If you need to check if your car or van is insured, there's a free online check that's available 24/7.
Access the Motor Insurance Database
Insurance companies post details of all car and van insurance policies to central databases, which form a digital record of insurance policies for each vehicle. Authorities like the police can use these databases to trace drivers involved in accidents or traffic offences, for example, and agencies like the DVLA use it to make sure that every vehicle not declared SORN has insurance in place.
You can access the Motor Insurance Database (MID) yourself to check the database has a record for any car or van if it is either registered/owned/insured by you or your employer, or you are permitted to drive it. Wrongfully accessing it for other vehicles is an offence.
You can head straight to the database at https://ownvehicle.askmid.com/
What if my vehicle isn't showing as insured?
There are several reasons why your vehicle might not show as insured when you think it should be.
First, dig out your car or van insurance documents and check the following:
1) The vehicle registration number. The whole database is organised by vehicle registration numbers. If you've either typed it in wrong on your quote, the insurer has misheard it over the phone, or maybe you've bought a private/cherished number plate and not updated your policy, all of these things could lead to a mismatch on the database. If it's wrong, contact your insurer ASAP to get it corrected.
2) The policy or amendment start date (whichever is later). It can be easy to accidentally start your policy on the wrong day. Your vehicle won't show as insured on the database until at least the first day of cover. If you set up your policy last-minute, it'll likely take your insurance company a couple of days to pass your details to the database. You're still insured in the meantime, but just be aware of it. Again though, if it's wrong, you need to get your insurer to correct it ASAP.
If both of those things check out, and your policy has been live at least 2 or 3 working days, it's probably worth contacting your insurer and ask them to check at their end why your vehicle isn't showing as insured. Breakdowns in the data exchange between insurance companies and the database can, and do happen, your insurer might need to manually send through an updated record, but they'll advise you of their processes when you contact them if there's a problem.
So what if my vehicle isn't showing as insured?
The main thing is you know you're insured and you have your policy documents to prove it. However, there are so many systems hooked up to the Motor Insurance Database these days, having a vehicle not showing as insured when it rightly should be can be a real annoyance and in some cases leave you out of pocket. The last thing you want is to be pulled over by the police and potentially have your vehicle seized for no insurance if the police can't validate your insurance cover at the roadside. Nor do you want Insurance Advisory Letters from the DVLA which will threaten fines if you don't get insurance for your vehicle sorted. They're not going to leave you alone until your vehicle shows on the database.
That all sounds a bit scary, should I be worried?
No! The database was made available for public access to allow vehicle owners to check their vehicles are showing as insured and in all but the rarest of cases, policy details will update correctly on the Motor Insurance Database. At the very least it's peace of mind knowing that systems are working as they should be, and in the extreme it might help you flag an issue that prevents one of the unintended consequences mentioned above.