/ 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?

Phil says:
14 June 2011

I don’t see the problem here, if the car isn’t insured it can’t legally be used on the public roads so why pay the road tax? Declaring a SORN doesn’t cost anything and as with road tax can be done online.

They have some sort of insurance levy in Australia but I don’t believe it’s exactly been a runaway success.

Phil Huff says:
20 June 2011

I have a random fleet of cars. Sometimes they’re taxed but not insured, sometimes insured but not taxed, although rarely for more than around a month. Yes, it sometimes means I’m throwing away a small amount of money, but I prefer that than to declare a SORN, reclaim the tax, then go and tax the vehicle two weeks later because I’ve finished fiddling with it, or even run the risk of driving a SORN’d vehicle on the roads as I’ve not bothered to reclaim the tax and assumed the now invalid tax disc in the window shows it’s good to go.

Yes, I’m definitely in a minority of people who a) have a ‘fleet’ and b) take them off-road for a few weeks at a time but it doesn’t mean I have to like the new policy.

It’s a simple concept. If it’s not on the road, whether tax or not, SORN’d or not, it has never need insurance. Why change that now?

CJ says:
29 June 2011

Yes, but if the car is taxed, declaring it SORN means weighing the tax in, which you don’t get the nearly the full amount back for, a little extra for the government coffers.

It’s just more government meddling, and if you’re like me and like to own something else now and then this has made it more of a pain in the ‘arris and more expensive for the good of justice and upholding the law as it were, the only thing is the honest ones amongst us will get the shaft even more while the less honest out there will continue to rip the pee regardless. I mean, what’s a few more fines you can’t pay for plus a few more court appearances which you don’t turn up for, get arrested for and bailed for eh?

Not a slight towards your comments Phil, but I feel most would agree that this government are really stepping up the march towards a total big brother state.

Quote from Chris:

“Yep another piece of pointless legislation that will enable the legalised mugging of ten people who have really done nothing wrong for every real offender”

Could not agree more, that’s exactly how I see it.

Phil says:
3 July 2011

I wouldn’t have thought the little lost on cashing in a tax disc would be more than the cost of renewing an insurance policy (minimum three months?) which also contributes to the Government’s coffers.

wow, more genius thinking at the DfT

although I prefer their idea rather than your TAX on TAX on TAX

Do you work for the government? 🙂

I just remembered…..

It’s also a £1000 fine if you don’t update your drivers licence with your current address….

Mine has had my folks address on it since I was 17, many policemen have seen my licence (to endorse it or confiscate it) and no-one has ever said anything. I wonder how well the policing of that law has worked out? Probably about as much as this new law.

It’s more about treating the symptoms rather than the cause. The government appears to accept that we live in a heavily litigious country and is happy to pander to that. I for one am not, and see this as another case of penalising the honest person where others make a mockery of the system.

Phil says:
14 June 2011

Penalising how?

read the article 😉

ross says:
22 June 2011

Yes i too have shown my drivers licence to the police many times (which has my inlaws address on it because i lost my old one & they wanted me to pay for a new one. I noticed it was free to change adress so changed it to the inlaws, ha beat the gov there din I lol) & have been told it is a £1000 fine, so i asked what the fine was for not having my papers in the car & also the fine for not having a man infront of my car waving a white flag! , he was’nt sure & let me go on my way & left him red faced. If your going to make stupid laws lets make sure we all know wots wot.

Your driver’s licence only needs an address through which you can be contacted. So if you are moving around a lot having parents address on it might be sensible.

I agree with Phil declaring SORN even for short periods is easy so I think the extra hassle for a small minority of motorists is well worth it if it makes a significant reduction in the number of un-insured vehicles on the road.

>>> It’s not really anybody’s business but the owner’s if a car is kept on private land. <<<

It is once the car is registered with the DVLA, making it road legal. Why would anyone do that, unless they intend to use the car on the public highway at some point? If they change their mind, or they acquire a pre-registered vehicle, they need to fill in a SORN. End of.

