Private number plates can affect your car insurance

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A rare DVLA number plate ‘TAX 1′ is expected to fetch up to £100,000 when it is auctioned next week – but drivers thinking about buying a personalised plate are being urged to consider the insurance implications.

The plate, which may appeal to tax experts or taxi firms, is likely to be one of the most expensive ever sold.  And while a registration plate costing tens of thousands of pounds will be beyond most people’s finances, personal plates are growing in popularity.

Personalised registration numbers from the DVLA start at £250 and, in 2016-17 the DVLA reportedly sold about 375,000 personalised plates.

The perfect private plate for a 4×4?

Is your private plate covered by your car insurance?

But, GoCompare car insurance is warning drivers thinking about buying a personalised plate that if their vehicle is stolen or written off, the private plate may be at risk.

The company analysed 302 comprehensive car insurance policies, which revealed only 19 specifically cover the loss of a personalised plate if the car was lost or stolen.   Of those providing cover, the sum insured varied widely from £200 to unlimited. 16 insurers cover a financial loss of £5,000 or more.

When an insurance claim is made for the cost of a car, the insurer owns both the vehicle and the registration number assigned to it. This also applies to personalised plates.

The claimant can repurchase the registration number from the insurer, if it still owns it, for no more than the settlement price. But, if the vehicle has already been disposed of by the insurer, then all rights to the registration plate go with the vehicle.

If a car with a personalised plate is stolen and not recovered, its owner will have to wait 12 months to get the number plate back. To reclaim the personalised plate, they will also have to prove that the car had a valid MOT and tax at the time of theft.

Similarly, motorists who’ve had a car with a personalised number plate written off have to arrange for the number to be transferred to another vehicle or retained on a certificate in sufficient time before the claim is settled.

Registration numbers move with the vehicle, not the owner

Registration numbers move with the vehicle they are assigned to, not the person who bought it.  So, if the vehicle is written off and the car scrapped – the number plate can disappear with it.

The policyholder will need to contact the DVLA and their insurer to let them know that they want to keep the plate.  The insurer will then write a letter of non-interest and send it to the DVLA.

The registered keeper will have to pay a retention fee to keep the plate if they don’t have another vehicle to transfer it to.

Matt Oliver from GoCompare commented: “When you register a personalised plate to a vehicle, you need to tell your insurer immediately, otherwise your policy could be invalidated. And if you’ve paid a lot for a registration number, you should consider whether it’s properly insured.”

A subtle depiction of a suitable private plate for a fish & chip vendor.

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Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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  1. I have recently received my new log book with my private number plate as it was a birthday present I have emailed my insurance as there shut now until monday but my log book for my car now is registered with my new plates am I ok driving?

    • My son was stopped because the documentation online that the police check showed the vehicle was uninsured as the plates and the appropriate insurance did not match. There had been a change when he had bought the car and the private number was still on the cars record not the replacement number he was driving with. He had told everyone , but things had not been done properly. fortunately the police involved where happy to take the time to get it sorted! ALL fine in the end, but you really need to get it all in writing from the insurers to make absolutely clear what you are doing!!

      From that little adventure I would say you cannot drive unless the actual numbers match. The new plates make it a different car as far as the police are concerned. Or have you been naughty and put fake plates on for some nefarious reason? (wha ha ha)

      Hope that you enjoy your pressy

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