Car insurance renewal

Late insurance renewers risk being stopped by police

8 April 2009

Car owners who renew their insurance at the last minute are more likely than ever to be stopped by police, as forces intensify their effort to stop uninsured drivers.

AA Insurance has welcomed the news that the number of uninsured vehicles stopped by police soared to more than 170,000 in 2008, compared with just 78,000 in 20061.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: "This success follows the national roll-out of automatic number plate recognition (anpr) systems on police cars, which continuously checks registration numbers that come into its field of detection. It instantly compares them against data provided by the national Motor Insurers' Database (MID) and alerts officers if there isn't a match.

"Police are very likely to stop the motorist and if they can't provide satisfactory evidence that the car is insured, it can be confiscated.

"This is good news because accidents caused by uninsured drivers cost over £l;500 million per year. This is met by the car insurance industry – adding an average of nearly £30 to the annual premium of every honest motorist."

However, drivers run the risk of being stopped if they are late renewing their cover, or change their car and don't tell their insurer until the last minute.

Simon Douglas explains: "The moment a policy expires it is deleted from the MID. If you're late renewing, or take out a new policy after your existing one has lapsed or if you buy a new car, it can take three or four days before details of the new policy are updated. The anpr equipment will therefore register the car as being uninsured.

"We have certainly noticed a big increase in the number of calls from the MID and the police to confirm that a customer is insured after being stopped. A couple of years ago we would get one or two such calls a month – now it's around 500 calls a month."

Advice from AA insurance

Tips to avoid being stopped, and what to do if you are:

  • Renew your car insurance – or arrange new cover – as soon as you get your renewal invitation and certainly no later than four days before expiry
  • If you change your car tell your insurer as soon as possible
  • If your insurer automatically renews your annual policy, you have nothing to worry about
  • If you have forgotten to renew your insurance, don't drive your car until your have arranged cover
  • If you have renewed you policy late or have taken out a new policy after the renewal date, make sure you keep a note of your policy number (which will be provided by your insurer by telephone or online); the date you renewed and a note of your insurer's telephone number. If you are stopped, the police can then check with your insurer to confirm that you have cover, and they will send you on your way
  • Keep your certificate of car insurance with you for a few days after it has arrived by post
  • You can check whether your car is on the MID by going to


1Statistics published on 30th March from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB).

Legislation introduced in 2005 gave police powers to seize vehicles being driven without insurance.

Uninsured drivers kill 160 people and injure 23,000 every year.

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14 April 2009