What happens if you have a car accident without an MOT?

    black car in a crash

    Collisions and car accidents are frightening, to say the least. But what happens if your vehicle wasn’t certified as roadworthy to begin with? 

    In the UK, all passenger cars and vans must pass an annual Ministry of Transport (MOT) exam to ensure that they meet governmental safety and environmental standards. It is illegal to drive on British roads without a valid MOT certificate. Lacking proper certification can also impact the resale price of your vehicle if and when you choose to sell.  

    Knowing your car’s MOT status is a key part of responsible vehicle ownership. However, if you’re in an accident and don’t have an MOT, don’t panic. Read on for how to navigate the safety, legal, and financial implications of being involved in a collision without a valid MOT.

    Motorway’s free MOT Checker tool shares your vehicle’s MOT status instantly.

    In the UK, having a valid MOT certificate is a legal requirement for cars and vans older than three years (or four years in Northern Ireland). To foster safer roads across the country, the comprehensive MOT exam tests that crucial vehicle components meet the latest functionality, safety, and emissions guidelines. 

    Vehicles are awarded yearly MOT certificates. To continue driving without interruption, cars must undergo another MOT inspection before their current certificate expires

    Without a valid MOT, driving on public roads is illegal and can result in a variety of penalties and fines. Additionally, car insurance companies may refuse to cover damages if your vehicle doesn’t have a valid MOT at the time of an accident.

    There are only a few exceptions to annual MOT testing. Historic vehicles, newly purchased cars (or those under three years old), and certain lorries or Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) are not legally required to have MOT certificates. Similarly, cars or vans driving to pre-booked MOT or repair appointments do not need valid MOT certificates. 

    Driving without an MOT

    All passenger vehicles three years or older are required to pass an annual MOT inspection to drive legally on British roads.

    As the MOT certifies the safety and roadworthiness of your vehicle, driving without a valid MOT carries heavy consequences. We break these down into four categories:

    🧑‍⚖️ Legal penalties

    • Fines of up to £1,000
    • Penalty points on your driving licence
    • Vehicle seizure and impoundment

    🚨 Safety risks

    • Lack of essential safety and emission checks
    • Increased risk of accidents or breakdowns, putting the health and safety of drivers, passengers, and bystanders in jeopardy

    📝 Insurance implications

    • Potential voidance of insurance coverage, which is a legal necessity in the UK
    • Driver takes on liability for damages from collisions

    💰 Financial burdens

    • Significant repair costs to meet MOT standards and fix damages following an accident
    • Decrease in resale value as car may be seen as a riskier investment, impacting potential future transactions

    Additionally, the one-two hit of driving without an MOT and getting into an accident could lead to disqualification from driving, causing significant inconvenience in daily life.

    The role of insurance in the absence of a valid MOT

    Driving without a valid MOT certificate could impact your car insurance coverage.

    Like a valid MOT certificate, all UK drivers are also required to have valid car insurance to legally hit the road. However, many insurance policies mandate compliance with legal obligations. 

    Depending on your insurance policy, driving without a valid MOT may invalidate your coverage. That means you could be personally liable for damages and legal costs in the event of an accident.

    For the most accurate information for your situation, consult your car insurance policy. Specifically, keep an eye out for: 

    • Coverage details – Read the fine print for what your car insurance covers, and if this changes should your vehicle not have a valid MOT certificate. Some insurance policies also include stipulations about vehicle upkeep and maintenance to help prevent accidents and associated liabilities. Not adhering to these conditions may impact your coverage or result in additional costs.
    • Financial liability – Under your insurance, what are you personally liable for in the event of an accident? If your insurance is invalidated due to your car’s MOT status,you could be personally liable for expenses arising from an accident, including repairs and medical costs. Plus, you may face legal action due to insufficient coverage, which will also cost a pretty penny.  
    • Claims processing procedures – Insurers investigate accidents thoroughly, considering factors like the vehicle’s MOT status. Know how your insurance company assesses collisions and how much MOT status impacts claims. 
    • Policy renewal and future coverage – Non-compliance with MOT requirements can affect your eligibility for insurance policy renewal. Insurance premiums may also increase following accidents, especially if MOT non-compliance is a contributing factor.
    • Legal compliance – Driving without a valid MOT violates the Road Traffic Act, subjecting you to legal penalties. You may also face additional legal consequences if your insurance is cancelled due to your vehicle’s MOT status.

