/ 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?


At present to have insurance you also need to have a driving licence if you no driving licence then any insurance you may have is not valid so if the suggestion is that we are all given free insurance via a another duty on petrol will it cover those without a driving licence also why should we insure high risk drivers at the same price as the average driver

The new rules have now come into force, so make sure you’re all up-to-date with your insurance, or have declared your car as being off-the-road. The BBC has a good video run down of the issue: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13836645

A friend had their car in their garage and unused for about six weeks before they could afford to have an MOT test, pay for the road tax and insurance. Hopefully they did a SORN declaration.

I wonder what would happen if this happens to someone with no garage or drive to keep their car. I wonder how many people are breaking the law by keeping an uninsured car on the road even if they are not driving it.

Well at least one million drive uninsured.

A few years ago my Council (after massive protests) started to remove uninsured cars parked on the side roads – I believe they store them for a week before disposing of the car. Now there are no illegal cars parked on the road – at least locally. I know because I note tax discs and report them to the Council for removal. Now I had no idea if they were “insured” except to say that no current tax disc means not insured. In all honesty I have some sympathy for those without parking spaces – but I will continue to report them.

Why? – because since the tightened regulations applied by the Council – the number of parked cars locally has reduced significantly. I like that.

Driving is a privilege – not a right – so pay up!..

Richard: My post refers to unused cars, and not to people driving uninsured cars.

Wavechange – so did mine – The cars were left on the road – unused and uninsured – The reason we knew they were unused is they didn’t move from one week to another. Many were dumped after being stolen – others were simply parked unused. That is precisely why there was a massive protest – Those that had a legal car were unable to park. Now they can.

Claire says:
20 June 2011

I’m not against declaring my car as SORN, but what annoys me is if for some reason I’d bought my car tax and lets say I broke my ankle 8.5 months into that tax period, and couldn’t drive for 6 weeks, I couldn’t just take my car off the road and stop the insurance (to save me some money when all I’d have coming in is SSP, which lets face it is naff all), I’d have to declare my car as SORN to avoid a fine and not get the full amount of what the tax is actually worth ‘refunded’ to me, and then before I could drive my car again I’d have to get at least 6 months tax for my car, which would be a massive strain after a lengthy time off work. It’s ridiculous! As an example of what I am talking about, lets say this scenario happened in the middle of June, and I had to have the rest of June off and the first 3 weeks of July, I’d have to buy tax for the whole of July and the refund would have only been from the end of June, so effectively, I’d still have to pay for the car tax for all of the time I was off in June and July. What would be the point in that??? It’s just more paperwork, more hassle, and undoubtedly more ****-up’s will occur, and worse still, I’d just be losing money pointlessly at a time when I would need it the most… This whole idea has been given no proper thought, because as usual, the people who make up these rules and regulations may be educated up to the eyeballs, but they just don’t don’t have any common sense…

AnnaBee says:
20 June 2011

I agree that uninsured drivers are a menace but insuring everyone through a fuel levy means that when the levy is increased (as it inevitably will be) due to big claims caused by reckless drivers, that I, who has never made a claim in my entire driving life, will be paying for their bad driving. I would object to paying the same premium as, say, a 20 year-old, just qualified, driver who, currently, might pay 10 times the insurance that I pay as they are a much greater accident risk.

AJ says:
20 June 2011

What a pointless exercise, again those not living in the real world are making up laws which cannot work. Like expecting drug dealers to throw away their guns by making it illegal to have one, or stopping car “ringing” by making it harder to buy “legal” number plates. This “new” law relies on the owner of a car registering it, which is easy enough not to do. If stopped by police a fake name and address and story of “I just bought it” gives the driver 7 days grace. A better law would be to make it compulsory for the driver of a car to carry his driving licence AND insurance with him at all times when driving. At least then the next time someone hits my car I can reasonable expect him or her to have documentary evidence of who they are.