Yep another piece of pointless legislation that will enable the legalised mugging of ten people who have really done nothing wrong for every real offender.
Just like the SORN system.
I tax my car and the DVLA knows, the tax runs out and of course the DVLA knows, both the DVLA and I know the car cannot be even parked on the highway, the Police also know because they have access to the DVLA database (along with God knows who else). But no I have to tell the DVLA what they already know. If I don’t I’m fined. How does this help anything?
I insure my car and this information is added to a database which the DVLA and the Police have access to (along with God knows who else I also expect). The insurance runs out and I have to declare SORN or I’m fined (or worse) regardless of the car being securly off the highway. How does this help anything?
Villains won’t get caught they’re all driving around with numberplates carrying the same registration as a legal car living 200 miles away. This is how come so many people get turned over for the London congestion charge when they’ve never even taken their car there.

This will not solve the problem of uninsured drivers anymore than the SORN system prevents untaxed cars.
The nearest but by no means fool proof way of reducing the number of uninsured drivers is to charge for basic insurance with a tax disc. This can vary in price by type of car and the age and experience of the registered keeper. (there’s enough tax on tax on petrol already, and an insurance levy on petrol cannot adjust for the car or the driver)

With insurance more closely linked to the tax disc the Police job of detecting untax and uninsured cars would then be surely much easier?
And we might get rid of all the other nonsense like SORN and this continuous insurance lunacy.

As far as I’m concerned – if you declare your car off the road – there is no charge – but DVLA need to know where it is – If it on or off the road undeclared or uninsured or without the MOT – it needs to be crushed.

No question about it!

why does it need to be crushed? surely that car is a parts goldmine, if you are that way inclined

My friend used to do this, he bought one mini clubman, blew the engine up, bought another mini, took the engine out, declared it as SORN and then used the engine in his old car.

Then he blew that engine and did the same again and again, creating a huge mini parts bin in his parents garage, I believe that pile of mini parts is still there to this day 🙂

Basically it is an illegal object – if crushed will not be used again as an illegal car – But most scrap yards recover useful items from scrapped cars before they are totally crushed anyway.. I want only properly taxed, MOT, insured,. with a legal driver, on the road. It’ll be safer – I’m in favour of safety.

If the car is declared off the road you will still be able to do what your friend did..

I know we hate change in this country (sorry, let me re-phrase that, I know most people hate change in this country) but how about applying a different solution to this problem? Just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it should be destroyed. that’s such an out-dated mentality.

How about flogging it to someone on the condition they have the insurance ready for it? And then use the profits to fund road safety initiatives.

With respect that’s nonsense.
Why do the DVLA need to know where a car is, other than if it’s on or off the road? (and declaring SORN doesn’t tell them exactly where it is anyway). If the tax has run out legally it must be off road. The DVLA know when the tax has run out, they issued the disc, why do we need to tell them what they already know?
And, how does telling the DVLA what they already know (declare SORN) prevent that car from being taken onto the road anyway?
If you have no insurance you cannot get a tax disc so there is a clue as to if the car is insured or not.
And, even with this contiuous insurance nonsense what is to stop a car, declared SORN, being taken onto the road with no tax and no insurance?
All the villain needs to do is change the plates, perhaps a steal a tax disc and it all looks legal.
No, all the continuous insurance rule will do, like the SORN has already done is enable the authorities to fine people who really have done nothing wrong other than forget to follow the paperchase. It won’t catch many if any offenders.
People who really want to drive around with no tax or insurance are going to just make their cars “look” legal, by illegal means, and there are still plenty of ways to do that.

Chris – Sorry I think you are wrong – You see there are over 1 Million uninsured car on the road now – so the present system you describe does not work. The idea of each car either being insured or declared off road (which is free) is great – because then registration, MOT etc should be easier for the owner to “remember”. .

