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Can car insurance be backdated?

Relatively new laws around car insurance mean that unless your car is registered SORN, it must be insured. The trouble is, this can mean fines if your insurance lapses without you realising – and if you have an accident without insurance, you could face prosecution. When completing a car insurance quote, the date you want the policy from is always a date in the future.

With this in mind, we’re often asked if it’s possible to provide backdated car insurance. Here, we’ll explain the subject in a little more detail.

Can you backdate car insurance?

Although the idea of backdating insurance might seem harmless on the surface, it’s actually a way of getting around a number of driving laws – and could potentially put insurers enormously and unfairly out of pocket.

It’s worth considering an example that might seem fairly innocent:

You borrow a friend’s car to help you move house. You’ve got a temporary insurance policy in place from 9am on Saturday morning – but your friend calls you to say you can take the car on Friday night. You pick the car up, park it on your drive, and get ready for your move.

No problem, right?

Well, in the eyes of the law, there’s a big problem – since you picked the car up and drove it without insurance in place. That alone is an offence – and the situation would only get worse if you were pulled over by the police or involved in an accident.

So, you get home, call your insurer and tell them you need to backdate the insurance to cover the journey you’ve just done. Again, since your drive home was free from any problems, this might not seem like a big deal – but what if something had happened during your drive?

An insurer will never offer backdated insurance – as if they did, they would be giving you a way of working around the law. If you’d been involved in an accident on the way home, they would effectively be giving you a way to cover up a serious crime.

Other issues with car insurance that’s back dated

You wouldn’t necessarily be telling a lie if you told an insurance company that you wanted your cover backdating and you were certain there’d been no problem in the time that had elapsed. There’s every chance you could have simply driven your car innocently – without realising cover wasn’t in place.

Again though, insurers won’t do this because you simply could not know for certain whether there’s been any problem during the time you were driving uninsured – and this means you have no possible way of making a “fair presentation” of the risk involved with your insurer providing cover for you.

When you fill out an insurance application, the questions that are asked aren’t designed to catch you out – they’re simply there to ensure your cover provider understands the risk that you represent if they offer you insurance. Part 2, Section 3 of the Insurance Act 2015 covers fair representation in detail – and, quite simply, if cover was backdated, you have no way of knowing if you’re making a fair representation of the risk based on past events. 
Getting car insurance cover backdated

As you can now probably see, backdating car insurance is impossible for a number of important legal reasons. When you apply for insurance, you will not be able to specify a start date earlier than today – and, even if you do select today, your insurer will hold details of the exact time cover began, so even backdating insurance by hours or minutes is not possible.

Other related FAQs

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

You can be insured to drive a car on a policy in someone else’s name. This can be done by being a named driver on someone else's policy either permanently or for a short period.

Insurers generally do not offer the facility to put your car insurance on hold – and cancelling and restarting your car insurance cover rarely makes financial sense. If you’ve got a reason for needing a break in cover, talk to a specialist company who cater for your circumstances – like classic car insurers or student policy providers.

Generally speaking, your car insurance covers your vehicle and damage that you may cause to other vehicles and motorists. Depending on the type of policy, it can also cover a range of additional extras, such as medical expenses and breakdown assistance

There are a number of reasons why car insurance quotes can change, such as if you’ve recently changed your address, or for reasons out of your control, like government tax increases.

Car insurance can go up for a number of reasons – especially if you’ve had an accident or received a fixed penalty in the last year. If you haven’t, you might find you’re just getting a poor deal when your deal automatically renews – so don’t be afraid to shop around until you’ve got a better price.

If you’ve had an accident of any kind, you’ll need to report it to your insurer soon afterwards. When you do, they’ll seek a detailed explanation of what’s happened and assess the damage done to your car. When they have a clear understanding of what’s occurred – and assuming you have fully comprehensive cover, they’ll arrange to repair your vehicle – or pay its market value if it’s written off.

Yes, you can transfer your car insurance policy. Simply contact your existing insurer to ask. There may be a price difference and a fee to amend the policy.

A no claims bonus is a discount that’s applied after your insurance premium is calculated by a car insurance provider. The discount doesn’t stop your premium from going up; instead, it simply gives you a percentage off your premium – and that discount grows with every claim-free motoring year you have.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to accurately calculate how much your car insurance is going to cost without getting a range of quotes. As well as looking at national driving statistics, insurers will seek a huge amount of information about you and your vehicle before deciding on a personalised price.

Car insurance is usually calculated based on the likelihood of you making a claim in the future. A range of factors are taken into consideration too, such as age, occupation, your driving history and the details of your vehicle.