The whole point of the new law is – they will no longer have 7 days to produce documentation – the police will now be able to seize the car at the scene of stoppage – because now every car must be insured and consequently on the database or be subject to seizure. Fantastic incentive to comply.

In the unused car cases a letter will be sent to the last registered owner and they must produce proof of any new owner or pay £100 fine or declare it off the road – if no reply after 2nd demand a £1000 fine. It is your duty as the last registered owner to inform the DVLA of any change – and now you will have to face a fine of up to £1000 if you “forget” – a wonderful reminder!!

I am in favour!

The new regs make it much easier to enforce the insurance requirement.
There is no longer a “grey” area or get out of a car being off the road – in the driveway or garage – and no insurance being required .
So any car where ever it is should be insured and taxed or SORNed – straightforward to enforce.

It can all be done by computer as well – just a check that all registered cars have road fund licence, MOT ( if necessary), and insurance or are SORNed.

Stu says:
20 June 2011

My enquiry is I’m soon to be selling my car privately after I get my newer car, with this in mind and from reading all the comments, I take it I have to run 2 insurance policies until I sell the car? Once the car is sold and I cancel my insurance policy on that car, what happens if the new owner hasn’t got insurance for the car, is it the sellers duty to not release the car until they show proof of insurance, as it takes anything from a week to a month for dvla to change the owners details, who becomes liable then, I fully understand the theory behind this and glad to see a clamp down on these people who deliberately fail to insure there vehicle when used on the roads.

Claire says:
20 June 2011

Yes, gone will be the days when you might be able to buy or sell a car with mot and tax…

As I understand it you will have to inform the DVLA of the change of ownership – just as you should now – Excellent way of reminding you to do so isn’t it? Forget and face a £1000 reminder – yeah!

Stu: Have a word with your insurance company and they should be able to make arrangements at a sensible price. I have done this twice when I have bought a new car before selling the old one.

Larry Stuart says:
20 June 2011

I have a classic MGB, and when not in use I always apply for a SORN and keep my car in my drive, I have no problem with this and it is always the way everyone should go, insurance companies are the biggest rip off merchants known to all, they charge the earth and do not always cover all the costs involved in an accident, the dreaded small print.
we should always read the “small print” so as not to be caught out, once read if you do not like the do’s and dont’s insure with some other honest company.

Stu says:
20 June 2011

With regards to wave change, what I fail to understand is how long do you keep the insurance going on the car you sell, just to save yourself a huge headache of receiving a letter with a fine because the new owner didn’t take out insurance, cause as we all know, we send off the soca for owner change and it can take a while for the changes to take place, there is nothing in place to make the change immediately, if that does happen it’s not the easiest of tasks to prove you are not the owner at the time, it has been well documented that innocent people have had to pay fines for untaxed cars even though they sold them and soca had been sent in, solicitors advice? Pay the fine you won’t win!

There should be no problem if you and the purchaser sign the registration document and you send it to DVLA. Keep a copy of the form as evidence in case it is lost in the post.

As soon as you hand over the car you can phone the insurance company and let them know you no longer need cover.

karll says:
21 June 2011

Richard: I agree with a lot of what you say and cant see a problem with sorn for a vehicle which is not being used as it takes just a few minutes to do online, but you are wrong to report all vehicles not displaying a current tax disc for the following reasons. All my familly tax our cars on line and this means our new tax disc takes up to five days to arrive, so our cars which are taxed, insured and have Mot’s will sometimes display a out of date tax disc but we are all legal and the Police and Council dont do anything to us. So i think you need to think about this before you report a car for not displaying a up to date tax disc.

Sorry – disagree – If a car that is on the road that is not displaying a current Tax Disc it is breaking the law – pure and simple. I report them because then the authorities can access their database which I don’t have – check any “delays” and decide what action to take. But I report any illegal cars. Just as I report any potential burglary – I don’t arrest them I report their suspicious activity and get the police to investigated – It’s called Neighbourhood Watch.

