Not Using My Car: Does it Need Insurance?
By: Sally Aquire (6 Jan 17)
The law states that all registered vehicles that are being used on public roads must be both taxed and insured. If you are caught without insurance, you can be fined and given penalty points on your driving licence. You can potentially be Disqualified from Driving for a while too. Although you are not legally obliged to insure vehicles that are currently off the road and being kept in private garages or on private land, you should make sure that your car is insured if it is being kept on a public road. There are also practical reasons for making sure that any vehicles registered by you are fully insured, regardless of where they are being kept. Your car can be involved in an accident without being on the road – the handbrake could fail, an electrical fault could start a fire or the car could be stolen. Without insurance, you are not covered for these types of situations.
If you are not going to be using your car for over a month, you can contact your insurance company and ask them to suspend your insurance cover during this period. They may also refund part of your insurance premium for this period too. This applies if your absence from driving is not related to the insurance cover (for example, you cannot usually do this if you have made a claim because your car has been stolen or damaged). The refund is usually paid when your insurance cover is reinstated again (i.e. when you begin driving again). Insurance companies such as Direct Line and RAC operate in this manner. During the suspension period, your car will still be covered for loss or damage that occurs as a result of theft or a fire, provided that it is locked away in a garage.
What type of insurance do I need?
That depends on where you intend to keep your car while it is not in use. If you are going to be parking your car in your garage to take advantage of suspended insurance cover while your car is off the road, you need to get insurance that covers you against theft and fire, but this will not cover you against third party accidents (which shouldn’t really be a problem if your car is locked away). If you are going to be parking your car on a road, you need to be covered for third party accidents as well.
Do I need to do anything else?
You need to inform the DVLA that your car is going to be off the road for a significant time through the Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN)certificate, which you can request from them. Using your car while the SORN is in place will result in a fine of up to £5000 and a possible prison sentence. The SORN lasts for a year, and must be renewed if you need to keep your car off the road longer than this. This can be done online at the DVLA website if you have a V11 form, a V58/1 form or a V5C form. Alternatively, you can do it by phone instead. If your local Post Office branch issues tax discs, you can take your V11 form there too. If you want to apply by post, you can request the SORN V890 form, and return it to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.