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The law on compulsory car insurance has recently changed

One of the problems with laws is they donít always stay the same. Sometimes Parliament wakes up long enough to pass a statute or the courts get active and clarify some principle. In neither case is Parliament nor the judge required to give you a poke or send a warning email. If you could be affected by the law, itís up to you to keep up-to-date. Ignorance of the law is no defence. Did you know about the Continuous Insurance Enforcement Regulations that came into force in August, 2011? This made a small but vital change to the law on compulsory insurance. Before August, the registered keeper of a vehicle was allowed to store it off-road without having to insure it. This would save a lot of money if, say, you were slowly repairing an old classic car. The regulations now require you to have a minimum third party policy in force for any car, truck, van, motorhome or motorbike even if they are not in use unless it has not been insured since January, 1998. The sole criterion for liability is whether the vehicle is registered as roadworthy.

The failure to insure affects the registered keeper, not the usual driver. The initial fixed penalty is £100. If you refuse to pay or dispute payment, the fine may be up to £1,000. The only way to avoid this penalty is to declare the vehicle SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). Fortunately the process for registering the vehicle as SORN is easy. You need to complete the relevant form which can be done online. Once you have made the declaration, you should receive confirmation within four weeks which exempts you from the requirement to insure. The registration lasts for twelve months. The DVLC should send you a renewal form when the twelve months is due to expire. If you forget to return this form, the fines become payable. Should you want to drive the vehicle, you should licence, tax and put a valid car insurance policy in place. This can be temporary. When you have finished using it, renew the SORN registration and cancel the car insurance policy.