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When does my car insurance expire?

Although it’s not the most exciting part of owning a car, keeping your paperwork and official documentation in order is an important part of making sure you’re driving legally. 

That said, between MOTs, insurance renewals, tax payments, and servicing – there’s a lot of information to remember – so what do you do if it’s slipped your mind when your insurance renewal date is?

Here, we’ll look at a few different ways to find out when your car insurance expires.

How to find out when your car insurance expires

Probably the quickest and simplest way to find out when your car insurance expires is to check your paperwork. 

The good thing is, insurance companies tend to email documents as well as send postal copies – so even if you can’t face rummaging through all the paperwork you’ve got in your drawers, you should be able to do a quick email inbox search to track your documents down.

If you can find it this way, you’ll need to look for the ‘certificate of insurance’ – that’s the official certificate that confirms you’ve got cover. On it, there should be a start and end date. 

Call your provider

Of course, if you can’t seem to track a date down on your paperwork – then you could give your insurers a quick call. Generally, their customer service lines are open long hours – and often at weekends too, so you’ll probably be able to fit a call in around other commitments.

Check your bank statements

If you’ve got your bank statements or banking app to hand, a little detective work will mean you can quickly work out your expiry date. Find the payments that go out to your provider – then track them back through previous months until you find the very first one. The first payment you made will have occurred on the day your policy started – so 12 months on from there will be your expiry date.

Wait to get your auto-renewal notice

If the idea of sorting through thousands of emails sounds like hard work and you can’t face the thought of hold music, then you could just wait for your auto-renew notice to come through the post.

Virtually all insurance companies automatically renew your insurance when your policy comes to an end. By law, the company must give you notice that they’re going to do this – so this will show the exact expiry date of your policy, along with other details; like your new annual premium.

The Motor Insurance Database

If you’ve tried all the other options and still can’t seem to put your finger on an exact date – then the Motor Insurance Database (MID) is almost certainly going to be able to help.

Set up to help drivers who have been involved in accidents to quickly check whether people have insurance in place, the MID gives you the ability to quickly check a car’s insurance status. Unfortunately, the basic free search doesn’t show expiry dates – but if you’re happy to pay a £4.50 charge for an enhanced search, it’ll return everything you need to know about your policy, including your insurer, cover level, start date – and when you need to renew.

What happens if you miss your expiry date?

If it turns out you’ve missed your expiry date, you’ll need to check that you’ve actually got insurance before you drive your car again.

Chances are, your provider will have automatically renewed your cover – but if they haven’t, you’ll be breaking the law if you drive your car. In actual fact, keeping a car that’s not insured is also an offence since the Continuous Insurance Enforcement ruling came into force in 2011 – so you’ll need to arrange insurance immediately or register your car as SORN.

Don’t worry if your insurer has already renewed your cover and you’re not happy with the deal you’ve got. The Financial Conduct Authority rules around insurance policies give you a ‘cooling-off period’ – 14 days after obtaining insurance that you can cancel your policy – without any explanation or penalty. If you’ve just missed your expiry date – this gives you a bit of time to shop around and find a deal that suits you and your budget.

Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

Yes, your no claims bonus (NCB) can expire – and will do so 2 years after your last car insurance policy comes to an end. If you want to make sure you keep your NCB, you’ll need to take out a new policy within 2 years.

The vast majority of insurance companies will let you choose between paying monthly or yearly for your policy. Your policy will therefore expire at midnight on the expiration date, unless your policy auto renews.

Yes, car insurance can be paid monthly. In fact, many people pay for their car insurance by monthly instalments.

Yes, it is possible for two car insurance policies to overlap. This can happen when you switch to a new policy with a different provider before your previous policy has come to an end.

Motor legal protection is an optional extra that can help cover the cost of legal expenses that might be needed if you’re involved in an accident that’s not your fault.

The majority of UK car insurance companies will automatically renew your cover when it ends so you don’t accidentally end up uninsured. By law, your provider must notify you that your insurance will renew – and they must show you last year’s price too – so you can decide whether you’re getting a good deal.

Don’t panic if you can’t remember who your car insurance is with. The best way to find out is by checking your paperwork – but if you don’t have it to hand, you can look at who your monthly payment is made to through your banking app or search your emails for electronic copies of your documents.

In the UK, car insurance is a legal requirement to have a policy in place if you own a vehicle. It provides you with financial protection if you have an accident.

Third party car insurance is a type of cover that only pays out for damage caused to other peoples' vehicles if an accident is your fault. Damage to your own car is not included.

As long as you have made a Statutory Off-Road Notification for the car in question, you don’t need SORN insurance – but you might decide you want to insure it; depending on your circumstances.