Do Personal Number Plates Affect Car Insurance?

antoine fruchard Antoine Fruchard  updated on July 24, 2020

The car you drive says a lot about your personality. 

So, why not go all the way and get a personalised number plate rather than a boring old set of random numbers?

But, before you go and spend a pretty packet on a private number plate you need to know how it affects your car insurance cover and what steps you must take to protect yourself.

In this article we take an in-depth look at how the number plate system works, their potential impact on your car insurance and how you could potentially save money by keeping your insurance provider informed.

What are personalised number plates?

Every vehicle in the UK must have a unique registration number displayed clearly at the front and back of the vehicle. 

A personalised or private plate lets you add your own touch such as your initials, date of birth or job description to an otherwise boring set of numbers and letters. 

For example, you might prefer to have a number plate that reads, ‘BO55 MAN’ rather than ‘AB 55 XYZ’.

How to buy personalised reg plates?

You can buy personal plates from whoever is selling them, as long as they come with the right documentation.

The DVLA has a large database of cheap personal number plates available for sale on their website. You can also perform a search for the letters or numbers you would like to appear on your reg plate and they will provide you with a list of available licence plate numbers that are similar along with the price for each.

We recommend buying DVLA number plates because it saves you from paying the extra charges applied by third party vendors on top of the plate costs.

Also, if your vehicle is ever stolen and you want to transfer the number plates to another vehicle, the process would be a lot easier if you had bought DVLA private plates directly from the DVLA because you wouldn’t need additional documents, permissions or proof.

How much do personalised number plates cost?

If you’re looking to customise your plates you need to cough up the cash. A custom plate could cost you anywhere between £250 to a few £100,000s depending on the number you want. The record for the highest ever amount paid for a personalised plate is a little under £520,000!

One way to get a good idea of the cost of personal car plates is to perform a dvla reg check on their website with the numbers or letters you would like to include. A quick number plate check in their website will also allow you to see how much is a personalised number plate.

There are many sellers of cheap custom number plates. Be wary of fraudsters and always insist on all the necessary paperwork.

How do I register a personalised number plate?

The following two documents are absolutely essential to have if you want to register a new personalised number plate or transfer an already existing one:

V750 – Also known as Certificate of Entitlement which you would need in order to register a new personal number.

or

V778 – Is a Certificate of Retention which allows you to retain and transfer a personal licence number to another vehicle.

Once you have either of these certificates you need to officially transfer the new or existing registration number to the vehicle that it is intended for. This can be done via the government website or via post. You will need your car’s VC5 (log book) to do this. Once the DVLA receives the documents, the transfer usually happens instantaneously so make sure you have your new number plates printed and ready.

The next important step is to inform your insurer to see if there is any possible coverage you can take out for your cherished number plate.

Does having a personal car plate affect my car insurance?

As you may be aware, insurance companies generally don’t like modifications.

Some insurers might even invalidate your policy for making certain types of modifications to your car, so it is fair to assume that having a personalised number plate might arouse suspicion. 

Fortunately, most insurance companies do not consider private reg plates as a physical modification leaving the price of your policy untouched. 

But, this does not necessarily apply to all insurers. Some may consider the fact that your vehicle appears more attractive to thieves and vandals whereas others believe the opposite as stolen cars with a personalised registration are easier to identify.

We found that from over 300 comprehensive car insurance policies available in the UK only a handful of them offer specific coverage for lost or stolen personalised plates. The amount of coverage offered for this could be anywhere between £200 and £5000 and in some cases, unlimited.

If you’ve spent a considerable amount of money to acquire a personalised number plate, you would obviously want to find a way to ensure that your car insurance policy covers this cost as well.

Use our online comparison tool to find and compare the best deals on car insurance from companies that provide personalised number plate loss.

Why do I need to inform my insurer if I want to change my number plate?

A registration number is assigned to a vehicle and not to the person who bought it.

Changing your vehicle’s registration number without informing your insurer could simply mean invalidation of your policy causing you to suffer crippling losses if your car is stolen.

