If you’ve got an uninsured vehicle you are breaking the law whether you drive it or not, under rules that came into force this week, unless you declare it off-road.
The Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme makes it an offence to keep an active, uninsured vehicle. Under the previous law, you only needed insurance if you were driving.
The new law came into effect on Monday but the Government has declared an amnesty until late June during which time it will not be enforced, giving drivers the chance to get insured.
Sources close to the Government say the likely enforcement regime will begin on 20 June.
The aim of the new rule is to cut down on the number of uninsured vehicles, which currently stands at 1.4 million. It'll allow the Government to use databases to match-up owners with insured vehicles.
Cars, motorbikes and motor homes must be now continually insured. A lapse of even a few days could see you falling foul – meaning it's no longer possible to remain uninsured while in hospital or on holiday.
If the owner fails to insure a vehicle they could be given a £100 fine. If it remains uninsured, the vehicle could be clamped, seized or destroyed.
The law will apply in England, Scotland and Wales but not in Northern Ireland.
If you have a vehicle you do not drive, the only way to avoid paying insurance is with a valid Statutory Off Road Notice (Sorn), declaring your vehicle is not in use.
This could play into insurers' hands
This is a more efficient system to cut down on uninsured drivers – who typically add £30 to every motor insurance premium – but you could end up paying far too much if you simply allow insurers to auto-renew your cover.
Instead, a few minutes' work in advance can cut costs by hundreds of pounds a year as new customers tend to get far cheaper insurance premiums.
Figures from the AA show the average car insurance premium at £1,416, though this falls to £892 for those who shop around before buying.
MoneySavingExpert.com creator Martin Lewis says: "Anything that cracks down on uninsured drivers is good news for motorists.
"Yet it's important any savings for insurers are passed onto customers, who've already seen 40% hikes in car insurance in the last year alone.
"However, there is a worry that many people will simply auto-renew with their existing insurer to avoid fines – and that allows insurers to hike prices knowing they've no competition.
"To avoid this, everyone should diarise six weeks before their renewal is due to start the comparison process, as if you wait until your insurer reminds you it's often too late."
How do I declare a vehicle Sorn?
To do this, see the Direct.gov website.
To fulfil these requirements, your vehicle must be kept off the road.
What counts as off-road?
Typically, off-road means garages and driveways. It does not apply to simply leaving your car parked on the side of the road.
Any part of a public road, including grass verges and ground adjoining the road, is deemed on-road.
The DVLA says you should contact your local authority if you have any doubt.
Anyone who has not used their vehicle and not had it taxed since the Sorn regulations came into force in January 1998 is also exempt from buying insurance, if they don't drive the vehicle.