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Driving without insurance: What is the maximum fine in the UK?

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Not only is it ill-advised to drive without car insurance – you’d have to pay the full costs of any accident yourself – it’s also illegal. Which means you can get in all sorts of trouble if caught.

Below, we detail the maximum fine for driving without car insurance, what other penalties you may face, and how the police can check whether or not you’ve got cover in place.

What’s the maximum fine for driving without insurance?

If you’re caught driving without car insurance, you can be fined £300 and receive six to eight penalty points on your licence. This is officially known as an IN10 driving conviction.

These penalty points will stay on your licence for four years from the date of the offence. If you build up 12 or more points on your licence within a three-year period, you can be banned from driving full stop. For new drivers, the rules are even stricter: if you collect six or more points within two years of passing your test, your licence will be revoked.

You may end up paying a much higher fine, and incurring a more severe punishment, if you have to go to court for driving without insurance. For example, if you were caught without insurance and were drink driving or driving while banned, or if you gave false information to the police when stopped.

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Are there other penalties for driving without insurance?

As mentioned, a £300 fine and at least six penalty points isn’t the maximum penalty you can receive if you’re caught driving without car insurance. In some cases:

  • You could received an unlimited fine if your case goes to court
  • You could be banned from driving for a set period of time; if the ban is longer than 56 days, you will need to apply for a new driving licence
  • Your car could be seized by the police
  • Your car could be destroyed

Since you must disclose your driving convictions to any potential insurance provider, you may also have to pay a much higher premium for the next few years. And with car insurance already so expensive, the last thing you want to do is give an insurer more reason to push the price up.

What is the minimum level of cover required to drive on UK roads?

At the very least, you must have third party car insurance to drive on UK roads. However, you may want more than the legal minimum. That’s because third party insurance only pays for the damage to another driver’s car if you have an accident that is your fault.

If you want cover for if your car is stolen or damaged by fire as well, then you should consider third party, fire and theft insurance.

Meanwhile if you want all of that and cover for repairs to your own car, alongside any medical expenses, you’ll need fully comprehensive car insurance.

REMEMBER: it isn’t the car that’s insured – it’s the driver.

So, for example, if your parents have car insurance, and you are learning to drive, you may need to take out specific learner driver insurance to use their vehicle. Or, if you just want to borrow someone’s car for a short amount of time, you may have to get temporary car insurance.

Can the police check if you are driving without insurance?

While you should always drive with the right level of cover, you might wonder how you could get caught for something that isn’t immediately obvious. That’s where the Motor Insurance Database (MID) comes in:

  • When you purchase a car insurance policy, it will be registered with the MID. This is the responsibility of your insurance provider.
  • The police have access to the MID.
  • Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras can scan a car and check whether it is registered on the MID.
  • If it isn’t, the police can stop your vehicle and ask for proof of your insurance.
  • If you don’t have your insurance documents to hand when stopped, you have seven days from the incident to visit the relevant police station and show your proof of policy.

If your car is flagged by the ANPR scan, that doesn’t automatically mean you don’t have insurance. While insurers frequently update the MID, there may be a lag between you taking out insurance, and your car appearing on the database. In that case, your cover note or certificate of motor insurance can be used as your proof of your policy.

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What is an insurance advisory letter?

It’s not just the police checking whether or not you have car insurance. As part of the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) scheme, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) regularly compares the MID with the records of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

This is to see whether there are taxed cars on the DVLA records that don’t appear on the MID.

When the MIB finds such a car, it will send out an insurance advisory letter (IAL) to the registered keeper of the vehicle.

What to do if you receive an IAL:

  • If you know you have taken out car insurance, you will need to contact your provider and ensure it updates the MID
  • If you’ve declared you car off the road through a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), then you should contact the DVLA to confirm it has received your declaration and that it is being processed
  • If you don’t have insurance, then you must get at least third party cover as soon as possible, or issue a SORN if you have no intention of driving your car

If you don’t comply with the terms of the IAL, you can receive a penalty that differs from the one you’d receive if you got caught actively driving without insurance by the police:

  • You will receive a fixed penalty notice of £100
  • Your car may be clamped, seized or disposed of
  • You could face court prosecution and a maximum fine of £1,000

How can I check if I have car insurance?

If you keep on top of your car insurance renewal dates, you should always be aware if you have cover or not. Sometimes, however, things slip through the cracks. In that case, how can you find out if your car is insured?

Well, the Motor Insurance Database isn’t just for the police or the MIB. You can use the askMID service to find out whether your car is insured. All you need to do is type in your vehicle registration number, ie your number plate.

Are there any instances where you don’t need insurance to drive?

If you’re driving a car, you must have car insurance. However, if you just own a car, there are some exceptions where you won’t need to have cover in place:

  • If you no longer drive you car and have declared it off the road by issuing a SORN (however, you still might want car insurance in the event of theft or damage while in your driveway)
  • If your car has been stolen, scrapped or written off, you don’t need to maintain an insurance policy (although you will still need to inform your existing provider)
  • If your has been kept off public roads since before 1 February 1998
  • If you are a motor trader and a vehicle is between registered keepers, or registered as ‘in trade’ with the DVLA

Frequently asked questions about driving without insurance penalties

Whether you can make a claim if you’re hit by an uninsured driver depends on your level of cover. With fully comprehensive insurance, you will be able to make a claim, though the process may take longer, as the insurer won’t be able to recover the costs.

If you only have third party, or third party, fire and theft, cover, you won’t be able to make a claim.

 

However, you may be able to claim compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.You, or your legal representative, can register your claim online.

 

Regardless, you should try and get as much information from the uninsured driver as possible. If they refuse to give you any information or leave the scene of the accident before you can talk to them, then you should contact the police to report the accident. You would also report the incident to your insurance provider as normal, and it will confirm whether or not the other driver is insured.

Unfortunately, if you didn’t realise your insurance had expired, and you get caught by the police, they won’t accept that as an excuse. This is because it’s the responsibility of the driver to maintain their car insurance policy. And most policies auto-renew once they expire, unless you tell your provider not to.

Therefore, you should always be proactive about making sure you have the right cover, by:

  • Using askMID to check whether you are insured
  • Making a note of when your car insurance expires
  • Searching for new car insurance around 21 to 30 days before your existing policy runs out if you’re thinking about switching providers

Technically, yes, you can drive on private land without insurance. But the rules are so strict that you might not want to take the risk. If there is any public access to your land – and that can include ‘private’ car parks and estates  – you must have car insurance.

Connor Campbell

Finance Writer

Connor Campbell is an experienced personal and business finance writer who has been producing online content for almost a decade. 

Connor is the personal finance expert for Independent Advisor, guiding readers through everything they need to know about car insurance and home insurance. From how much it costs to the best insurance providers in the UK, he’s here to help you find the right policy for your needs. 

In his capacity as writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet, Connor explored a number of topics close to his heart, such as the impact of our increasingly cashless society, and the hardships and heroics of British entrepreneurs. His commentary was featured in sites such as The Mirror, the Daily Express and Business Insider

At financial trading firm Spreadex, meanwhile, his market commentary was featured in outlets such as The Guardian, BBC, Reuters and the Evening Standard

Connor is a voracious reader with an MA in English, and is dedicated to making life’s financial decisions a little bit easier by doing away with jargon and needless complexity.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.