Is Your Car Insured? Did you know police officers can tell if you do not have car insurance by using number plate recognition technology? Did you also know that you may need vehicle insurance registered in your name, even if it is always off the road? Driving without insurance is a serious crime and the police even have the authority to seize and destroy the vehicle, so you will want to know all about your coverage and make sure that your information is up-to-date. Where do you start?
Where Do I Go to Check My Car Insurance?
The Motor Insurers Bureau, aka MIB, has a central database that contains details of all vehicles insured in the United Kingdom. This organisation can provide you with a range of information, and most of it is free to access.
For example, you can review your insurance history, or, if applicable, check any claims that you may have made through the Claims and Underwriting Exchange portal. If you are suspicious of the vehicle that you may be about to buy, you can ask the Bureau to release information to you, to determine if someone has listed it as stolen or written off. You can also apply for information about a no claims discount, as the MIB holds this data from each insurer.
Who Is My Car Insured With?
If you have misplaced this information, you can ask the Motor Insurers Bureau. They will ask you to submit a form with your details, the vehicle registration number, required date and proof of identity. They will then send you the result via post or email.
What Insurance Group Is My Car?
As you may know, the insurance industry uses a grouping system to determine the base costs to cover your vehicle. Fifty different groups cover the key risks, but if you want to find out what insurance group your car is in, you will need to take into account other factors as well.
A company known as Thatcham Research is in charge of maintaining the group system. This independent body works with the Association of British Insurers and Lloyd's Market Association, and they meet each month to review the data.
At the core of the process is the Group Rating System. There are many factors involved, but in principle, a result reflects the time it would typically take to repair the vehicle and the cost of the spare parts.
The insurance industry uses a crash impact test (set at 15 km/h) to determine how each vehicle holds up. Analysts calculate how much it should cost to return the car to its original condition, in terms of billed labour and parts.
Other factors will also play into the calculation. They'll want to know how difficult it is to steal the vehicle and refer to a separate security assessment. They will consider outright performance, including top speed and 0 to 60 mph time, and will also take into account any independent or autonomous driving aids, like emergency braking.
The database contains reference information, like the amount of time it would typically take to repair a specific model. The assessors focus on a small list of commonplace parts, and will then cross-check how much each one costs, from manufacturer to manufacturer.
As most accidents feature a front or rear impact, they'll also look carefully at the structure or alignment of the vehicle's bumpers.
Gathering Your Information
Now that you know how they calculate insurance groups, you may want to find out what group you are in, or check on a vehicle before you purchase it. Thatcham Research maintains a comprehensive tool here. Your search will tell you the group rating, between one and 50, and will display a suffix letter (A, D, E, U, P or G). Among other things, this suffix will tell you if the vehicle meets, fails or exceeds a security requirement for its group.
You'll also notice a star rating system on a scale of 1 to 5 related to security. This rating will tell you how secure it is in terms of theft from or theft of the vehicle. Finally, you get a link to the EuroNCAP website, which will go into much greater detail.
What If I Drive My Car with No Insurance?
This offence is serious, and if they catch you, you will almost certainly accrue six penalty points on your licence and receive a fixed penalty of £300. If the case is involved and goes to court, a judge may disqualify you from driving altogether and assess an even larger fine. Even worse, the police do have the power to seize the vehicle and, in certain circumstances, can even destroy it.
If you are the registered keeper of any vehicle in the UK, you must ensure that it is insured, even if it is not on the road. "Continuous Insurance Enforcement" regulations dictate that you must cover such a vehicle in any eventuality and if you don't, you'll get a £100 fixed penalty. Again, in the worst-case scenario, the car could be seized and destroyed, and you may end up with an even higher fine.
As the Motor Insurers Bureau keeps details of every car in Britain, the database will automatically flag up your vehicle for attention if it does not have insurance. You'll get an advisory letter in the post and should take action as soon as possible.
If you want to avoid this expenditure or hassle, you will need to register a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) instead. If you do this, you won't need to pay the annual vehicle tax either.
Why You Should Check Your Car Insurance
To be on the safe side, always check for accuracy whenever you take out coverage or renew your policy. This check will show you if the motor insurance database information is accurate, and you'll avoid any issues. You can access the database online here.