Why Can't I Get Car Insurance?

10 things that could be stopping you from getting covered

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By Sarah Watts
Updated on Thursday 17 August 2023

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Many UK drivers are blissfully unaware that you can be refused car insurance and do not know the many reasons why this can happen.

If you have never been refused a car insurance quote in the past or you are attempting to take out car insurance for the very first time, it’s completely understandable why being refused cover has not yet occurred to you.

If you are refused car insurance and wonder ‘Why can’t I get insurance on my car?’ and ‘What can I do about it?’ DO NOT WORRY as we can help answer these questions and many more in our comprehensive guide below.

If you've been refused car insurance, there is usually a reason. Here are 10 potential reasons why you may be getting denied cover in the UK.

The Top 10 Reasons for being refused car insurance or paying higher car insurance premiums

1. Convictions

2. Car’s History

3. Car Modifications

4. Learner/New Driver

5. Age

6. Health

7. Where You Live

8. Kit Cars

9. Claim Refused or Policy Cancelled

10. Bad Credit

1. Convictions

Any type of criminal conviction (not just driving offences) can affect your ability to obtain car insurance and/or significantly increase your premiums.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) provides a comprehensive good practice guide for criminal convictions for insurers, and gives consumers an in-depth insight as to how insurers may treat you if you have a criminal conviction that isn’t spent. Any unspent motoring convictions will have a significant impact on your insurance, too.

There are a multitude of motoring offences that can result in driving convictions including:

  • Failing to stop or report an accident
  • Driving whilst disqualified
  • Careless driving
  • Condition of your car (i.e. tyre tread)
  • Reckless / dangerous driving (this is more serious than ‘careless driving’)
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving without valid insurance
  • Driving Licence offences (misuse or deception)
  • Motorway offences (i.e. ignoring roadworks signs)
  • Pedestrian crossing offences (i.e. running a red light)
  • Speeding offences
  • Ignoring traffic direction signs
  • Ban for receiving maximum 12 points on Licence
  • Theft or unauthorised taking of vehicle
  • Miscellaneous offences like motorway racing

Many motoring offence convictions are not considered ‘spent’ for 4 years and for more serious offences, they will be spent in 11 years.

To check if your criminal conviction(s) are ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, there is a charitable organisation called www.unlock.org.uk who can help you. Unlock helpfully provides a free online disclosure calculator where you can make the necessary checks about your spent or unspent conviction(s).

You must declare any current (unspent) convictions to an insurance company who may refuse to insure you as a result. You do not have to declare ‘spent’ convictions.

If you have unspent convictions, all is not lost as you can get car insurance for convicted drivers from specialist insurers.

2. Car’s History

So you’ve just bought a super, duper, newish used car and have shared pics of it on Facebook, but do you know your vehicle's history? If it transpires that your car has been imported, stolen or written-off, this could affect your ability to obtain car insurance.

So, can you be denied car insurance for an imported, stolen or written-off car?

If your car is stolen when you go to insure it, your insurer will discover if a car is stolen as it will be flagged up as such on the Motor Insurance Database (MIB).

If your car has previously been declared a ‘write-off’, most insurers will insist on an ‘engineer’s report’ to check your car is safe to drive before agreeing to insure your car. If you’re importing a car, there are usually specialist insurers you can use to insure your imported car.

However, if you want to import a car from abroad, there are a few things you should know:

  • Insurers will require cars to be built outside of Europe, known as ‘grey’ cars, and pass a Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) test costing £200. This test is to make sure you can legally drive your car in the UK as non-EU cars are usually more powerful or technical than cars produced in the EU.
  • In addition, purchasing parts for imported, non-EU built cars will be more difficult and perhaps costly, further bumping up insurance costs.
  • At the moment, ‘parallel’ cars (cars built in Europe) are not as expensive to insure as pre-Brexit, they conform to European standards and regulations. However, checks should be made before importing a car post-Brexit.

When buying a car, it’s always best to do a comprehensive check of a car’s history so there’s no nasty surprises when you arrange to insure it.

There is an online service you can use to do this called hpicheck.com. Starting from £9.99, this handy tool will let you know if your car has been imported, stolen or declared a write-off and much more.

3. Car Modifications

Are you a ‘Boy Racer’ with a lowered suspension, blacked-out windows, a loud twin exhaust and a really cool [illegal] number plate with a penchant for speeding?

Or maybe you fall into the surprising 33% of women Compare the Market report as having obtained modified car insurance quotes.

Either way, there are many modifications you can make to your car that can adversely affect or even void your insurance, from engine, bodywork, wheel and exhaust modifications through to software updates and stickers?!

For more detailed information, check out our blog, How Will Modifications Affect My Car Insurance?