If someone has applied and not received a Tax disc – a little note on the car could alleviate problems – So that we would keep an eye on it until the proper tax disc is displayed.

As I said – ever since the reporting of dumped cars and cars without current tax discs here – the number of unnecessary cars in the neighbourhood has plummeted – a coincidence? No. The council removes them within a week – This means legal parkers have far more room to park – and far more spaces in the roads to avoid crashes – or avoid idiot pedestrians crossing without looking – Better all round. I really don;t need to think about it – the police do..

karll says:
21 June 2011

Richard: as i have said i agree with a lot of what you state, but you need to look up the DVLA or Directgov web site and it states that there is now an exemption for not displaying a current Tax disc for the first 5 days if you have purchased it from the online web site. You say in your reply that by not having a new tax disc you are breaking the Law-Pure and simple, but im sorry you are wrong- Pure and simple. It seems you may be more of a nosy neighbour than a helpful neighbourhood watch. This is why the new rules about having to SORN your car if it is not insured is a good idea as it makes it very clear to all.

Hopefully no-one would report a car within five days of the expiry.. Of course the best option is to apply for the road tax a week before it expires. 🙂

Sorry – you have missed the point – I am not a “nosy parker” but a concerned citizen of the neighbourhood watch. So if I see a non current Tax Disc – I note it – if it is still there a week later I report it. The Council then decides to take action – not I. The council has access to the Tac Data Base not I. Frankly if more citizens took similar action – we wouldn’t have over 1 million uninsured drivers.

Some 10 years ago our council decided to charge a resident’s parking fee – fine – But there were so many non residents illegally parking – that we could not park in our relatively short road.- In addition some abandoned cars were often torched – with possible damage to neighbouring cars – So a petition was launched leading to an agreement that “illegally” parked cars would be removed – We did a survey – Twenty One cars were found (five by a person running an illegal on road “garage”!!!)

These twenty one cars were removed (leading to six cars being returned to their rightful owners) – 21 x 14 feet = 291 feet of space where we as rightful legal owners could use to park now our cars. So instead of having to park around 1 mile away we could park in our street.

Since that time few illegal cars are found in our or local streets – so much better for us. If they are they are removed within 7 days.

Finally – may I point out you are reminded to renew your tax around 2 or 3 weeks beforehand – so there is no excuse whatever not to renew before it runs out – I do – why don’t you?.

Maurice says:
25 June 2011

It’s 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).” The directgov page referred to says that you don’t have to insure (or SORN) a laid-up vehicle if it has never had to be SORNed — in other words, “if your vehicle has been kept off-road since before SORN came into force on 31 January 1998 – unless it was brought back into use”. I have a garaged car that was last taxed, insured and used in 1989, so I was relieved to discover that I don’t suddenly have to SORN it (still less insure it) this week!

I am waiting to take my two part full motorcycle test and have bought a Bike ready for when I pass. Most motorcycle insurers won’t insure the bike for me until I pass my test. Those that will, which allow me from a week to a month to pass the test, want £100 pounds more for the insurance than if I ask for a quote with the test already taken! So how easy is it to SORN a bike the moment you buy it before the registration docment is sent off to confirm change of owner?


Your registration document has two parts – so it is possible to SORN your motorcycle before getting the completely new registration document back – Just phone the DVLA for detailed advice – extremely quick, easy and friendly. But only the holder of the registration document who can SORN it. In your case it seems as though a couple of days grace would occur to allow document transfer..

But I’m having a bit of difficulty with the test bit – I thought you had to be insured to ride before taking the test – using L plates. In all honesty your predicament is no different from mine many years ago as a learner motorcycle rider. I paid the extra premium as I was a learner driver or be uninsured – built up my no claims discount over the next few years.

I think you are just complaining that you have to pay £100 additional premium for being a learner driver – that has been the case for over 50 years to my knowledge.

