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Man without car insurance after accident
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What happens if I drive without insurance?

Car insurance is something that, until it is needed, can seem more of an inconvenience than a practical purchase. However, it is a very necessary requirement and goes a long way towards keeping all road users safe and looked after should the worst happen.

In this article, we explore what can happen if you drive without car insurance, why you need it, when you don’t and much more.

Why do you need car insurance?

Car insurance ensures that if there is an accident whilst you are on the road, whether your fault or not, all parties are covered for any financial costs incurred. According to the ‘Continuous Insurance Enforcement’ in the Road Traffic Act 1998, a person must have at least third-party insurance cover when driving.

Your insurance covers not only yourself, but other people, so if you are to cause an accident you will be able to support those affected by way of insurance. This goes the other way around as well; if someone hits you, they would be able to pay for the repairs needed through their insurance policy.

Getting caught without car insurance in the UK

Police motorbike

How will the police know if I’ve not got car insurance?

Number plate recognition scanners are set up all around the UK and are constantly scanning the registrations of the cars on the road. These scanners are linked to the Motor Insurance Database (MID), so when they pick up a car that isn’t registered as being insured it will be flagged.

Because of this automated system, most people driving without insurance will not be picked up manually but by machine, making avoiding detection near-impossible.

If you are pulled over for a routine traffic stop or for a driving violation by police, your registration will also be searched in the MID and they will know then whether you are insured or not.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance in the UK?

According to Gov.uk, the potential penalties for driving without insurance in the UK are: “The police could give you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if you’re caught driving a vehicle you’re not insured to drive.

If the case goes to court, you could get:

  • an unlimited fine
  • disqualified from driving

The police also have the power to seize, and in some cases, destroy the vehicle that’s being driven uninsured.”

Will I get a criminal record for driving without car insurance?

As driving without insurance is not an imprisonable offence, if you are found to be driving without insurance it will not be added to your criminal record.

It will, however, be added to your driving license as an IN10 endorsement and will need to be disclosed to any and all insurance providers for four years after conviction.

When you can and cannot have insurance

UK street with parked cars

When is it okay to not have car insurance?

If you have a car that is being driven on public roads or parked on public roads you should always have car insurance. There are a few reasons that may mean you are not convicted if you are found to be driving without insurance, these are:

  • your insurance policy has been cancelled by the provider without you being notified
  • your insurance policy is not valid due to an issue caused by the provider
  • you have been incorrectly informed that you are insured to drive a car
  • you have a valid reason to believe you are insured to drive that vehicle

These reasons are not excusing but cause mitigating circumstances that would have to be proven, and all rely on you believing you are insured to drive.

Do I need car insurance if my car is parked?

If your car is parked on a public roadside then it will need to be insured, even if you are not planning to drive it for an extended period of time. This is because, although you may not be using it, it could still be involved in an accident and must be covered.

When don’t I need car insurance?

The only times you are not required to have insurance on a vehicle is when:

  • the vehicle is parked on, and only used on private land that has no public access
  • the vehicle is declared off-road (SORN)
  • the vehicle is between registered keepers and registered as ‘in trade’ with the DVLA
  • the vehicle has been scrapped, stolen or exported

These are the only circumstances where a vehicle will not need to be insured. All other times, even when not being driven, a vehicle should be insured.

Having an accident whilst uninsured

Man after having a car accident

What happens if I am in an accident whilst uninsured?

If you cause an accident whilst driving without insurance, you will have to pay for any of your own repairs, and potentially repairs for others involved out of your own pocket. You will also face a penalty for driving without insurance.

What happens if I am hit by an uninsured driver?

If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you should follow the normal protocol of what to do after a car accident. You should take as many details as you are able to from the driver, and about the incident, taking pictures if you are able.

If the driver refuses to give you any details, we suggest taking their licence number and getting in touch with the MID, as well as the police.

Don’t worry if you are in an accident and the other driver is uninsured, the Motor Insurer’s Bureau may be able to offer you compensation to help towards any payments you’ll need to make.

We hope this guide has answered all the questions you may have about why you have to have car insurance and what could happen if you don’t. If you need to bridge the gap between two annual policies or want to drive someone else’s car for a small amount of time, our temp insurance can get you covered in as little as 15 minutes – perfect for making sure you are insured.

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