Do you really need insurance to test-drive a car? Or just to nip to the shops quickly? Or if you’re sure your old banger is not even worth as much as the insurance premium? The answer to all of these questions is yes. You pretty much always need car insurance.
There’s one exception to the rule, which we’ll look at in this article. But, in all other circumstances, you’ll need to insure the car before you drive it.
You might be thinking, but do I really need to go through the whole painful process of calling up insurers and buying a policy just to test-drive a car for like, fifteen minutes?
Yes and no. Because while you’ll need to be insured, with Zixty’s temporary car insurance, you can get on the road in just a few minutes.
And you don’t even need to talk to anyone. Just download our app and sort it out that way.
When don’t I need car insurance?
Like we said, it’s rare that you won’t need car insurance in the UK. There’s actually only one exception to the car insurance rule and that’s when you have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) in place.
A SORN is where you declare the car is not being taxed, not being used on public roads, and is on private land. So you can’t just park it on the road in front of your house and abandon it for a few months.
We have a separate article about SORN that tells you all you need to know about SORN-ing your car, as well as the consequences of going down that route.
Do I need car insurance if I only use my car from time to time?
Even if you only drive your car once a month, you’ll need to tax and insure it. Them’s the rules! The good news is that most insurers ask for your estimated annual mileage. And if it’s fairly low, you tend to pay lower premiums anyway.
Plus, look at it this way, if you drive your car rarely, you’re less likely to be involved in an accident. This means you’re also more likely to build up your No Claim Discount (NCD) which should result in a lower premium in the longer term.
So while insuring your car when you don’t drive it much might seem like a waste of money, it could end up saving you money in the longer term.
Do I need car insurance if I store my car on private land?
You need insurance even if you’re storing your car on private land.
But, if you know you won’t be driving it for a while, you might consider a SORN instead. Getting a SORN means you’ll need to keep your car on private land, like your own driveway, and not drive it at all.
Your car can’t be taxed when you SORN it, and you’ll generally get a refund for any full months of unused tax if you’ve already paid. But, if you want to drive it again, you’ll need to tax and insure it, and make sure it has a valid MOT in place.
Do I need car insurance if my car isn’t worth much?
It doesn’t matter if your car is a 20-year-old banger that can only be sold for scrap. You’ll need to insure it if you want to drive it. It’s a legal requirement, so there’s no getting away from it if you want to drive your car.
We know, it can be frustrating when it feels like the insurance premium costs more than your car. But, it’s a necessity that’ll pay for itself if you ever need it.
Do I need car insurance to get my car to its MOT?
Like we said, the only exception to the car insurance rule is if your car has been declared SORN. But, if you went down the SORN route, you don’t need to MOT your car either. So don’t worry about getting it to an MOT centre if it’s SORN-d.
However, if SORN doesn’t apply in your case, then you do have to MOT it and it absolutely does need to have insurance too.
We’re sure you’re seeing a bit of a pattern here now.
SORN = no tax, no insurance, no MOT. No SORN = you need tax, insurance, and a valid MOT.
Do I need car insurance to get my car back from the police impound?
If you’re hoping to get your car back from the police impound, it’s definitely one of those cases where you’ll want to have car insurance in place. Mostly because it’s an actual legal requirement.
And in fact, if you can’t present car insurance, the police probably won’t release your car to you in the first place.
But that’s not all; some car insurance policies won’t provide the coverage you need to pick up your car from the ‘pound.
You may actually need specialist impounded car insurance to pick up your car.
Basically, what we’re saying is – getting your car impounded is super frustrating if it’s not your fault and you might have to shell out for a specialist car insurance policy.
Turning up without car insurance is not a great look either, especially if the police seized your car for being uninsured in the first place.
We’re not mind-readers, but we’re pretty sure the police officer you speak to won’t be too impressed if you tell them “Sorry officer, I just didn’t get around to getting the car insured after all. Can I have it back anyway, please?”
Do I need car insurance to get a car I’ve just bought home?
The car will always need insurance even if you’ve just bought it and haven’t had time to shop around for insurance yet.
You could get in lots of trouble if you drive uninsured, and the police won’t be impressed by the “But I’ve just bought the car!” excuse. If you’re found to be driving without insurance, you’ll need to declare this to insurers in the future – which can make insurance a whole lot more difficult to get, and potentially much more expensive.
But, you might not need to arrange insurance right away if the car dealer has insurance in place for a few days. Some car dealers have this in place. You’ll need to check with them though, don’t just assume they’ve got you covered.
