Car Insurance Renewal is Crucial

Did you know that if you leave renewal of your car insurance to the last minute, you stand a very good chance of being stopped by the police?

That's because the moment your policy expires it comes off the national Motor Insurance Database (MID) which is used by police to identify uninsured drivers. If you renew or take out new cover late, it can take a few days to get the details updated – so for a sort time you may not be on the database even if you are legally insured.

Using the latest automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology, the police are intensifying their efforts to stop uninsured drivers. In fact, the latest figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Motor Insurers' Bureau shows that the number of uninsured vehicles stopped by police soared to more than 170,000 in 2008, compared with just 78,000 in 2006.*

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: "That so many uninsured drivers being stopped is great news. The automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) equipment, which is being fitted to more and more police cars, works by continuously checking registration numbers that come into its field of detection. It instantly compares them against data provided by the MID and alerts officers if there isn't a match."

The police are very likely to stop such motorists and if they can't provide satisfactory evidence that the car is insured, their car will be confiscated.

Simon explains: "The trouble is, if you renew late, or change your car and don't tell your insurer until the last minute, you could fall into that database gap, which means if your car is scanned by ANPR equipment during that time you could be stopped.

"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 pulled over. A couple of years ago we would get one or two such calls a month – now it's 500 or so," he adds.

AA Insurance offers these hints to avoid being stopped, and what to do if you are:

  • Renew your 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 you pay by instalments and your annual policy is automatically renewed, you have nothing to worry about.

* Statistics published on 30 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.