What is SORN and Continuous Insurance Enforcement?

honda cb750 1969
Many owners of classic motorcycles will be affected by CIE.

I am a very keen motorcyclist and like many others I am faced each year with the issue of whether or not to leave my motorcycle registered for the road over the winter months. A number of my friends also have classic motorcycles that are only rarely used in the summer months.

I was shocked when I heard recently about the upcoming changes to the law regarding insurance for off-road motorbikes and other vehicles: I heard it would soon be illegal to own a vehicle – even one you are not using – and not insuring it.

On investigation, I found the real situation was a little more complicated and although there was some hope, the new law will certainly have a major impact on all of us who want to adhere fully.

Update: It seems that an interesting solution has revealed itself on our own doorstep, so if you’ll excuse the shameless plug, it seems I’ve discovered a new type of insurance!

I thought I should share this topic with RiskHeads readers right away and get feedback on what people are thinking and doing about this. Read on for the full story and information on how to stay within the law…

What Does SORN mean ?

Since 31st January 1988, SORN has been an abbreviation for Statutory Off Road Notification.

If you are the registered keeper of a vehicle that’s not being road taxed and is kept off road you must make a Statutory Off Road Notification. This is done online or by phone as long as you are registered as the vehicle keeper. It’s all very straightforward and you receive an acknowledgement letter from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) soon after they are notified.

The SORN ends when the registered keeper changes or road tax is purchased for the vehicle.

What is Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) and what’s all the fuss about?

Put simply, from 1st April 2011 it became illegal to keep a vehicle and not insure or SORN it.

Previously it was only an offence to use a vehicle without insurance but the new law means that if your vehicle is kept in a garage and never used it will still need to be insured or otherwise declared SORN.

V890 SORN form
Everyone's favourite V890 SORN form.

From the end of June 2011 Insurance Advisory Letters (IAL) will be issued by the Motor Insurers Bureau to the registered keepers of uninsured vehicles. This will be following a check of the Motor Insurance Database (MID).

The IAL will advise the registered keeper that their vehicle appears to have no insurance and what actions to take to avoid receiving a fixed penalty from DVLA.

If the vehicle does not have insurance the registered keeper could:

• Receive a fixed penalty of £100
• Have their vehicle wheel-clamped, impounded or destroyed
• Face a court prosecution, with a possible maximum fine of £1,000

And moreover, payment of a penalty does not replace the need for insurance.

If I have a vehicle laid up what should I do ?

If you have no intention of using the vehicle on the road an extended period then it must be SORN’d right away!

If on the other hand the vehicle is only off the road for a short period then you could just retain your insurance during this period.

How can I insure a vehicle that is currently SORN ?

The normal approach is to ask your Insurers if they would restrict your normal cover to Fire and Theft only as you will not need the Third Party cover that is required under the Road Traffic Act.

Unfortunately I found that many insurers will not consider this reduced cover so you have to pay for full cover that you do not actually need.

Update: The shameless plug

Well, a funny thing happened after I wrote this article. You might not believe it, I probably wouldn’t – which is just A-OK with me – but I was contacted by a client of our sister company, who are offering a new product designed for, yes you’ve guessed it, off-road motorcycle insurance.

It seems therefore that there is a solution to this dilemma – for motorcycles at least – in the form of a new website, www.sorninsurance.co.uk So I did a little review.

It seems the website offers motorcycle owners genuine ‘laid up’ cover for all bikes, not just classics. I’m told it’s a new scheme aimed at bikers to reduce the cost of their premiums by providing cover for the bike whilst its kept off the road.

So clearly it covers your bike whilst stored in your garage or shed – something the average household insurance policy does not cover – providing fire and theft insurance whilst your bike is off the public highway.

The policy looks good for bikers who don’t ride some of their bikes or for people who just want some cover during the winter months, or those who have a collection of machines or their bike is too ‘modern’ for a classic laid up policy.

I got in touch with SORN Insurance ‘s Head of Products Paul Wheeler who was happy to give me a quote for RiskHeads (no surprises there!)…

“We know motorbike owners suffer sleepless nights knowing their pride and joy may be at risk as they can’t get a Fire and Theft only policy. The ones who get some have a standard Third Party Fire & Theft policy which means they end up paying through the nose for cover they don’t really want or need. Our ‘laid-up’ policy is available on all motorcycles with no age restrictions. To get an instant quote and buy online visit www.sorninsurance.co.uk or call and speak to an advisor on 0844 3188 398.”

Well there you have it! This may not be right for everyone, but it’s the best solution I’ve seen.

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  1. I’ve got 4 bikes on Sorn and I went on this site and it was pretty easy to use but the prices we more than I expected. Anyway I rang them and asked what they could do and they took some more details and lowered the price (to even cheaper that I wanted to pay) So I’m really happy now knowing my bikes are covered and I haven’t had to have open wallet surgery!

    Thanks Riskheads!

  2. ? i am interested in purchasing a 1975 motorcycle that i understand has not been SORN reg for the 5 years ? If i complete the deal i would reg it for Sorn however would the previous owner be responsible for back dated SORN —regard evan

    1. Hi Evan,

      The previous period when the vehicle was not registered to you and I assume was neither insured or SORN would not be your responsibility as you were not the registered owner at that time.

      Personally I would ask for a receipt if you complete the purchase which clearly shows the date and time that the vehicle legally becomes yours as at that point it must be declared SORN or have insurance arranged on it.

      If you have any concerns I would speak to the SORN department at DVLA


  3. Hi, I’m glad you have found someone to insure your bike. I have spent all day trying to insure my sorned Mercedes for 3 months while I have an ankle operation and will not be driving. Nobody will do it!

  4. I’ve just phoned the SORN bike guys – they will not quote or insure unless your bike is garaged AND bolted to the floor. Talk about OTT for where I live! One size does not fit all… am disappointed and still scrabbling about trying to find cover for my bike.

    1. Hello,
      I’m sorry you were not able to get a quote from our contact centre for your bike. It is true that we apply certain security terms to bikes and to be fair we have some flexibility depending on where you live as the more ‘rural’ the less risk of theft applies. I am happy to review your quote as I agree one size does not fit all and I will work with our underwriting team to widen the criteria for security if we encounter this as an issue for our potential clients. If you email enquiries@sorninsurance.co.uk with your name and contact details I will review the quote and see if I can place you on cover. Thanks, Paul

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