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Can I put my car insurance on hold?

Since most of us pay for our car insurance monthly, it might sound like a good idea to put your insurance on hold now and again – leaving your car parked in the garage and keeping a bit money in your pocket. 

The problem is, recent changes in the law mean it’s not always that simple to just to put your car insurance on hold. Here, we’ll look into what’s possible – and some of the issues you might run into.

Why would you need to freeze your car insurance?

Car insurance is often a fairly large monthly payment that leaves our accounts – and it can feel like wasted money if you’re not driving your car.

As a result, thousands of people looking into pausing their car insurance – whether that’s for a week or two while you’re away on holiday – or for much longer periods, perhaps while your car is off the road, while you’re using a different vehicle, or even if you’re recovering from an injury or illness that’s left you unable to drive. 

The problem is, there’s no facility offered by insurers to temporarily suspend your policy – and a big part of why relates to the law surrounding car insurance.

What does the law say?

While there’s no law stating that you can’t pause car insurance – there is a very clear law that states every vehicle registered for use on the road must be insured. Continuous Insurance Enforcement became law in 2011, and it means your vehicle must either be insured – or on the DVLA’s Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) register.

As such, you’ll struggle to find any insurance company who will simply let you call and put your cover on hold. 

Your insurance payment agreement

Of course, it’s not just the law that’s standing in your way if you want to put your insurance on hold – there’s also how you pay for your insurance.

Single the majority of people pay for their insurance monthly; you’re signing up to a credit agreement with your insurer or a finance company they work with. At the point of purchasing your cover, you’ll usually agree to 10-11 monthly instalments that spread the cost of your policy out.

Insurers can’t simply pause and restart this agreement – especially since they often work with another company to offer this facility. 

Am I tied into this agreement with my insurer?

Although you’ve signed an agreement to pay your policy over the year, there’s nothing tying you into your car insurance provider. So, in much the same way you can cancel your insurance if you sell your car, you could call your insurer, tell them you’re taking your car off the road, and have your policy cancelled.

Be warned, virtually all insurers will make a charge if you decide to do this – but you’ll need to talk to your specific cover provider to get a full breakdown of what that cost will be.

Is it worth cancelling and restarting your policy?

If you’re leaving your car on the drive while on holiday for a couple of weeks, it’s almost certainly going to be much more hassle and cost than it’s worth to cancel your insurance to simply try to save half a month’s insurance premium.

Of course, if you do – you’re also leaving your car uninsured – so while you’re not going to crash it, you can’t be certain that it won’t be damaged or stolen.

That said, there are instances where cancelling or significantly downgrading your cover will make sense. Examples might include:

  • Classic car owners who only drive their vehicle through the summer month and don’t require fully comprehensive cover for all 12 months
  • People who spend a lot of time overseas – returning to the UK for just a few months each year
  • Students who only use their vehicle through the summer months between academic years
  • If you know you’re not going to be using the car between the point of cancelling your policy and the end of your cover

In truth, insurance companies often have specialist facilities in place for these kinds of circumstances – so it’s often better to talk about this upfront, rather than simply sign up for cover and cancel it further down the line. For instance, specialist classic car insurers will know that many vintage cars don’t get used through winter – and providers who offer student policies understand that lots of young drivers only use their car’s between semesters. 

So, is it worth cancelling your policy in an attempt to save some money?

The answer really depends on two things:

  1. The length of time you won’t be driving your car – you should talk to your insurer to find out the costs you’ll incur (and you should consider the cost of starting a new policy too) – but generally, anything less than 2-3 months is unlikely to make financial sense.
  2. Whether or not it’s safe to leave your car uninsured during this time. Remember, uninsured means you won’t receive a penny if your car catches fire or is stolen.

It’s also worth remembering your car must be declared SORN from the moment your insurance ends – otherwise you could find yourself open to fines and prosecution. 

Other related FAQs

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

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.

In the UK, every car is allocated an insurance group. This helps insurance companies determine the cost of cover. The groups run from 1, which offers the cheapest premiums, to 50, which offers the highest.

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.

Unfortunately, making any kind of insurance claim will often increase your renewal premium – even if the accident wasn’t your fault.

There are two types of excess – one compulsory, the other voluntary. The compulsory excess that your insurance company sets is the amount you must pay towards any repair done to your vehicle if you cause an accident. The voluntary excess is an optional amount on top of this – which means you’ll pay more towards repairs – but your annual premium price will come down in exchange.

Put simply, the reason why car insurance is high is because the cost of claims is high. As a result, insurers increase premiums to protect themselves and make a profit.

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.

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.

Backdating car insurance cannot be done under any circumstances. Since it is a criminal offence to do so, you will not find any broker or insurance company who will be able to do this for you.