How to check that your van is insured

You remember with perfect clarity scouring the internet for the best van insurance deals, perhaps direct with insurers or through specialist comparison sites like Compare Van Insurance, and you’re absolutely convinced that you filled in the paperwork, paid the premium and got your documents emailed or posted out to you. They’re in the drawer upstairs right now, or in your glove compartment ready, should some curious police officer ever need proof that you’re fully insured.

But are you? With traffic wardens and highways police hot on the tail of anyone driving without the correct insurance, it’s natural to find yourself doubting your insurance status from time to time, especially if you haven’t been checking your bank statements for any missed payments. And there’s nothing worse than being caught uninsured, because ignorance is no excuse.

Luckily, there are a few handy tools out there to help you quickly and easily check your insurance status, along with other useful information about your vehicle – and if anything looks amiss, you can get straight on to sorting it.

Van Insurance Check

The MID (Motor Insurance Database) has a complete record of the insurance status of every vehicle registered in the UK, which is updated regularly. To access their search function, enter your van details here. That runs a check against their database and confirms if the van is currently registered with the MID, which any car with correct insurance should be.

Please note, this search will not provide information about your insurer, date of policy renewal or confirmation of how much longer your insurance is valid. The check is only valid for the day on which you perform your search. It does not constitute proof of insurance.

If you never use your vehicle, it should be declared ‘off the road’ with a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) via the DVLA. If your van has a SORN, the MID search will show this as a valid alternative to on-road insurance.

If you need more information about your insurance policy, such as the renewal date, or if your vehicle isn’t showing on the MID but you believe it to be insured, your best bet is to contact your insurer direct. Most insurers now will email out policies to you, and many have an account function where you can log in to verify details of your policy and account, as well as renewing or cancelling your cover as necessary.

Why do I need insurance?

Apart from the obvious benefit of covering you in the event of an accident – meaning you’re not solely responsible for finding the money to repair your own van and any others that are involved – insurance is a legal requirement for any vehicle that uses the roads. Failure to insure or maintain insurance on a vehicle you use carries a minimum fixed penalty of £100, and could result in your car being seized and impounded, court prosecution, license points or disqualification from driving, and a fine of up to £1,000. For a full explanation of what the consequences of no insurance are, check out this handy RAC guide.

The minimum requirement to use a van on public roads is to have third party cover – which means that if you cause damage or injury to someone or something else, your insurance will cover the costs of repair/remuneration. However, it’s never a good idea to rely on third party insurance as you won’t be covered if you damage yourself or your own vehicle – in that situation, the cost of repairs as well as any loss of income due to injury will be solely down to you.

What about tax and MOT?

The other aspects of vehicle ownership that can land you in hot water are failure to tax your vehicle, and driving without a valid MOT.

The DVLA send out tax reminders in advance of your renewal date, reminding you to tax your vehicle. Nowadays it’s easy to go online with your reference number and complete the payment online, either in one go or through a monthly direct debit.

MOTs are what catch most people out, as only a handful of garages will send out a reminder to book your annual MOT – the majority of drivers rely on their calendar to tell them when their next test is due. MOTs aren’t necessary for any car less than three years old – but once a vehicle hits its third birthday, they become an annual requirement. To check your van’s credentials, you can use the government’s dedicated website to check your MOT status as well as your tax.

As a final point, it’s worth noting that an MOT only guarantees a vehicle’s roadworthy status for the day it is issued – it’s up to the driver to ensure their car or van complies with road requirements over the next 364 days, by undertaking appropriate and timely repairs and maintenance.

If you’re ever in doubt, always go back to the person who was responsible for logging your van’s status – your insurer, your local garage or the DVLA – and ask them to verify what details they have on their system. And always remember to keep providers up to date with changes to name, address and vehicle, so the right documentation can always find its way to you.