To say that all they’ve done is “to forget to follow the paperwork” is totally ludicrous – if that failure results in an untraceable, unsafe, and uninsured car often with an unlicensed driver – which is exactly what happens now . I want this to stop – and transgressors punished – preferably by a £1000 so to make it “easier to remember” – and the car crushed to remove the usually cheap cars from the market so that potential car owners are not ‘persuaded’ that it is not worth it to Insure Tax or MOT this car again (costs too much comparatively as happens now

I fail to see why I should bother to Tax – Insure – MOT – take a test – when 1 million can’t be bothered.
I fail to see why I should have my insurance increased to subsidise those that do not insure their cars.- I fail to see why I could suffer the consequences in a crash with an uninsured driver.

Fat Sam’s proposal would not work simply because many of the 1 million uninsured drivers already take out insurance but stop paying the premium – rendering them uninsured now but on the database.

There are far too many uninsured cars illegally parked on the roads. Used to happen here until the council tightened up it’s regulation. Now dumped or uninsured cars are removed in one week..

Driving is a privilege – not a right – so pay for it like everyone else. That means paying for insurance Tax MOT and current driving license, No excuses.

I do not condone illegal activities just because some people commit them – I want them punished. This is one of the steps to do so. .

Richard – would it work if the conditions stipulated that all the insurance had to be paid upfront and there would be no refund? To me that’s just detail. The principle I’m trying to highlight is the idiocy of destroying a, potentially, perfectly safe car just because one of its owners in its lifetime didn’t have insurance? I’m guessing that insurance dodgers don’t all drive clapped out old Cavaliers and Escorts but that some, if not most, of these cars are perfectly road legal bar the lack of insurance.

That same vehicle could be sold to a law-abiding owner on the premise that they have paid for the non-refundable insurance and they must keep the car for x number of years. The deal could be made more attractive by offering a small discount, or whatever (details). The money made could then be used by the authorities to pay for traffic-related services. Either for more services or subsidising existing ones to reduce the burden on taxpayers (details).

I’ve hardly any breath left to even mention the total waste in energy manufacturing the car or the fact it will end up in landfill.

I don’t see any benefit in destroying the vehicle just because the OWNER has failed to pay the insurance. That seems ludicrous to me. Completely ludicrous.

Fat Sam

First of all the crushed cars are not put into landfill – but re-cycled – saves the environment too.

To me it’s simple – There should be no uninsured cars on the road.ever. Now if everyone with a car, insured it for the entire time it was on the road there would not be a problem. But over one million do NOT. That is around 1 in 14 drivers – totally ridiculous.

Police do not drive around streets looking for illegal cars – so if all cars on the road must have insurance – then it will be easier to detect them whilst being driven –

I think it absolutely excellent that in future current owners who do not insure their cars on the road or allow them to be crushed. It is their fault not other legal owners.

Fat Sam, Glos says:
15 June 2011

Is there a legal definition of what is a car? Could you argue that your machine is actually, say, a lawnmower?

I thought you’ve always had to declare a SORN and is that really difficult? What would be a pain is if they forced you to have insurance for a vehicle that you have no intention of taking out on to the public highway.

As for destroying cars that’s just crazy. I’ve always felt those who think they are in a position of authority (generally anyone who wears a uniform) fells they have the right to enforce the rules and not bring common sense into it. By all means sell the cars for parts.

It”s the same with counterfeit clothing – instead of destroying it brand it in large letters as ‘FAKE’ and then give it to people in poor countries like Wales who can’t afford proper clothing. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.

ionlywant trains says:
15 June 2011

I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Declaring your car SORN is hardly the most difficult thing to do. If you haven’t taxed your car, you obviously have no intention of using it legally.

How about thinking about this from the police and DVLA prospective. This new rule means every car must be either taxed or declared SORN. If you do neither your car will pop up on the DVLA computer, so you can be informed, giving you chance to correct the mistake or be fined.
This removes the current grey area where cars are neither taxed or declared SORN and so when spotted by the police could claim that the tax is in the post, which most likely isn’t true. Also, to tax a car you need to have a valid MOT certificate from a registered garage, thus ensuring that (at that time) your car is road worthy.