4. Learner/New Driver

Whilst learning to drive doesn’t automatically make you uninsurable, everyone knows that learner driver insurance isn’t cheap and many young drivers may struggle to afford the extortionate premiums.

Equally, if you’re a new driver who has just passed their test, you will need to shop around and compare quotes to get the best deal you can for new driver insurance.

How do I get my car insurance to go down as a young/new/learner driver?

There are many ways you can get your car insurance premiums lowered such as:

Surprisingly, comprehensive car insurance is cheaper than third party or third party, fire and theft as insurers have found that the majority of drivers who opt for third party insurance, very often make a claim on their policy.

So always make sure you include quotes for comprehensive car insurance when comparing quotes for car insurance.

5. Age

If you’re very young or old, unfortunately, you may be penalised for this by car insurers.

According to ABI, “statistics show that young drivers are far more likely to be involved in accidents than drivers aged 25 and older. Drivers aged between 17 and 24 only make up 7% of UK licence holders and drive fewer miles than the average person, but are involved in 24 per cent of all fatal collisions.”

And according to Age UK, “21% of people aged 80 plus are refused car insurance because they are too old”. In addition, “85% of people aged 80 plus are not ‘signposted’ after being refused a quote despite industry agreement.”

ABI has published data showing how insurance age brackets in the UK significantly affect the cost of car insurance premiums:

  • 18-20 year olds pay an average premium of £972
  • 21-25 year olds pay an average premium of £649
  • 26-30 year olds pay an average premium of £502
  • 31-35 year olds pay an average premium of £426
  • 36-40 year olds pay an average premium of £378
  • 41-45 year olds pay an average premium of £343
  • 46-50 year olds pay an average premium of £326
  • 51-55 year olds pay an average premium of £306
  • 56-60 year olds pay an average premium of £277
  • 61-65 year olds pay an average premium of £252
  • 66-70 year olds pay an average premium of £241
  • 71-75 year olds pay an average premium of £255
  • 76-80 year olds pay an average premium of £291
  • 81-85 year olds pay an average premium of £352
  • 86-90 year olds pay an average premium of £415
  • 91+ year olds pay an average premium of £478

If you fall into one of the above car insurance age brackets who pay higher than average insurance costs, please click on a link below for detailed information about car insurance options for younger or older drivers:

6. Health

If you have a serious health condition and/or failing eyesight which affects your ability to drive, you may not be insurable or indeed allowed a Driving Licence by the DVLA.

If your health has changed since you were last issued a Licence or obtained insurance, then you must report this to the DVLA and to your insurer straight away.

Take a look at our guide What Medical Conditions Must be Declared for Car Insurance? to find out more.

7. Where you live

If you live in a high-risk area where car crime is rife or you park your car on a busy road rather than on a driveway or in a garage, then this will negatively impact your car insurance premiums.

Likewise, if you live in a more favourable postcode and/or in less built-up areas (i.e. the countryside), your car insurance will be cheaper.

Apart from moving home and/or changing jobs, there’s not much you can do about this. However, as mentioned above, there are lots of other ways you can get car insurance for cheaper.

8. Kit Cars

Kit cars can be difficult to insure because:

  • They are not built by a trusted, reputable manufacturer
  • The parts are more expensive to replace
  • They lack crucial security features enjoyed by manufactured cars
  • They may not be considered ‘safe’ by Thatcham research

Thatcham Research is the UK’s only ‘not for profit’ insurer funded research centre, and insurers rely heavily on Thatcham research for advice as to the safety and performance of a vehicle.

You may therefore struggle to obtain kit car insurance from most mainstream insurers unless you certify your car as roadworthy. Luckily, there is a test for this called an “Individual Vehicle Approval test” (IVA) costing around £199.

For more advice, take a look at our blog on How to Get the Best UK Kit Car Insurance.

9. Claim refused or policy cancelled

If you’ve had a car insurance claim refused or a policy cancelled, then this will be flagged up to insurers and could make you uninsurable with many difference companies. On top of this, a cancelled insurance policy will stay on your record for a total of five years.

To combat insurance fraud like car insurance fronting, the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE) is a central database where insurers can check if a claim has been refused or a policy cancelled.

If you want to check what information is held about you on CUE’s database, you can complete a Subject Access Request form online via the MIB’s website.

Learn more: What is AskMID? - Checking the Insurance Status of a Vehicle

10. Bad Credit

Finally, if you have a low credit score, this can negatively impact you being offered affordable insurance premiums, particularly if you want to pay monthly. Bad credit will also affect your ability to pay your insurance premiums by monthly instalments (enter into a finance agreement).

For more information, read our blog: Car Insurance for Bad Credit UK and to check your score to find out your eligibility for credit, tap the button below:

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