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What is impounded car insurance?

If your car’s been impounded and you want to get it back, you may need specialist car insurance. Here, we explain why and how to retrieve your car from the pound.

Why are cars impounded?

Cars are usually impounded because they’re untaxed while on a public road. Even if a car has a SORN (statutory off road notification), it can still be taken away as one of the conditions of a SORN, is that it must be kept on private land.

Not having tax isn’t the only reason why cars end up in a pound. Cars can also be impounded because they were:

  • Parked illegally
  • Causing an obstruction
  • Uninsured
  • Involved in an accident or in criminal activities
  • Stolen
  • Being driven without insurance

What is impounded car insurance?

Impounded car insurance is a specialist policy that covers the retrieval of your car from a police pound.

Policies typically provide comprehensive cover and last for 30 days which is the minimum cover you need to release your car (although some policies can last for 12-months).

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Why do I need impounded car insurance?

Standard car insurance doesn’t always cover you to release your car from a pound. If it does, it will be clearly set out in your policy terms and conditions.

You may be able to add impound car insurance to your existing policy, but this will be at your insurer’s discretion.

If your provider won’t offer impounded car insurance as an add-on to your existing policy, you’ll need to arrange separate impounded car insurance.

How do I get my impounded car back?

You should receive notice of where your car is, the letter will also give you detailed instructions on what you need to do. Alternatively, if you don’t receive a letter, you can call the non-emergency police line 101 to find out.

If your car’s been seized because you haven’t paid car tax, you can call either 101 or NSL who enforce car tax payments, their telephone number is 0343 224 1999.

What should I do if my car’s been clamped?

If you return to find your car’s been clamped rather than taken away, an INF32 leaflet should have been left on your car. You’ll need to call the number on the leaflet and follow any instructions.

How much does it cost to release my car from the pound?

You’ll need to pay a release fee and if your car’s been in the pound for more than 24 hours, you’ll also need to pay a storage fee for each day it’s been there. Current fees are:

  • Release fee within 24 hours of offence: £100
  • Release fee after 24 hours from offence: £200
  • Storage fee per day: £21

If your car is untaxed and you don’t tax it before you release it, you’ll also need to pay a surety fee. Currently, this is £160 for motorcycles and cars but if you arrange car tax within 15 days, you can claim back your surety fee by calling NSL.

What documents should I bring to collect my car from the pound?

It’s a good idea to contact the pound your car’s in to confirm what documents you should bring but generally, you’ll need to show proof of:

  • Identity – this could be a photo driving licence, passport, EU identity card or immigration documents. If you live in London, you can also use your Freedom Pass as proof.
  • Car ownership – your car’s V5C logbook or the new keeper supplement (V5C/10) alongside proof of purchase.
  • MOT – if your car doesn’t have a current valid MOT certificate, you’ll need to show evidence of a pre-booked appointment. If not, then you’ll need to arrange for your car to be removed from the pound on a recovery truck.
  • Insurance – you’ll need a minimum of 30 days cover and proof that your policy covers you to remove your car from a pound.

Provisional driving licence holders

If you don’t have a full UK driving licence, you’ll need to bring someone who is over 21 years old. They must also have held a full driving licence for more than three years.

What happens if I don’t want to reclaim my car?

If you don’t want to retrieve your car from the pound, you can ‘disclaim’ it. If you do this, you won’t have to pay release or storage fees, but you will need to pay a disposal charge. This is currently £75 for cars and small vans or £50 for motorcycles.

You’ll also still need to go to the pound with proof of identity and proof that you own the car. You’ll be asked to sign a disclaimer, after which your car will be scrapped or sold at auction.

Can I remove my belongings from my impounded car?

Yes, you can take your belongings but leave (disclaim) the car. To do this, you’ll need to prove your identity and that you own the car.

Can someone else retrieve my car from the pound?

Where possible, the owner of the car should be the person to remove it. If that’s not possible, you can send someone else in your place. Your representative will still need to take all the relevant documents (for example, proof of identity, the V5C logbook, MOT and insurance). They will also need to take:

  • A signed letter of authority from you (the car’s owner) giving them the authority to collect your car.
  • A copy of your passport or driving licence so the pound can verify your signature.

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

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