Here are a few reasons why you should keep your insurer informed of changes to your registration number:

  • Prove Your Ownership: If you make any changes to your vehicle’s registration number, you must prove that this was done legally and that you are still the rightful owner of the car. Informing your insurer will save you the trouble of having to prove your ownership of a stolen vehicle.
  • Safeguard Your Claim: In the event that your car is stolen and cannot be found, you might need to file a claim for it’s full value. Your insurance provider will then pay you a lump-sum amount equal to the value of your car. In paying you this sum, the insurer technically transfers the ownership of the vehicle, including personal registration plates and all the accessories to themselves. If your policy covers loss of personal car number plates, you could recover the cost of that as well in your claim. But you are likely to lose ownership of your private reg plate in this case. 
  • Keep Your Personalised Registration Number: If your stolen car cannot be found, you may want to keep your beloved personal car registration plates or have it transferred to another vehicle in the future. Even in this case you would need to inform your insurance provider and get a letter from them explicitly mentioning that they have no interest in the registration plates.

Does my car insurance cover custom number plates if my vehicle is stolen?

If you’ve spent a small fortune on custom number plates, you’d want to protect them.

It’s an intriguing fact that in spite of such a large variety of car insurance policies available very few offer coverage for personal licence plates. And even if they do provide this type of cover you won’t find them advertising it. But there’s no harm in asking.

Often, if you’ve been loyal to an insurer for a number of years and have a nice, clean no claims history to your credit, you might be able to get them to offer you certain types of cover based on your requirements. 

If your insurer does not under any circumstances cover loss of custom registration plates, it is still imperative that you inform them of your intention to change your plates and retain ownership of them in case of total loss of theft of your car. Make sure you get a letter from them which states that they have no interest in owning or keeping the personalised number plate even if a full claim is made on the vehicle. This way, your investment stays protected if your car disappears from the face of the earth because you can retain the same number and transfer it to another vehicle or even sell it if you need to. 

Do insurance companies charge for change of number plate?

Normally your insurance provider should not charge for change of number plate.

According to most insurers, a change of number plate does not count as a modification to your car. So ideally they should not be charging extra, but each provider operates differently so don’t take this for granted. 

Always check with your insurance provider to know for sure if they provide cover for your personalised number plates as part of your package. If they do, and your reg number is rare and expensive, they will most likely charge a premium on the value of the number plate to be able to cover the cost if it is stolen. If not, there will most likely be no fees or additional charges. 

In general, your personalised registration plate has very little impact on the cost of your insurance, especially if it’s a cheap private plate. There are other factors such as the value of your car and your address that play a more important role in determining the cost of your insurance policy. 

How does the number plate system work?

The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) is the UK government organisation responsible for registering and maintaining a database of all cars in the United Kingdom. 

Naturally, they have their own, registration format to be able to give every car in the UK a unique identification number. While the format has changed over the years, the current format is 2 letters and 2 numbers followed by 3 letters. 

The first two letters, known as the DVLA Memory Tag, identify the location where the vehicle was registered. The two numbers are the ‘Age Identifier’, representing the year when the vehicle was registered. And the last three digits are randomly generated. 

For example, the number plate BA19 ABC is a vehicle registered in Birmingham, in March 2019. The DVLA website provides a complete list of memory tag and age identified codes available in the UK.

Older number plates use a different registration format

Number plates registered during 1983-2001 showed the age first, followed by a unique series of three digits specific to that vehicle, then the three-letter local memory tag. Such as B123 ABC.

While an ‘A’ registration applies to a vehicle was sold new in August 1983, a ‘B’ registration means that it was sold new in August 1984 and so on. 

Even older number plates registered during 1963-82 have the age identifier at the end of the number plate.  So you’d have the three-letter regional identity, the vehicle’s unique three-digit number, then the age letter. For example, ABC 123A.

For vehicles registered between 1963 and 1982,  ‘A’ registration means the vehicle was sold new in January 1963, ‘B’ if it was sold new in January 1964, and so on.

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