Mike says:
17 June 2011

We don’t have to have our vehicles insured if they are not on the road. The way out is to submit a SORN as you have said. Not really a problem is it?

Chris Reed says:
17 June 2011

Is the SORN a little bit officious and a bit of a hassle? Yes. But so what? It removes the ambiguity between someone who intentionally takes their car off the road and someone who just forgot after moving house and didn’t receive a renewal notice. Owning a road legal car is a responsibility, with good reasons, and you have to live up to those responsibilities. This is just making something that’s already illegal easier and hopefully cheaper to enforce.

ross says:
22 June 2011

I have to disagree with this one, i have 2 vans for work a family car & a classic car. i have been fined many times for forgeting to declare sorn, however before the sorn i just kept the car in the garage, but it didn’t matter because i was’nt useing the vehicle on the road. Sorn was introduced to collect extra taxes through fines, they worked out that if this sorn was introduced it would create so many extra million, unfortunatly the only people who are penalised are the forgetfull honest as the type of person who won’t pay for tax is also the same person who does’nt register their car in their name (& is also the same person driving around London with your registration plates on their car). SO, it was against the law to drive with no tax & now it is against the law to drive on the road with no tax & the car is declared sorn (or not), how has this stopped people driving with no tax ? it has’nt it just makes the one’s trying to be law abiding bend over & take it up the you know what while all the toe rags just laugh at us.
Now we are all expected to insure cars that are’nt even on the road, so how is that going to stop all the criminals not insureing the cars that are driving around registered in your name with next doors number plates & financed in your 85 year old mothers name ??????
Bend over Britain
P.S I will be parking my fleet on the A30 this weekend in Sennen, there are no yellow lines & if parked both sides will only allow one lane of traffic through. I would like to apligise in advance to the people who this affects but feel we all need to do somthing to stop these stupid TAXES.
Please feel free to join in if you have an opinion on FUEL TAX, SORN TAX, ROAD TAX or ANY OTHER ROAD RELATED TAX you will be most welcome.
Sorry to rant on but we need to do somthing before they bring in somthing stupid like window tax (again)!!!!!!

Roger says:
17 June 2011

I remember the idea of adding a surcharge to petrol to cover 3rd party risks first being mooted some forty years ago. It didn’t happen then and I don’t suppose it will now.
The idea that the more you miles drive and the less fuel efficient your car, the more it will cost has got to be sound. However, the thought of the government running a state sponsored insurance company fills me with dread. Even if they pass the risk on to other insurers they would still take a levy to top up their coffers.

ross says:
22 June 2011

No it will never go on fuel because there is no way of fineing people then !

Martin says:
17 June 2011

Uninsured drivers are a menace. If someone is caught driving uninsured the vehicle should be seized immediately, and destroyed or sold at public auction (if in the unlikely event that it is in a fit state). Drivers should have a heavy penalties applied, and be banned for a minimum of three to five years.
The problem with including third party cover on fuel is why should better drivers with no or low claims subsidise the young poor drivers? And, because there would no incentive to drive well, thus earning NCD. I fear that driving standards would decline further again.

There may be an argument for replacing Vehicle Excise Duty with a levy on fuel.

ross says:
22 June 2011

Of course there is an ergument for putting insurance on fuel & its fair, the more you use your car on the road increases the risk of bieng involved in a crash, so the more you pay simple, although i don’t think it will happen untill the gov works out how to fit a fineing sytem to it

Brian says:
17 June 2011

It is a good idea to force all vehicles to have insurance because the car may be off road for most of the time but it must be very enticing to use that car ‘just for a quick trip down the road’, if other cars are not available. These cars may also need their engines started up, occaisionally, and this could also lead to a ‘quick buzz around the locality’.

Agree – the same with seat belts – too many drivers don’t think it necessary to wear them for a trip “around the corner” – resulting in death or very serious injuries which would have been averted by seat belt use.

