UK law requires all motorists to have valid insurance that provides them, or anyone they permit to use the vehicle, with insurance cover for the vehicle that they are driving. It is an offence to drive a vehicle on the road or in a public place without insurance, and penalties can be severe if you do not have insurance. There are three different types of insurance policies:
- Comprehensive (the fullest cover);
- Third Party, Fire and Theft; or
- Third Party only (the minimum cover).
If borrowing a friend’s car or other vehicle, always check that they have insurance which allows you to drive it. If the car you are going to drive does not belong to you, then even if there is an insurance policy in force, it may not cover you to drive unless you are a named driver or it is an 'any driver' policy. However, even 'any driver' policies may not cover learner drivers, or people driving on foreign licences. It is the driver's responsibility to make sure that she or he is insured to drive. It is no defence (in law) to say that you believed (wrongly) that you were insured. Always check before driving.
For more information on arranging insurance for your vehicle, see Buying a vehicle.
If hiring/renting a car, you will need to show a valid current driving licence. Insurance and road tax are normally provided by the rental company and included in the hire charge.
It is illegal to drive without valid insurance, road tax or a valid driving licence. The penalty for doing this may be a fine, a ban or imprisonment.
The cost of motor insurance cover will vary according to a number of factors such as your age, how long you have been driving, where you are living, the age and value of your car and the type of car you have. Costs may vary widely between insurance companies for the same cover, so you may want to shop around.