How to Check if a Car is Insured (for free)

In the UK, it’s against the law to drive on any public road without valid insurance. The penalties for doing so can be quite severe.

As of 2020, the maximum penalty for driving without insurance is 6 to 8 penalty points on your license, plus a fine. The fine is means-tested, therefore they can be anything up to £5,000 depending on your earnings. In some cases, there is even the possibility of receiving a driving ban.

If caught driving a vehicle with no insurance the police have the power to both seize and destroy your vehicle. If the case is extreme enough and the police refer it to the courts, then you can face an unlimited fine. You can also be disqualified from driving. So, pretty severe stuff!

 

How do I check if my car is insured…?

The easiest way to find out whether your car is insured is to note down the registration number of your vehicle. You can check this against the national Motor Insurance Database (askMID). This is a national register of all of the cars insured in the UK and is available to all registered insurance companies as well as other authorities such as the police and DVLA.

A search on the motor insurance database is free to conduct. However, there is a nominal free if you wish to find out additional details such as the name of the insurance provider and specific details about the policy.

We don’t offer an “insurance check” here at FreeCarCheck, because askMID does not resell their data. AskMID is run by the insurance industry and they do not resell access to their database. So in other words, the only place to find out if the vehicle is insured is by going direct to the askMID website!

 

Is there a car insurance reminder service?

Unlike the UK Government’s vehicle tax (VED) and MOT checkers, which offer a useful reminder by email, sadly there is no insurance reminder service from askMID at the current time.

If you’re worried about not renewing your car insurance by accident then your insurer may send you renewal reminders. If you’re like me then you probably don’t read all your email though, so these can easily be missed.

Thankfully MoneySupermarket has come up with their own solution – download their free app and they will push a notification to your phone the day before. I haven’t had any problems with their app, and you don’t need to buy insurance through them to use it. You simply insert the date when your car insurance expires, and you’ll automatically be notified.

Will the askMID service tell me about insurance write offs?

No. It merely checks if car insurance is valid or not. See our related guide on checking if a vehicle has been involved in an insurance write-off here.

 

How to check if someone else’s vehicle is insured?

Just as if you were checking whether you have insured your own car, you can also check the insurance on a car that someone else owns. To do this, you need to access the motor insurance database too. Here are the steps you need to take:

  • Obtain the registration number of the vehicle you wish to check
  • Search the askMID database for the details that you need
  • If the vehicle is found in the MID database, then the insurance details of the other vehicle will appear on your screen

There may be a nominal charge for this service, depending on the detail of information that you need. If you only require the name of the insurance company for a vehicle, then this is free of charge.

The motor insurance database is a handy tool for checking if your own car is insured as well as any car that is owned by a third party. If you are concerned that you have forgotten to renew your car insurance and that it has lapsed, then use this free service to see whether your car is insured or not. It’s rare that useful things are free nowadays!

 

A vehicle that I know is insured, is saying it’s not! What should I do?

You’d be surprised how common this is.

The askMID service is updated every few hours so it’s unlikely that the cause is simply down to a delay in updating the details. The best option is to contact them directly. (In our experience the most likely cause is that something has been entered incorerctly, for example the incorrect VRM has been added). Unfortunately, FreeCarCheck cannot assist with any queries related to the askMID service.

 

Can I legally buy an uninsured car?

Yes, there is no legal requirement to buy a car that is insured. In fact most cars sold through forecourts/traders come with 7 day “drive off” insurance – this starts the moment that you drive away the vehicle.

If however you are buying from a private seller then it’s very unlikely it will come with any sort of 7 day insurance.

Instead you must immediately insure the vehicle after you have purchased it; don’t be one of those people that forgets, or thinks they can safely drive home and *then* insure it. It’s not worth the risk – stop by the roadside immediately after purchasing the car, and insure it over the phone. Yes – it’s boring, having to listen to all the spiel from your insurer as they run through the tedious terms and conditions, and ask you the same questions. But it may just save your driving license, and you only need to do it once!

PS: Don’t forget to check out our related guide on how to check if any vehicle has a full, or part service history here.

3 thoughts on “How to Check if a Car is Insured (for free)

  1. hi. i recently part exed my car, the car is currently insured till june 2021 i have no idea with who, is there a way to find out who the insurance company is, many thanks Arwyn.

  2. hi, i am interested in buying a vauxhall zafira. i put the details into ask mib and it said that there was no insurance for it but then the garage where its for sale said that the ask mib service is not updated much. is this true or should i be worried? thank you

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