away as no mot which we didn’t see as assuming it was removed by kids. Not knowing this at the time we reported it stolen to the police. Finally two weeks later we find out the the housing group has not only taken it but destroyed our £6000 van without notifying us the owners. Can they do this?

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