Number Plate News – Classics on SORN may have to be insured

A new ruling by the European Court of Justice means that Classic Car Owners may have to insure their cars even when they are being stored or repaired off the road.


The Department for Transport has launched a consultation following a ruling in favour of Damijan Vnuk, a Slovenian man who was injured when knocked off a ladder by a trailer attached to a tractor in a barn. It has set the European legal precedent that vehicles – including Classic Cars currently registered as SORN, Statutory Off Road Notification – need to be insured even when on private land. Andrew Jones MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport says he has serious misgivings about the rulings implications.

sorn leaflet   sorn website DVLA

Under the current system, classic owners don’t have to insure their car or pay road tax as SORN is registered with the DVLA. Changes to the law in 2013 meant that Historic Vehicles for which owners don’t pay road tax for – must be insured even when they are off the road. But unless the Government changes its interpretation of the Motor Insurance Directive then cars that are off the road and classed as SORN will have to be covered too.

Governments Options

Every vehicle on SORN must always have insurance in place. The Department for Transport believes that this is ‘onerous’ and actually goes beyond what the Vnuk judgement requires.

Any SORN vehicle which is used on private land must have insurance in place. This meets the requirements of the court case, but the government hasn’t stipulated what constitutes ‘use’.

Amending the EU’s Motor Insurance Directive altogether, meaning a vehicle would only need compulsory insurance if its used on land to which the public has access. If a classic on SORN is being used on public land the owner would be committing an offence, as is the case now.

The Department for Transport’s prefferred option, but potentially would require a new Act of Parliament to enact it.


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