Personal number plates have been growing in popularity over the last 20 years or so, and have proved to be a nice earner for the DVLA, which sells them. But drivers are being warned that they could lose their personal reg if their car is stolen and then written off.
GoCompare noted that the DVLA reportedly sold almost 375,000 plates in 2016/17. But the comparison site warned that drivers tempted to buy these plates need to consider whether they will be covered by their insurance.
GoCompare analysed 302 comprehensive car insurance policies and found that just 19 specifically cover the loss of a personalised plate if the car is lost or stolen. Of those providing cover, the actual sum insured varied widely from just £200 up to unlimited cover. GoCompare revealed that 16 insurers cover a financial loss of £5,000 or more.
As some plates can cost well over £25,000 that would leave the vehicle owner significantly out of pocket.
If the vehicle is written off, motorists will have to arrange for the number to be transferred to another vehicle or retained on a certificate before the claim is settled. As registration numbers move with the vehicle they are assigned to, rather than the person who bought it, if the vehicle is written off and the car scrapped the number plate can disappear with it.
Policyholders will need to contact the DVLA and the insurer to explain that they want to keep the plate, with the insurer then required to write a letter of non-interest to the DVLA. If there is no vehicle to transfer the plate to, the motorist will have to pay a retention fee. It is a convoluted system, which favours the DVLA, who effectively get to keep legal control on any use of personal number plate – even after you’ve bought it.
Matt Oliver from GoCompare Car Insurance said: “When you register a personalised plate to a vehicle you need to tell your insurer immediately, otherwise your policy could be invalidated and, particularly if you’ve paid a lot for a registration number, you should consider whether it’s properly insured.”