Quote: “…and the idea of crushing their cars when they’re caught on the road (especially when they are habitual offenders) is a great one.”

No, no, no!

This is grossly unfair. People should be treated equally and fairly under the law. If I’d been driving uninsured three months ago, crushing my car would have cost me around £5,000. If I drive uninsured next week, crushing my car will cost me just under £20,000 (I’ve bought a new car). Same person, same offence, quadruple the fine?

And I’m sure I’ve read that the overwhelming majority of uninsured cars are old ‘bangers’ worth no more than a couple of hundred pounds. Which seems pretty obvious when you think about it.

Utter nonsense

You are punished for “being uninsured on the road” – It has nothing to do with how much you paid for your car!!! The punishment can be crushing your car – Fantastic!! If you don’t want to chance your car being crushed – Insure it! Simples

If you break into a house – the punishment does not depend on how expensive your burglary tools are – it is the act that you are punished for.

Or Speeding – if it is an old car you get a higher penalty? Nonsense!

It is grossly fair to have the same punishment for the same crime!!

Phil H says:
3 July 2011

Crushing a car is a waste, regardless of whether it’s recycled or not; there’s far more energy used in recovering, dismantling, crushing and recycling a car than there is if it’s simply not crushed in the first place, so that point is rather redundant. I’m utterly against crushing cars anyway, as it’s such a wasteful exercise; surely there’s better options for punishing the owner?

What happens if a friend drives my car, after assuring me he’s insured, only for me to find he isn’t. Could my car get crushed for his mistake?

I’m still also against the new rules, that I’m now breaking, as I don’t see any reason why my car should be insured when it’s currently parked in a garage, with no gearbox in place, while I work on it. I’m not going to bother SORNing it, as I’ll then just have to un-SORN it in a few weeks. If I SORN it now, I’ve already paid for July’s tax so won’t get that back. I will then have to re-tax it later this month, meaning I’ll have to pay twice for July!

Uninsured cars should not be on the public roads, something I 100% agree with. But why criminalise me because I choose to repair a car? Why waste more energy in crushing perfectly usable cars?

Sorry if you “can’t be bothered” to SORN your car – then it must be insured – to make it far more difficult for those uninsured drivers already on the road. There is no argument.

As for crushing cars – if it takes more old unsafe cars off the road the better it is – because they are usually also not MOT’ed or taxed.

No-one is criminalising you because you repair a car – they are criminalising you because your car is not insured. – SORN it

If you allow someone to drive your car without insurance – you are partly to blame. You should have asked to see their certificate of driving insurance – Ignorance is no plea in law. Though I doubt if your car would be crushed.

I have to add – my friends have always checked my insurance before allowing me to drive their car – It is called being responsible.

toby says:
10 July 2011

richard im a young driver, 22 years old my insurance (fully comp) is £1500 a year, i recently decided to change my car to an lpg converted car, greener, but if i buy my new car, my old one that i have just had new mot and 6 months tax put on it to make it easy to sell, will become a pain in the *ss to sell.

selling a sorned car….
they pay me for the car,
go through the prosses of getting an insurance cert……
go to the post office…
get a tax disc…….
come all the way back to collect the car.

versus the car is on my drive UNUSED and yes UN INSURED the person pays me for it changes there insurance or insures it. and leaves me with a wad of cash. 🙂
also what would you suggest someone in my situation without a driveway but do have a residential parking space do?

so in a world where i dont happen to have the income to afford insuring 2 cars for around £2200 a YEAR what would you sugest i do?

or should i just call up dvla and ask them to crush 2500 pounds worth of car because its “old”?