If this isn’t the case, don’t panic! Short term insurance like Zixty is a great solution here. Our insurance policy is designed to insure you in minutes. Cover can last from an hour to a few weeks and it’s comprehensive too.
Our policy will give you the breathing space to shop around for annual cover at your own pace.
Do I need car insurance to test-drive a car?
So you probably won’t be surprised to hear that yes, the car will need to be insured if you’re planning to test-drive it.
But, the good news is, that if you’re buying through a dealer or network, they may have insurance arrangements in place that cover you during the test drive. They’ll generally need to see your driving licence, and you’ll probably want to check the insurance is in place before you set off. Other than that, you’re good to go.
Now, if you’re test-driving a car from an independent garage, or if you’re hoping to buy a car from Dave on Facebook marketplace, you’ll probably need to arrange your own car insurance first.
You most likely won’t be able to use Driving Other Cars (DOC) insurance here. Test drives generally fall outside the conditions of DOC. We have a separate article about Driving Other Cars (DOC) insurance.
But, again, that’s where Zixty’s temporary car insurance comes in. And from insurance policies lasting as little as an hour, you can be on the road test-driving that beauty in minutes. Zixty policies don’t cover getting your car back from a police pound.
How do the Police know if a car is insured?
Trust us, they know. You probably don’t want to take an uninsured car for a spin because it’s dead easy for them to work out whether your car is insured or not.
When you pass some police cars, your car is scanned by their Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) scanner. The police have access to the Motor Insurance Database, and if the number plate flags up as uninsured, they’ll be able to tell instantly.
So unless you’re planning an exciting police car chase experience that’ll cost you points on your licence and fines, please don’t drive an uninsured car. It’s not worth it for those of us who are not planning on reenacting that Fast and Furious 6 scene.
What happens if the police stop me for having no insurance?
If you’ve been stopped by police for not having insurance, what happens next depends on your circumstances.
If you’ve just bought insurance from Zixty – or everyone else for that matter – there can be a delay of around 48 hours before the Motor Insurance Database (MID) is updated. But, you should still be able to show evidence of your policy if you’re asked to prove you’re insured.
All your Zixty docs are available via the app, so you should be able to pull them up fairly quickly if you’re asked.
Hopefully, this will be enough to prove you’re actually insured during a police check. But, sometimes the police might ask you to attend a police station. Those aren’t our rules, that’s up to the police.
Now, the situation gets a bit more complex if you’re actually uninsured, for example, because you’ve cancelled your renewal or the insurance company has cancelled it. Then, the next steps are between you and the police.
To avoid a situation where you end up uninsured, you’ll want to tell your insurance company about any changes to your email address and postal address. That way, they can keep in touch with any changes and let you know in advance if they’re planning on cancelling your policy for whatever reason.
What are the consequences of not having car insurance?
Being uninsured carries some pretty serious consequences. If your car flags up as uninsured, you could get a fixed penalty of £100. Also, your car could be clamped, or seized. Or even destroyed altogether – dramatic, we know.
And, you could even face court prosecution with a possible maximum fine of £1,000.
Basically, don’t do it.
It’s not like you’ll be able to avoid the police forever. Even if you take a turn in the opposite direction every time you come across a police vehicle, you’re likely to get caught out. The police use unmarked cars too, for starters.
And let’s not forget about what happens if you actually need insurance. What if someone steals your car? What if it’s damaged or destroyed by fire? You’ll need to cover all those costs out of pocket.
Can I use a Driving Other Cars (DOC) extension?
Lots of people think they can get away with driving someone else’s car using the Driving Other Cars (DOC) extension on insurance policies. This type of cover usually gives you third-party insurance if you’re driving someone else’s car.
But fewer and fewer insurers are including this type of cover as part of their offers. And where it is available, you’ll usually need to meet several requirements to qualify.
The DOC extension applies in very limited circumstances, so definitely don’t rely on it if you’re unsure. Because of the complexity of this subject, we’ve created a separate Driving Other Cars insurance article here.
Do I need car insurance: An overview
We’re sure you get where we’re going with this by now. Basically, you almost always need car insurance. The only exception is if you’ve declared your car SORN. If you go down that route (punny, we know), you can’t use your car and it must be kept on private land, like your driveway.
Otherwise – you need car insurance. It doesn’t matter if you’re just nipping to the shop quickly or if you want to test drive that sweet new ride before you buy it.
But the good news is, Zixty’s day car insurance is designed to cover you in most of those pesky situations when you only need insurance for a few hours or a few weeks. And we make it super easy to set up insurance – you don’t even need to talk to a human! Just download our app and drive off in minutes.