Car insurance for Q-plate registrations

Getting car insurance for Q-plate vehicles can be more difficult compared to standard car insurance, so it pays to know how it works.

Whether you’ve built your own car, imported one or radically modified a vehicle so that it’s unrecognisable, you might need to apply for a Q-plate. And that means you’ll also need to hunt out Q-plate car insurance.

What is a Q-plate registration?

Standard registration plates can help identify a car’s history, including its age, date of manufacture and where it was first registered.

However, in some cases, the age or identity of a vehicle will be unknown, and it might not even have a vehicle identification number (VIN). In these circumstances, the vehicle will be given a Q-plate registration. This is simply a registration plate that starts with the letter “Q”.

What types of vehicles need Q-plates?

Vehicles that might need Q-plates include the following:

  • Self-built “kit” cars
  • Self-imported vehicles, where there might be gaps in the car’s document history
  • Radically modified vehicles
  • Reconstructed classic vehicles
  • Ex-military vehicles, whose history cannot be released as they are classified
  • Cars without a VIN

How are Q-plates issued?

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) issues Q-plates to vehicles where it is difficult to determine their age or identity. Any original registration that may have been associated with the car will then become invalid and you must not display it again.

To request a Q-plate, you will need to use the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) scheme. You must apply for vehicle approval if you have done the following:

  • Built a vehicle
  • Rebuilt a vehicle
  • Radically altered a vehicle
  • Reconstructed a classic vehicle
  • Imported a vehicle

Is it difficult to insure a Q-plate car?

Yes, it can be much harder to get car insurance for a Q-plate vehicle. This is simply because car insurers find it more difficult to calculate the risk the vehicle imposes if they don’t know anything about the vehicle’s history.

Where can I find car insurance for a Q-plate car?

You will usually need to approach a specialist insurer or a car insurance broker to find Q-plate car insurance. Mainstream car insurance providers don’t tend to offer insurance for Q-plate vehicles.

When comparing options, you will usually need to provide detailed information about every aspect of the vehicle, including performance information and a breakdown of the parts used, so the insurer can fully assess the risk involved. You will also need to agree on a value for the car.

Are Q-plate cars more expensive to insure?

Usually, yes. Again, this is down to the fact that mainstream car insurance providers don’t usually offer car insurance for Q-plate vehicles, which means you’ll need to use a specialist provider. What’s more, because the level of risk is harder to determine, your premiums are likely to be higher.

How to compare car insurance for Q-plate registered cars

To compare car insurance for Q-plate registered cars, you’ll need to do an online search and look for specialist insurance providers or car insurance brokers.

Because of the level of detail involved, it can be difficult to run online quotes to get an idea of cost, as you can with standard car insurance. This means you’ll usually need to give the insurer a ring to talk through the details and specifics of your car and cover required.

You may also have to send the insurer some photos of the car and get a professional to carry out an independent valuation.

As with any type of insurance, make sure you don’t base your decision on cost alone. It’s important to check that you’ll have the right level of cover too.

What makes Q-plate registered cars unique?

Q-plate registered cars are unique because they tend to be self-built or radically modified so that the original parts can’t be identified. For this reason, they are unlike any other car on the road, which means they need a specific registration and tailored car insurance.

Do they require any extra cover?

As with any type of car insurance policy, you’ll need to check what is included as standard and what you might need to pay extra for. Q-plate car insurance might, for example, offer cover for left-hand drive vehicles and cover for specialist parts.

But you might also be able to add on cover for track days or rallies, cover if you plan to display your car at shows and cover for driving abroad.

Do I need to tell the DVLA that I need a Q-plate?

Yes, you do. You will need to make an Individual Approval Vehicle application and your vehicle will need to pass an IVA test by the DVLA before you can get a Q-plate. Test centres can be found across the UK.

Bottom line

If you have a kit car, you’ve imported a car or your vehicle has been reconstructed or radically modified, you’ll need a Q-plate.

Having a Q-plate can make it trickier to get car insurance, but the good news is there are a number of specialist providers and brokers that can help you find the right level of cover tailored to your particular vehicle.

Frequently asked questions

Finder survey: How many Brits have ever had car insurance?

Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of 1032 Brits, December 2023
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*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, (Feb ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £561.39

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