Finally – may I point out you are reminded to renew your tax around 2 or 3 weeks beforehand – so there is no excuse whatever not to renew before it runs out – I do – why don’t you?

we dont all have 240 pounds or even 130 pounds in the middle of the month some of us lower class people just about manage to pay all these bull888ite taxes, and honestly if i ever saw somone peering over my car with a little notepad id show them how well my pressure washer works 😀 (live in london someone peering into your car never good!)

sorry to rant all but now i am between a hardplace and a rock. the govenment is making it harder for those with a low income, middle class and above probably havent even broken a sweat over this crap!

I’m sorry – I really disagree with you – My fully comp insurance is around £1600 a year too and I’m an OAP.- so I get 75% discount due to no accidents for over 50 years.. But I plan beforehand – If I know I am going to buy a newer car – I make sure that I save the £240 required beforehand. If you can afford to buy a newer car – you can afford to save for the extras needed. What you really mean is “I don’t want to be bothered” – The trouble is the over 1Million uninsured drivers make it necessary..

All the changes can be made on-line or telephone.and are instantly applied – equally most insurance companies I’ve used will issue a temporary cover note to cover a car instantly. Directly you’ve applied by telephone or on-line you are covered legally. So could be done at your home – Even the insurance cover note for the buyer – provided they have a valid credit card.. It is actually very easy – and the telephone help by the DVLA is superb. The new owner could then drive it home themselves.

So – SORN the car if off road – if not you need it to be insured – but not fully comp – try third party only – cheaper – opt to, pay monthly much cheaper and easier to cancel. Discuss this with your insurance company. The MOT and Tax are immaterial if the car is on the road already as you’ve paid for it already. You’ve just got to pay for your newer car expenses. Then you comply with the law..

I do find this rather ludicrous – as it has always been the case if you own two cars parked on the road that both cars have to be insured – MOT – TAX – the only change now is if the unused car is off the road it needs insuring or SORNed..

Finally – I live in the East End of London – and have done for 40 years. It was the residents that wanted the untaxed cars removed from our parking restricted road. That’s why we started the petition. They are now glad that we no longer have abandoned or stolen cars – or untaxed cars cluttering up our road so that permit holders cannot park in their own street. We can now park easily. So sorry – my neighbours are in favour of our Neighbourhood Watch team. Keeps criminal damage and burglaries down too. You try living on the state Old Age Pension!!!

If you did use a pressure washer – you would be done for aggravating behaviour or something similar.

You do not need to insure the extra car for a year – it can be paid monthly until you sell it. Frankly unless you want it to be crushed and it is on the road – then it needs to be MOT TAX and insured – I really don’t think it will be a pain to sell – unless it is a load of old rubbish.

toby says:
10 July 2011

oh and has anyone seen hot fuzz the film richard would have been a good replacement for the old guy with all the cameras spying in the town for “the greater good” pmsl

Interesting – Our Neighbourhood Watch scheme has detected and averted burglaries – criminal damage including car thefts – assaults and abuse – and OAPs in crisis – nobody seems to think we are snooping then – in fact they are full of praise..

Only criminals seem to worry about the reporting of illegal cars – I wonder why?

andrewjones says:
13 July 2011

To all of you who cannot see a problem with this new law. It Is the driver of the CAR that has to have insurance NOT the car itself. So under new LAW the car has to be covered as well.
Let us say I am taken ill with cancer my TAX and MOT are 6 months part from the insurance date. The car and sit on my drive until the insurance runs out. Then I be hit with a fine or lose my car. WHY? So I am not driving it I have paid for the TAX. Lets say my wife is going to work every day and then coming to see me in her car. And some hit her car or it breaks down. So she needs a car I am happy for her to drive my car on her insurance with only 3rd party cover. So under the old law no law was been broken as she still has the legal minimum need to drive. But with the new law I have insure my car even if I am ill and cannot drive. The same can be said for a mom, dad, brother and so on.
Or let say I the family car she only a small run about. Hard to get 3 kids and her in the a small with the shopping and so on.

Has any every tried getting insurance on a car when ill in hospital some now they just will no insure you.

This is nothing more than getting as much tax due off every car in the land as they can.