Driving on any UK road comes with some serious requirements. A motorist must have a valid license, an MOT and car insurance. Unfortunately, the lack of the latter is a serious problem nowadays. There were an astonishing 90,000 drivers caught annually without a policy in 2019 and 2020. Of course, those numbers only show how many were spotted and stopped by the law enforcement. But a 2021 study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates as many as 13% of all motorists in the UK drive without valid insurance. Some forget about the requirement, while others choose to forget.

a car key is laying on insurance papers

The most common reasons for driving a car without insurance are:

  1. Missed payment. When you choose to pay installments rather than the total sum up front, a missed payment voids your policy, and you might not even be aware of it. It may happen when you do not usually check your bank account to see if you have enough money for the automatic payment. As simple as that.
  2. Expired policy. Providers usually notify their customers about insurance that is going to expire soon. In many cases, they automatically renew your policy for you. Sometimes though, vehicle owners might not notice what is going on in time. Ultimately, it’s the driver's responsibility to check that the car is properly insured. It's good to remember the most important dates or write them down in the calendar.
  3. Driving without insurance deliberately. Some people actually choose to use their car without a valid policy. Idiotic as it sounds, it is very accurate, and not only for old bangs that belong to the scrapyard but for fairly new vehicles too!

The crucial thing to know is that not only driving a car without insurance can get you into trouble, but even owning one. Merely keeping a vehicle that has no policy in your garage or a backyard can cost you £1,000 in fines. On the upside, there are no penalty points for that offence.

Why do you even need car insurance?

a man sits next to his car which has been in an accident

The minimum level required to drive a car in the UK is third party car insurance. This policy covers injuries and damage to other persons and their property whenever a vehicle is involved in an accident. It is obligatory to have if you want to do any driving at all. It is worth noting that it does not protect you or your car. That is why we call it 'third party insurance'.

Having car insurance is a worldwide standard for a reason. It protects drivers and car owners against paying hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds. In case of an accident caused by an insured driver, the insurance company covers all damages and compensations. The driver is still covered when they cause an accident whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, in such a case insurance companies will likely try to recover all the incurred costs from the policy-holder in the court.

So, what is the fine for driving a car without insurance if the case goes to court?

The bare minimum penalty for driving a car without insurance in the UK is a £300 fine and 6-8 points endorsed on your licence. It is a 'slap on the wrist' and a lucky escape compared to more grave consequences an absentminded motorist might face. If taken to court, the fine is unlimited and depends totally on the judge's discretion. Lawbreakers might also find themselves disqualified from driving. Typically for a month or even longer if they're reoffending. Last but not least, the police have the authority to confiscate an uninsured car and even destroy it.

To sum it up, if you drive without insurance, you might lose your car, your driving licence and face a hefty fine.

Be fair, abide by the rules.

a woman sits next to a car accident

For many people who just can't be bothered, driving a car without insurance usually comes together with other offences. The most frequent being not having a valid MOT or a driving licence. That sort of situation rarely ends with a fixed penalty and a few points, but rather escalates to a court case. And while you can't go to prison for any of that, fines might put you in debt for years, and the offence will appear as a record on your driving licence, meaning you won't be able to get a job as a driver. Kind of sucks now that the whole of the UK is looking for drivers.

Finally, there has to be a disclaimer. Driving a car, or any other motor vehicle, without valid insurance, is utterly stupid. The only person who is put in danger here is the irresponsible vehicle owner, who can ultimately end up in court and pay a lot in fines. And that is just in the case when they don't cause any accidents when driving without third party insurance. Any damage to people or property can lead to even more serious problems, including having to pay the insurer back the equivalent of 10 or more years worth of income. So, do yourself a favour, go and get it. After all, if you can afford to buy and maintain a car, you are also able to pay for the insurance. A tip to send you off, make sure to know all the rules on DOC and insurance when you borrow someone else’s car. Safe driving!