Can you insure a car without an MOT? Explained


Learn whether you can insure a car without an MOT, the factors influencing this, and the implications of driving without an MOT or insurance cover.

If your car's MOT expires, you might be wondering whether you can insure it. While many people believe that a valid MOT certificate is required to insure a car, this is not necessarily the case. This comprehensive guide breaks down the factors that determine whether you can insure a car without an MOT.

An MOT test is an annual inspection required for all vehicles in the UK that are over three years old. It ensures that a vehicle meets minimum safety and environmental standards. Once a vehicle passes its MOT, it is given an MOT certificate that is valid for one year.

Unless your car is MOT-exempt, it's against the law to drive or park it on public roads. You also won't be able to pay Road Tax without it.

Insurance, however, is where things get a little tricky.

Can I insure a car that doesn't have an MOT?

Most insurance companies require a valid MOT certificate for a vehicle to be insured. This is because an MOT certificate is seen as proof that the car is roadworthy and meets minimum safety standards. It's a way for insurance companies to minimize the risk of insuring a vehicle that might be unsafe or prone to breakdowns.

If you already have insurance cover, this most likely applies to your current policy as well. Driving a car or parking it on public roads without an MOT voids your insurance, which will complicate any potential claims if you're involved in an accident or your car gets stolen.

Assuming your car has no dangerous defects, there are only two exceptions to this rule:

  • You're driving your car to a pre-booked MOT appointment.
  • You're taking it to a garage for repairs specific to a failed MOT.

In both cases, you still need a valid insurance policy to drive the car. But your insurer won't void your policy for driving without an MOT certificate in these specific situations because UK law permits them.

Do all insurers require an MOT for Coverage?

While most car insurance providers won't insure a car without an MOT, it isn't a steadfast rule. There are some companies that offer specialised "laid-up" or "off-road only" policies. These policies are designed for vehicles that are declared SORN (and are thus exempt from the MOT requirement).

There are also a few insurers that offer policies including coverage for vehicles driven or parked illegally without an MOT. They are much harder to find, however, and will cost considerably more than your standard policy because of the additional risk.

Keep in mind that this technicality is likely in your policy's terms and conditions. It may not be clearly laid out, so you'll want to make sure you carefully read your policy documents and verify with your insurance provider if you're unsure.

Can temporary insurance cover a car without an MOT?

Most temporary insurance policies will cover your drive to an MOT test or repair garage. But it's unlikely they'll cover you for an accident or theft if your car doesn't have a valid MOT certificate for the same reasons as a normal policy wouldn't — legal liability and greater risk to the company.

Can I renew my current insurance policy without an MOT?

Since not having a valid MOT certificate automatically voids your insurance policy in most cases, you won't be able to renew your cover until you get one. Again, the only exception is if your policy covers vehicles driven or parked illegally without an MOT.

Can I drive a car without an MOT if it's insured?

If you have an existing policy on a car without an MOT, you can only drive it to a pre-booked MOT test or a repair garage for fixes specific to a failed MOT. Otherwise, the policy is void in almost all cases.

Keep in mind that if these are your circumstances and you are pulled over, you will have to prove to the officer that you were driving directly to an MOT appointment, and the test was pre-booked. Otherwise, you have committed two offences — driving without an MOT and driving without insurance.

The risks of driving an uninsured car without an MOT

Driving without an MOT is a risk in itself, and not having insurance adds even more danger.

There are a few critical risks:

  • If you're caught driving or parking your car on public roads without an MOT, you could face fines of up to £1,000 and penalty points on your licence.
  • If your vehicle is not roadworthy and is deemed to have 'dangerous' defects, you will face even greater fines (up to £2,500) and potentially have your vehicle seized.
  • If you're involved in an accident while driving without insurance, you could face severe financial consequences without your provider to help you navigate the situation or pay out the potential claims.
  • If your vehicle is stolen, your insurance won't cover you, and you'll have to bear the full financial burden.
  • If a natural disaster (e.g., hailing or flooding) ruins your vehicle, your insurer won't pay out your claim if its MOT status isn't up-to-date.

