Driving without insurance: do you know the risks?
Forgotten to renew your van insurance or realised you've missed a payment? When you need your van for work, not driving while you wait for payday to arrive might seem out of the question. But if you're caught driving without insurance, the consequences could be severe.
Is it illegal to drive without insurance?
The short answer is yes. Van insurance is a requirement under the Road Traffic Act, and it's illegal for you to drive – even for just one day – without at least third-party insurance. This covers you for injury to other people, any damage to their property and accidents caused by passengers or named drivers on your policy. Beyond this, many drivers choose to add fire and theft insurance, as well as fully comprehensive cover.
If you have an accident while driving without insurance, it's important to exchange information in case somebody wants to make a claim. If you don't have insurance, you might have to pay for the damage out of your own pocket, and the other party may alert the police.
What happens if I'm caught driving without insurance?
If you're pulled over by the police, they can issue you a fine for driving without insurance. This is likely to be £300, as well as 6 points on your licence. But the penalty for driving without insurance doesn't necessarily stop there. If the case goes to court, you could face an unlimited fine and even disqualification from driving, which means putting a halt to your business activities. The police also have the power to seize and destroy your van if you've driven it without insurance.
What if someone else drives my van without insurance?
Has your workmate asked to borrow your van for the afternoon? If they're not covered by your insurance as a named driver you will be the one that's liable – even if you have a fully comprehensive policy. It's your responsibility to make sure that anyone driving your vehicle has the necessary insurance. If the person tells you that they have a policy that covers them for driving your van and it turns out not to be true, you could still face the same penalties as if you'd driven without insurance yourself.
How long does driving without insurance stay on your licence?
The IN10 endorsement (conviction code for driving without insurance) will stay on your licence for four years. Plus, you'll have to disclose it to insurers for another year after that, which means you'll probably pay much higher insurance premiums for five years in total. If you don't tell insurance providers about this or any other conviction when getting cover, you could face an even bigger fine. Plus, your insurance will be void and the police can issue you with a driving ban.
Does driving without tax invalidate insurance?
Unfortunately, it can. If you forget to renew your road tax, your van insurance will probably be void. So, if you get into an accident, the same penalties will apply. If in doubt, check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy. Driving without an MOT makes your insurance invalid, too.
Is it ever OK to not have insurance?
The only time you don't need to insure your van is if you declare it off the road – also known as a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Other than that, unless its been scrapped, stolen or sold, you'll need insurance.
If your insurance has lapsed but you're going on holiday and want to wait until you're back to renew, your uninsured parked van can still land you in hot water. You might come back to a fine and find your van's been impounded or even destroyed.
Just bought a new van? You'll still need insurance, so get a policy sorted before you pick it up. Not sure whether it needs to be insured as a car or a van? Check the V5C log book. If the vehicle category is M1, you can get car insurance. If it's N1 or N2, you need van insurance, which will also cover you for commercial use and contents, like tools.
I want to get my van insurance sorted, but I don't know whether I'm still covered?
No problem, you can do a van insurance check using the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to find out whether you've got a valid policy. It's a central record used by police and the DVLA to check cars and vans have the proper insurance. A note of warning – you might find yourself caught out if someone searches for your van and finds out you don't have cover.
Want to get your van insured, but not sure which policy is right for you? Check out our no-nonsense guide to the different options available.