Claire says:
20 June 2011

The people who drive uninsured won’t care if the vehicle is taxed either. It’s a pontless new law to reap in more money from people already stretched to their limits.

If people are too stupid not to wear a seat belt and then find they either die (which, I guess they won’t know) or endure serious injury then they probably deserve what they get.

I’m all in favour of improving the gene pool. It’s what Darwin would’ve wanted. Maybe this isn’t such a bad way of achieving it.

Fat Sam – you haven’t thought it through – rather like most of this government’s policies so far.
Any injury or death costs money to the tax payer – either by loss of future tax – or a huge burden on the NHS or police. Why should I pay for such stupidity? Now if you charged each and everyone of them for the costs of the crashes and fined them £1000 plus 10 points on the licence, I’d agree.

But gene pool removals have nothing to do with it. In fact you;d probably find they are intelligent but busy – haven’t you heard of the absent minded professor??

Stupid, but intelligent? Absent-minded professors? Now you’ve really lost me.

if you have thought your idea through you should be able to tell us how much the surcharge on each litre of fuel would be.

Sirgeoffrey says:
17 June 2011

Ban the Tax Disc. Put is on petrol and then the more CO2 you output, the more you pay.

Re the SORN. Its a pain if you want to do it frequently e.g if you go abroad, since VOSA cannot update it quickly enough before you get back, AND they do not take responsibility for it.

Re Insurance: How will NCD be handled? Why should careful people pay 3rd party for frequent crashers.

Solution? Force people to put an insurance disc on the car, and confiscate the car and licence of the person driving it if a tracking device, like the French have on autoroutes, picks up its absence, or a driver is stopped and does not have licence and data matching the disc,

Phil says:
17 June 2011

I get the feeling there are people here who have never put a car on a SORN. It isn’t a hassle, it isn’t officious, it’s as simple as re-taxing. It can be done by phone or online so unless your foreign trip takes you to somewhere where communications really are bad there shouldn’t be any problem.

Will says:
17 June 2011

Annual number plates which carry 1) the vehicle registration number 2) a stamp showing tax has been paid 3) a stamp showing insurance has been paid (and by “stamp” I mean an impression in the metal, so impossible to alter) – this would change everything at a stroke. If you take the car off the road, you hand in the number plates & get a return of any unused tax & insurance. Authorities can see at a glance if vehicles are legal. Pie in the sky?? Well, just cross the channel and see it in action on all French, Belgian, German etc vehicles. For once they just might have a better system than ours…

Somehow I don’t think too many of our 1 million uninsured drivers would be put off by a simple stamp impression – easy enough to forge if so inclined. .

James Friel says:
17 June 2011

We all think that we are living in a democratic country,but we are living in a situation that caused second world war,and thousands of good men died to prevent what is going on in this country at the moment.
The powers that be does not care about ordinary men and women and any protest is quickly put down by the stormtroopers that rule this country with an iron fist.
This new law about car insurance is just another way of imposing their will on us with force, knowing that we have no way of fighting back,but if all people rejected stupid laws like this togather with one voice the outcome would be diffrent. The way to fight back is if the media takes up the cause against these stupid laws and get people to protest before they close the media down as well and take away free speech or what is left of it.

Lets see what happens to the teacher’s strike before we act – after all right is on their side – one union hasn’t ever struck in it’s 125 years history – but from what I read on forums many private sector workers want to bring the teacher’s pensions down to their own poverty levels.

Err – the cause of WW2 was Germany’s insistence on invading other countries for “living room”. Don’t quite see the connection with car insurance?

Keith says:
17 June 2011

I think your idea concerning the levy on fuel is the right idea, I have maintained this method is right for a number of years. I do not think that a driver who rarely uses their car should pay the same as somebody with frequent use as the risk is reduced for the insurance company.

All that happens is a vast increase in fuel smuggling – happened in the last war – and is happening now and actually rising as fuel prices rise. Now if fuel was the same price in all countries you may be right – but not in the present circumstances..