Remember that your legal obligation to always drive a car in roadworthy condition trumps your ability to drive to an MOT test centre or garage. Even if you can prove you were on your way to an appointment, the police officer will still fine you or your insurance company may refuse to pay you out if your car is found to have 'dangerous' defects at the time of an incident.

What happens if I get in an accident while my car has no MOT?

After getting in an accident with no MOT, how the rest of the situation plays out largely depends on whether you were at fault and whether you were legally allowed to drive.

If you were on your way to a pre-booked MOT or repair appointment (and can prove it), you're good. Your insurance is still valid, so you can go through the process as if you had the MOT (assuming your car doesn't have dangerous defects).

If you were driving illegally and were at fault for the accident, your insurance provider will most likely refuse to pay out any claims or lawsuits. You will also have to navigate any legal trouble on your own because they won't be involved

If you were not at fault, you still won't be able to receive compensation from your insurer. However, you may have the option of suing the other party for damages. The other driver's insurer will probably try to place blame on you for "negligently" driving without an MOT, so you may still be seen as "at fault" or have to pay out certain costs.

How do I prove my car is booked for an MOT to an insurer?

When you book an MOT appointment, you will receive correspondence from the test centre. You can use this as proof to your insurance provider when they process an accident claim.

It's also a good idea to track the route you were on from your home to the MOT station. Since the law requires you to go straight to the garage, an accident in an area too far away from your home may make it seem like you were not headed there.

When your insurer asks you to give a detailed account of the accident, inclusion of the accident location, pictures, videos, and pathway to the MOT centre will solidify your case.

How can I get an MOT for my car?

Getting an MOT test for your car in the UK is a straightforward process. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Find an approved test centre. Only garages approved as MOT test centers by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can perform your car’s MOT. They'll have a blue sign with three white triangles visible outside.
  2. Book an appointment. You can book an appointment by calling the test center or, in most cases, booking online. It's a good idea to book your MOT well in advance, as slots can fill up quickly, especially during busy periods.
  3. Prepare your vehicle. Before taking your car in for its MOT, it's wise to check basic components such as lights, tyre condition and pressure, windscreen wipers, and fluid levels. These are common areas where a vehicle might fail its MOT, and checking them can help you pass the test on the first try.
  4. Show up for your test. Bring your vehicle to the test center at 15 minutes before the appointed time. An MOT test usually takes between 45 and 60 minutes. You’ll need to bring your vehicle registration document (V5C) if it's your first time or you've made modifications since your last MOT.
  5. Get your results. After the test, you’ll get a certificate if your vehicle passes. There may be 'minor' defects, which are faults that don't pose a risk to safety but should be repaired quickly. If you have 'major' or 'dangerous' defects, you will fail. And if you have dangerous defects, it's illegal to drive the vehicle away — you must fix them immediately before driving your vehicle.

If your vehicle fails the MOT and is left at the test center for repair and retest, the retest could be free or offered at a reduced cost, depending on the garage's policies and the nature of the repairs.

What to do if your MOT expires while your car is insured

If you know your MOT expiry has passed, there are three steps you should take:

  1. Check your insurance policy. It's always good to know what you're covered for and under which circumstances. If your current insurer doesn't provide cover for cars without an MOT, you'll need to find a way to get your car off public roads and refrain from driving it immediately.
  2. Book an MOT test online. You can book your test through the garage's website or a reliable third party.

Pay for temporary car insurance. If your current policy won't cover you without an MOT, you might be able to find a short-term policy that does. This way, you can protect yourself from potential theft, natural disasters, or mishaps while you wait for your appointment.

The bottom line

Driving without a valid MOT certificate is not only illegal, but it also puts you at risk of severe legal and financial repercussions if an accident occurs. Remember to always keep your vehicle's MOT up-to-date, schedule appointments in advance, and be prepared for potential failures by performing regular maintenance checks beforehand.

In the event that your car does fail its MOT test, take immediate action — book your MOT appointment and double-check your insurance policy.

To check your MOT status and history, click here to use our free MOT checker.