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Declare Your Car SORN - The Why And The How

It is now, due to new laws that have been put in place, compulsory for any registered keeper of a vehicle who has not insured said vehicle to declare their car SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification). SORN does not cost the registered keeper anything and is automatically cancelled when the vehicle is re-taxed. Your vehicle can be declared SORN online via directgov.co.uk or calling 0300 123 4321.

Any car that is not insured must have a reasonable excuse. Such excuses that are deemed reasonable are: if you have a SORN for your vehicle, if the vehicle has been off-road since before the new SORN laws came into place, if your vehicle has been reported stolen or sold on, if your vehicle is recorded as having been scrapped. The penalties for not declaring your car SORN are rather severe. Drivers face a primary penalty of £100 and risk having their car clamped, impounded and even destroyed. SORN must be declared in addition to this fine or the driver risks further penalties. In order for drivers to avoid these penalties, they must declare their uninsured vehicles SORN, send their current valid tax disc to the DVLA with a V14 (this is an application form for a refund of a tax disc). Exceptions to the new laws are cars that were manufactured before 1st January 1973 and have a ‘nil value tax disc’. A car that is taxed must also have car insurance and thus is subject to the new SORN regulation.

Any car that does not have car insurance and is not declared SORN will be sent an ‘Insurance Advisory Letter’, which is the beginning of the penalty process. These letters can be sent as soon as the Motor Insurance Bureau locates an uninsured vehicle without the SORN declaration, so you should handle the transition from on-road to off-road quickly or face serious financial repercussions. Following the £100 fine mentioned earlier, fines can increase to £1,000 if the case goes to court.

The new SORN rules were brought in as part of the Road Safety Act 2006 to help the government and police crackdown on the 1.5 million illegal uninsured motorists who cost the country £30 for everyone’s average insurance premiums to fund payments to the victims in car insurance claims. The SORN regulations allow the government to find those drivers who do not insure their vehicles and simultaneously do not declare their vehicles off-road, pinpointing some of the culprits of uninsured motoring accidents. Some insurers - including one of our promoted insurers - Direct Line offer an uninsured driver promise.

Overall, the SORN regulations do not really affect honest motorists as they do not cost anything. It is worth the little extra hassle if it means making the roads a lot safer, reducing the amount of people driving without valid car insurance, and thus diminishing the risk of a car accident (a risk that is more likely and more severe on average if an uninsured driver is involved). It is advisable, however, for drivers who have vehicles declared SORN to consider adequate off-road insurance to defend against vandalism and fire or theft whilst the car remains on the drive or in the garage uninsured.
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