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Driving without insurance
James Armstrong white clock learner driver5 minute read Car Sharing Guides

Driving without insurance: what are the penalties?

Here’s what could happen if you get caught driving without insurance…

James Armstrong

If you’re considering making a quick trip in an uninsured car and thinking “what’s the worst that can happen?” – we’re here to tell you the consequences if you get caught driving without insurance. Spoiler alert: it’s not worth the risk.  

We’re also going to run through some FAQs about when you need to have car insurance to help make sure you don’t get caught out.  

Can you get away with driving without insurance?  

The police use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to catch uninsured drivers on the road. That means they’ll pick up any number plates that don’t have insurance driving on the roads. They use a system called askMID to know which vehicles are covered by insurance.  

If your plate is pulled up as not having insurance, you’ll be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) to let you know that your car isn’t recorded as insured. If this happens and you do have valid insurance, don’t panic. Sometimes it can take up to a week for insurance policies to show on askMID, in which case you can provide your insurance certificate.  

For more information check out our guide to askMID.  

What happens if you’re stopped by the police for driving without insurance?  

If you’re pulled over by the police and they suspect you’re driving without insurance, you’ll be asked to show them proof of your insurance. So it’s a good idea to always have your insurance policy documents handy on your phone. Most insurance companies will have them easily available from your online account.  

If you don’t have them then and there, you have up to 7 days to provide evidence of your insurance with an up-to-date insurance certificate that was valid at the time you were stopped by the police. 

Is it illegal to drive without insurance?  

It’s against the law to drive without insurance which is why these penalties are in place. While you won’t get a criminal record for driving without insurance, it will appear on your driving license and will also show up on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. 

What’s the penalty for driving without insurance?  

The continuous insurance enforcement rule in the Road Traffic Act of 1988 means that all cars must be insured with at least third-party cover. If you’re caught breaking this rule, the minimum penalty you could face is: 

  • A fixed fine of £300 
  • 6 penalty points on your license. 

You’ll also have an IN10 endorsement on your license for four years. This is likely to increase the cost of your insurance so it will end up costing you even more in the long run. Even after the four years is up, you’ll have to disclose the IN10 for a further year to any insurance providers.  

What’s the maximum fine for driving without insurance?  

In more serious cases, the police may decide that your case will need to be handled in court. In this case, the court can issue an unlimited fine and even disqualify you from driving. The police also have the power to seize or destroy the vehicle you were driving.  

How long is the ban for driving without insurance?  

In most cases, if it’s your first offence you won’t get a driving ban. However, if you are taken to court and convicted of an offence for driving without insurance, you could be immediately disqualified from driving.  

The driving ban is generally in the range of 28 days but if you’re a repeat offender it could be a lot longer.  

Are there any special reasons for driving without insurance?  

Sometimes there are ‘special reasons’ for driving without insurance. While they don’t automatically stop you from being found guilty of driving without insurance, they may be taken into account when your penalty is being decided.  

Examples include:  

  • Your provider has cancelled your insurance policy without notifying you 
  • You’ve been wrongly informed that you have valid insurance 
  • Your insurance provider is at fault for your insurance being invalid 

What about if I forget to renew my policy? 

Forgetting to renew your policy and letting it expire is sadly not a valid reason for driving without insurance so you will still be charged. Most insurance companies will automatically renew your policy, and if not they should let you know when it’s going to expire.  

Can you drive a SORN car to MOT without insurance?  

Registering your car as SORN lets the DVLA know that you won’t be driving it anymore. While it’s legal to keep your car uninsured off the road if it’s SORN, you cannot drive a SORN car without insurance.  

If you need to take your car to the garage for MOT and it’s registered as SORN, you can pick up temporary car insurance for as little as 1 hour to make sure you’re covered for your journey. This would need to be for a pre-booked MOT if your car isn’t taxed.

Got an MOT coming up? We’ve got a whole article on MOT checks you might find helpful.

Can I drive a new car home without insurance?  

No, you’ll need insurance to drive your new car home. You can pick up drive away insurance to cover you for your drive home. It’s a great option to make sure you’re insured while you shop around for annual insurance.  

Can I drive someone else’s car without insurance?  

It’s illegal to drive someone else’s car without insurance. However, your own annual insurance policy may offer you third party cover to drive someone else’s car. If you’re not covered, you can always pick up temporary insurance to borrow a friend or family member’s car.  

We’ve got a whole guide about when you can drive someone else’s car which you may find helpful. 

Can you drive a car as a learner without insurance?  

No, it’s still a legal requirement to have insurance if you’re learning to drive. We might be able to help you out with learner driver insurance from 2 hours up to 180 days.  

Make sure you’re covered  

So as you can see there are very few situations when you can drive without car insurance and the penalty for getting caught could be huge. It’s never worth the risk and with temporary cover being so quick and easy to pick up, there’s really no reason not to!  

With our temporary insurance you could get cover on your own car or borrow someone else’s and be on the road in minutes. 

James Armstrong

James is the CEO of Veygo, a leader in short-term car insurance. Former Head of Risk within Admiral Group Insurance and over 15 years in the financial sector. James is keen to learn more about learner drivers, and car drivers in general, to change the world of car insurance and get more people behind the wheel.

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