Dude, when’s my car insurance due?

Lost track of your car insurance due date? Here's how to work it out, and why it matters.

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Your car insurance due date might not be the most exciting event in your calendar, but it’s one that is important not to forget. Driving without insurance, even for just a few days, is an offence that could land you with points on your licence and a hefty fine. Here’s how to avoid this worst case scenario, and keep your renewal premium to a minimum.

How do I know when my car insurance is due?

Most car insurance policies last for a year. So, if you last bought car insurance on 12 September, chances are it will be due for renewal on 12 September the following year.

But there are exceptions to this rule. For example, some “bonus accelerator” policies only last for 10 months (while still giving you a full year’s worth of no-claims bonus). And even if you have a standard policy, it’s easy for your car insurance due date to slip your mind.

If you’ve got a nagging feeling that your car insurance is due some time soon, but you’re not sure exactly when, you can check by:

  • Digging out your current car insurance policy documents. You should have received these by email or post, or via your insurer’s online portal. These documents will state the date you bought your existing policy, and your renewal date.
  • Calling or emailing your insurer to ask directly. If you can’t locate your current policy documents, your insurer’s customer service should be able to help.
  • Looking back over historic bank or credit card statements. These will show the date any previous payment was made to your current insurer. If you have a standard, annual policy, you can work out your due date from this.
  • Wait for your official renewal notification. A few weeks before your due date, your insurance company will post and/or email you a reminder that you need to renew your policy.

Will I get notified when my car insurance is due?

Yes. Your existing insurance company will send you a renewal notice. It will typically arrive 3 or 4 weeks before your car insurance is due. This may be by post, email, or both.

The notification will include your due date, last year’s premium, and a quote for a new policy if you choose to renew with the same insurer under the same terms.

Some insurers set up your policy to automatically renew for another term (usually a year) when you first sign up with them. If this is the case, it should be clearly stated on your renewal notice alongside the renewal premium. And your insurer should also make it clear, whether you’re set up to auto-renew or not, that you’re under no obligation to renew with them and could get a better deal by shopping around.

Sometimes, your insurer may send a second, or even a third, reminder as you approach or pass your due date. The cynical-minded might think it’s the insurer taking every opportunity to get you to renew with it. But it can also act as a helpful kick up the proverbial if you haven’t quite got round to sorting out your new policy.

How can I renew my car insurance when it is due?

You have two choices when your car insurance due date rolls around.

  1. Renew with the same insurer. If you’re happy with your existing insurer, and its renewal quote is reasonable, then you can choose to stay put. If your policy is set up to auto-renew, you probably don’t need to do anything. Your premium will be taken using the same payment method you used last year. If auto-renewal isn’t set up, you’ll need to contact the insurer to settle the bill. However, even if your existing insurer’s renewal quote seems decent, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get a better deal elsewhere. So we’d always recommend at least considering option 2.
  2. Compare insurers and switch to the best deal. Your current insurer may have offered the best deal last year. But that doesn’t automatically mean it still does. Insurance underwriting works in mysterious ways, and even if your circumstances haven’t changed, another insurer may now work out better. In our opinion, the minor hassle of running a search on a price comparison site, and perhaps checking a couple of direct-only insurers, could be more than worth it in the savings you could make. Even if you decide to stay with your existing insurer, you could use your research to negotiate a better price.

Compare quotes with Confused.

When should I renew my car insurance policy?

You don’t have to wait until the day before your car insurance is due to renew your policy. In fact, when we did some snapshot research in mid 2023, we found that a VW-driving, London-based teacher could save 12% (£136) off their premium by securing a deal 2-3 weeks ahead, compared with renewing on the due date. And some studies have found you can save even more (between 17% and 42%).

Don’t worry about getting on the case any earlier than 3 weeks in advance of your due date, though. Premiums are unlikely to be any cheaper before this point. And most insurers won’t even let you get quotes more than 30 days ahead of your due date.

What can I do to ensure I don’t forget my renewal date?

If you’re not the best at keeping track of admin dates, and don’t want to risk relying on your car insurer’s renewal notice arriving safely, there are tactics you can use to make sure you don’t forget.

  • Set reminders in your phone or diary. Pop a couple of prompts in, perhaps 4 and 2 weeks ahead of your due date. This will make sure not only that you remember to renew, but also that you have plenty of time to secure the best deal. Renewal quotes tend to be cheaper if you search 2 or 3 weeks ahead rather than leaving it until closer to the due date.
  • Sign up for auto-renewal. With this option, your car insurance will automatically renew with the same insurer when the due date rolls around. Some insurers will set this up by default. With others you may need to actively opt in. Auto-renewal won’t guarantee you the best deal, but it will mean you don’t risk driving uninsured.
  • Keep an eye on your junk email folder. Sometimes overzealous email filters can mistakenly send important emails from your insurer to your spam or junk folder. It’s worth checking this at least once a month to make sure you don’t miss crucial reminders.

How can I check if my car is insured?

Let’s say you’ve misplaced your policy documents and can’t quite remember who you last bought insurance from. Or, importantly, when your renewal is (or was) due. You don’t want to risk driving without insurance…but nor do you want to risk double paying, if you still have weeks (or months) left on your existing policy.

All is not lost. The MIB (Motor Insurance Bureau) holds a central record of all insured vehicles in the UK – the Motor Insurance Database. Swing by its askMID website to run a free check on whether your vehicle is currently insured.

Be aware, though, that the free askMID service only shows you if your car is insured as of the date you run the search. It doesn’t tell you who the insurer is, or when your policy expires. You can put in a request for all information the MIB holds about your insurance history, such as the name of your insurer, by putting in a data subject access request. But this can take a while and there may be a small fee.

So it could be worth having another search for those elusive policy documents, or searching through past bank statements to work out who your insurer is.

What should I do if my car insurance has expired?

Danny Butler

Finder insurance expert Danny Butler answers

Well, firstly and most importantly, don’t drive. If you’re caught driving without insurance, even if it’s a genuine mistake, you could face points on your licence and a £300 fine. The financial penalty can be unlimited for more serious or repeat offences, and you could even find yourself temporarily banned from driving.

Plus, if you’re involved in an accident, you won’t be covered and could face eye-watering repair bills for your own car. And, potentially, the cars or property of anyone else involved.

Unfortunately, though, simply not driving your car isn’t enough to stay on the right side of the law. Cars must be insured even to be parked on a public road in the UK. If your insurance has lapsed, you must immediately either:

Don’t be the numpty that’s risks punitive measures simply because you haven’t got round to buying a new policy by the due date. Use our tips above to make sure you never miss your renewal deadline.

Bottom line

Missing your car insurance due date could result in points on your licence and a £300 financial penalty (or more, in some cases). There are ways to find out when your car insurance is due, even if you’ve lost your policy documents. Use the tips we’ve outlined in this article to make sure you don’t forget your due date, and compare quotes a couple of weeks in advance to secure the best car insurance deal.

Frequently asked questions

*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (Mar ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £539.54
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Ceri Stanaway is a researcher, writer and editor with more than 15 years’ experience, including a long stint at independent publisher Which?. She’s helped people find the best products and services, and avoid the pitfalls, across topics ranging from broadband to insurance. Outside of work, you can often find her sampling the fares in local cafes. See full bio

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