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Is my car insurance valid without an MOT?

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The rules around driving without car insurance are clear – it’s a criminal offence. But if you’re driving without a valid Ministry of Transport (MOT) test pass certificate, it’s a bit more complicated. Read on to find out whether you can get car insurance without an MOT and what happens if your MOT runs out or your car fails its test.

Is my car insurance still valid if my MOT expires?

It’s safe to assume that if your MOT runs out, so will your car insurance.

Most car insurers will specify that if your car requires an MOT, your insurance will be invalidated if you don’t have one or fail to keep it current. This means that if you accidentally let your MOT lapse, you won’t be covered if you need to claim on your car insurance.

Even if your policy’s terms and conditions don’t mention an MOT, your insurer will likely say your car needs to be roadworthy, which may be difficult to demonstrate without an up-to-date MOT certificate.

So, regardless of the terms of your policy, it makes sense to note when your MOT needs renewing and book your car’s annual safety check in plenty of time. 

Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t an MOT grace period, and the police will be able to tell whether you have a valid MOT by scanning your number plate.

Can you insure a car without a valid MOT?

Most car insurers will want to know you have a valid MOT when you take out your policy.

An MOT certificate proves you’re fulfilling your legal responsibilities as a car owner and that your car has been declared roadworthy by a qualified mechanic.

That said, there may be some cases where you can buy car insurance without a valid MOT. For example:

  • Your car is less than three years old: You’re only legally required to get an MOT in time for the third anniversary of your car’s registration. If you aren’t sure of your car’s exact age, you can check its registration date in your service book or your registration document (V5)
  • You have a classic car: If your car is over 40 years old, an MOT won’t be required if it is roadworthy and hasn’t been modified
  • You will only drive it to a pre-booked MOT appointment: If your car isn’t exempt, your insurer may agree to the policy if you intend to only drive it to the garage until it has passed its MOT

Any insurer that doesn’t list a valid MOT as a condition of cover will still require that your car is roadworthy.

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An MOT is an annual inspection to ensure your car meets minimum safety standards set by the DVSA. This is different to a service – a general health check for your car to ensure it is running as smoothly as possible. A service is great for car maintenance but isn’t a legal requirement.

 

During the MOT, the assessor will check:

 

  • Lamps and reflectors
  • Electrical equipment
  • Brakes
  • Tyres/wheels
  • Seat belts
  • Body and structure
  • Exhaust, fuel and emissions
  • The driver’s view of the road (including mirrors and wipers)

Can I claim on my insurance if my MOT is invalid?

As most car insurers require you to have an up-to-date MOT, you won’t be able to claim on your car insurance if you don’t have one or if it has expired. 

The only exception may be if your insurer doesn’t include a current MOT as a condition of cover. However, it will still likely require your car to be roadworthy, which will be hard to prove without a valid MOT. In these cases, you may find the decision over whether the policy pays out comes down to the discretion of the insurer.

Even if your insurer agrees that your car is roadworthy, you may get a lower payout if your car is stolen or written off. That’s because your car’s value will be lower if it doesn’t have an up-to-date MOT.

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Do I need to have insurance to drive my car to an MOT test?

If you don’t have a current MOT, you can legally drive your car to a pre-booked test. But that doesn’t mean you can drive an uninsured car to your MOT. If you’re caught driving on UK roads without insurance, you will typically get six points on your licence and a £300 fine, but, depending on the circumstances, you may end up with an unlimited fine and be banned from driving.

Even though most insurers require a valid MOT to insure a car, they may agree to cover you for the drive to the test centre, so long as you don’t drive anywhere else until your car has passed its MOT.

It’s a good idea to have proof of insurance with you in the car in case you’re stopped on the way to your appointment.

If you can’t find an insurer that is willing to insure your car without an MOT, you will need to arrange to have your car towed to the test centre. Once your car has its MOT, insurance should be easier to obtain.

What happens if my car fails its MOT?

After your car has had its MOT, you will be told about any minor, major or dangerous faults. 

You may also be told about advisories – areas flagged in the test that could become a problem in the coming months.

If your car has any major or dangerous faults, it will fail its MOT. If the fault is considered dangerous, you won’t legally be allowed to drive your car until the problem has been fixed and your car has a new MOT certificate. You also won’t be covered by your car insurance.

However, if the fault is minor, you can continue driving the car until your current MOT certificate runs out. You will only be able to get a new MOT once the fault has been addressed.

If the fault is fixed within 10 days, you will pay a reduced fee for your retest. If you don’t tackle the problem within this period, you will have to pay the rate for a full MOT.

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If your car is hit by a driver who doesn’t have an up-to-date MOT, you should still be able to claim for damages through the at-fault driver’s insurance. However, it may be a more complicated process if their car insurance was invalidated. In some cases, the insurer may expect the at-fault driver to foot the bill for third-party claims.

Frequently asked questions about car insurance without MOT

If your car requires an MOT and you’re caught driving without one, you can be fined as much as £1,000. Alternatively, if you drive a car that has failed its MOT with “dangerous” faults, the penalty can go up to £2,500. You may also get points on your licence or, in a worst-case scenario, be banned from driving. However, you are allowed to drive to a pre-booked MOT test centre for a test, provided you drive straight there and nowhere else until it has passed the test.

If you aren’t sure of your car’s MOT status, it’s quick and easy to check online. All you need to do is enter your car’s registration number (its number plate) into the government website. In addition to confirming whether your current MOT is still valid, you can also view the expiration date.

If you want to avoid a last-minute panic, you can book your next MOT up to a month (less a day) early, without affecting your renewal date. This can be helpful for a couple of reasons. It not only means you will get 13 months for the price of 12 but also gives you time to get quotes for any required work (so long as you weren’t advised of any dangerous faults that must be fixed before your car can be driven again).

You can also ask your garage to remind you when your next MOT is due.

Whether your car needs an MOT will depend on its age. New cars up to three years old won’t need an annual MOT, nor will those that are over the age of 40. However, you will still need to ensure they are roadworthy. Older cars also won’t be eligible for this exemption if they’ve had any major modifications in the last 30 years.

To make your car legally exempt from MOTs, you will need to apply for an MOT exemption by completing the V112 form from the DVLA’s website and taking it to your local post office.

Yes – it’s illegal to drive a car on UK roads without insurance. Once you have decided to drive your statutory off-road notification – or SORN – vehicle, you must get it taxed and insured. You will then be able to drive it to a pre-booked MOT appointment. Although insurers will likely insist you have a valid MOT to get insurance, they will normally agree to cover you for the drive to the test centre.

If you aren’t sure how long you will keep the car or whether it will pass its MOT, you can consider temporary car insurance instead of committing to a full year.

While your car is off the road (and you have a SORN in place), you will not need an MOT certificate.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.