The government is forcing all motorists to insure their vehicle whether they drive it or not, under controversial rules that are designed to combat uninsured driving.
Under the terms of the little-known continuous insurance enforcement law, it will be an offence to "keep" an uninsured vehicle – be it a car, van, motorbike, motorhome or truck – even if it is locked up in the garage or permanently parked on a driveway. Until now it has only been an offence to actively drive an uninsured vehicle.
The change has been introduced quietly, but it will have a big impact on any motorist who has bought a new car but is yet to dispose of the old one, and on sports car owners who park their vehicles for much of the year.
Such drivers will no longer be able to put a car uninsured in the garage or parked off the road. In future they will have to contact the DVLA in Swansea, declare the car as "off the road" by filling in a statutory off road notification (Sorn), and give up the tax disc at the same time.
The government has introduced the changes, which appear at odds with its campaign to abolish red tape, as part of its fight against uninsured drivers.
A national advertising campaign has been launched by the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB), but few drivers are probably aware of the change.
Mike Penning, the road safety minister, says: "Uninsured drivers are a danger on our roads, killing 160 and injuring a further 23,000 people each year, and they cost honest motorists £500m in extra premiums.
"That is why we are introducing this tough new law, which will leave uninsured drivers with nowhere to hide. Our message is clear: get insured or face a fine, court action or seeing your car seized and destroyed."
However, the plan will have major cost implications for law-abiding vehicle owners who want to park their car temporarily after its insurance expires.
From Monday 20 June), the DVLA will work with the MIB to identify uninsured vehicles. Motorists will receive a letter telling them their vehicle appears to be uninsured, and warning them they will be fined unless they take action. The first letters will start going out in the next few days. If the keeper fails to insure the vehicle they will be given a £100 fine.