    Steps to take after an accident without a valid MOT

    In an accident without proper MOT certification? Follow these 10 steps: 

    1. Ensure safety – Safety is the number one priority after a collision. Check for injuries and move vehicles to a safe location, if possible. If severe, call emergency services for assistance.

    2. Exchange information – Collect contact and insurance details from all involved parties.

    3. Notify authorities – Report the accident to the police and provide accurate information about your location. 

    4. Document the scene – Take photographs of any and all vehicle damage and note relevant details about the accident.

    5. Contact your insurance provider – Once you’ve safely left the scene of the accident and addressed all health and safety concerns, contact your car insurer. Notify them about the accident and your lack of MOT.

    6. Seek legal advice – If relevant, consult a solicitor specialising in motor law to understand your rights, especially regarding coverage and liability.

    7. Arrange vehicle MOT inspection and repair – Schedule an MOT check promptly and address any issues identified with a qualified mechanic. Remember: vehicles without valid MOTs can only be driven to pre-arranged repairs or MOT retests. 

    8. Follow-up with authorities – Attend to medical needs and cooperate with authorities on all legal matters.

    9. Review insurance coverage – Understand the terms and conditions of your specific insurance policy as related to MOT certification. Seek clarification on coverage and next steps from your provider.

    10. Prevent future incidents – Stay informed about your MOT renewal deadlines and prioritise vehicle maintenance to ensure your car remains roadworthy.

    Navigating legal issues after an accident 

    The law may be involved in the aftermath of a vehicle collision. While this may seem daunting, understanding your legal rights and obligations as a motorist, as well as the bounds of the Road Traffic Act and other motoring laws, will help you navigate the situation smoothly. Be sure to read up on the legal and insurance penalties for driving a vehicle without valid MOT certification.  

    Immediately following an accident, exchange information with the other driver (if applicable) and gather evidence from the scene. This can include photos, witness statements, and accident reports to support your case and defend against potential legal claims.

    You, the police, and your insurance will all look to determine fault and liability for the accident. Parties will consider factors like negligence, road conditions, and adherence to MOT requirements in determining fault. Cooperating with law enforcement, such as by providing accurate information and documentation, is key.

    To better understand your rights and obligations after an accident, you can also consult with a solicitor experienced in motoring law. This may be helpful as you engage in negotiations with insurance companies or other parties involved to reach a fair settlement for damages and injuries. 

    You can also explore options such as mediation or arbitration to resolve disputes outside of court, potentially avoiding lengthy and costly legal proceedings.


    Can you claim insurance without an MOT?

    Generally, car insurance claims can be made even if your vehicle does not have a valid MOT certificate. However, your coverage may be affected. Insurers may investigate and could deny claims if non-compliance contributed to the accident. It’s essential to notify your insurer promptly.

    What is the punishment for no MOT?

    Driving without a valid MOT certificate is illegal and can lead to fines of up to £1,000, penalty points on your licence, and possible vehicle seizure. Additionally, insurance coverage may be void, exposing you to personal liability in accidents.

    If your MOT is expired, schedule a retest as soon as possible to continue driving legally. 

    How can I check my car’s MOT status? 

    With Motorway’s new MOT Checker, it’s never been easier to know the status of your vehicle’s MOT.

    Simply enter your vehicle registration number into our free tool and tap the ‘Check MOT’ button. You’ll get an instant response saying if your MOT is valid and giving you a countdown until your certificate runs out.  

    With the MOT Checker, you can also explore your vehicle’s full MOT history and, if your car possesses a valid MOT certificate, set reminders for when to schedule your next exam. 

    Can you sell a car without an MOT?

    Yes, you can sell a car if it doesn’t have a valid MOT. However, this will be much more difficult!

    Lacking an MOT certificate will likely reduce both your potential buyer pool and your vehicle’s sales price as buyers are shopping for safe transport. Since their roadworthiness has not been verified, cars that do not have valid MOT certificates carry an additional element of risk and may seem like a riskier investment. Similarly, cars that have failed their MOT are more likely to be classified as Cat D write-offs and could be dangerous! 

    If your car fails the MOT test and you’re looking to get rid of it, another option could be to sell it for scrap

    Is it time to sell your car?

    Want to learn more about owning, maintaining, and selling your car

    Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from finding buyers, to negotiating a good price, and completing payment safely. And don’t miss our new MOT checker tool, which lets you check your car’s MOT status and history instantly – for free!