Login Menu

What happens to my motorcycle insurance when I SORN my bike?


If you’re a motorcycle owner in the UK, you’re probably familiar with the term SORN. This guide gives you everything you need to know about how to SORN your bike and why you might be legally obliged to do so. It clarifies what information you will need to have before you apply, the legalities around SORN, and how it affects your tax and insurance costs. 

Understanding these details means you can make the right choices for you, and ensure that your motorcycle stays protected, even when it’s off the road. So, whether you’re embracing SORN for seasonal storage, or your bike is undergoing lengthy repairs, make sure you’re always on the right side of the law and find out all of your insurance options before you make your first move.

When do I need to SORN my bike?

SORN is a Statutory Off Road Notification, that you can use to notify the DVLA of any extended time periods where you won’t be using your bike on public roads. When you SORN your bike you won’t need to tax it, so it can be a good way to save money on expenses for a bike you aren’t currently using. A lot of UK bike owners will SORN their bikes in the winter months when there isn’t much opportunity or good weather to drive them in. 

When you SORN your bike you are declaring that your bike is ‘off road’, so you’ll need to keep it on private property like your own private land, garage or driveway. You won’t be able to drive or park it on public roads. And if you change your mind and want to drive it again, you will need to get it taxed and insured appropriately beforehand. 

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to SORN your bike. For example, you should do this if:

  • Your bike is not taxed.
  • Your bike is not insured – This applies even for short periods..
  • You know that you won’t be driving your bike for long periods of time. This could be for a number of reasons:
  • Your bike is being repaired or broken down for parts.
  • You won’t be driving in the winter months.
  • You are travelling without your bike.
  • You have a bike you are unable to drive.
  • You can’t drive for health reasons.
  • You are buying a bike that is currently SORN – this will need to be renewed in your name if you plan to keep it off road as SORN is not transferable.

To get the benefits of SORN the best move is to register it as off the road as soon as possible when these conditions arise. Not only can it help you save on expenses but it also keeps you on the right side of the DVLA and UK road laws. 

What happens when I SORN my bike?

As mentioned, one of the main advantages when you SORN your bike is saving on tax and potentially insurance expenses too. With tax, you will get an automatic refund for any of the remaining months of unused tax that you’ve already paid. This refund, (also known as a Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)), is issued to the address listed on your logbook so it’s important to double check it is correct before you SORN your bike. 

You’ll no longer be able to drive or park your bike on public roads. So although saving on tax sounds great, SORN might not be a good idea if you will be tempted to drive your bike again when the next spell of good weather appears. The only legally acceptable reason for driving a SORN vehicle on a public road is to take it to a pre-booked MOT or other vehicle testing appointment. And it will still need the correct road insurance for this.

Driving a SORN car on roads for any other reason could lead to prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500. So it’s important to weigh up the benefits of registering your bike as SORN with the reasons you are doing it.

Do I have to SORN my bike?

Depending on your situation you might be legally obligated to declare your motorbike as SORN. If your bike doesnt have valid tax or motorbike insurance, and you haven’t officially declared it as off the road, you could face an automatic fine from the DVLA.

Similarly, if you have bought a motorbike that was SORN by the previous owner, you will need to apply for SORN again in your own name as these don’t automatically transfer with ownership.

The DVLA carries out routine checks of the Motor Insurance Database (MID). And if your bike is not listed as insured on the MID and you haven’t declared it off the road with SORN, the DVLA can easily identify this discrepancy. 

Does SORN cancel my motorbike insurance?

Unlike your vehicle tax, SORN does not automatically cancel your motorbike insurance. If you have bought an annual insurance policy for your bike and want to cancel it you will need to get in touch with your insurer to do this. 

Do I get money back if I cancel my motorbike insurance?

If you plan to SORN your bike you might be hoping to get money back on any insurance cover that is no longer necessary. However, refunds or charges involved in cancelling or changing your insurance depend on your individual insurers and the terms of your policy. 

Be aware that comprehensive motorcycle insurance is typically sold as annual policies, so cancelling mid term may result in additional costs like cancellation fees. So depending on how much these charges are, it’s possible these costs could outweigh any potential savings you’re expecting to make by cancelling the remaining time on your policy.

It’s important to look over any terms and conditions of your insurance policy and speak to your insurance provider directly to understand the implications of cancelling. This way you can make an informed decision and won’t end up spending money that you were trying to save when declaring your bike as SORN. 

Get further guidance on how to cancel a vehicle insurance policy with our guide. This one focuses on car insurance, but the general principles of cancellation are applicable to motorbike insurance too.

Do I have to insure my SORN bike?

Once your motorcycle is registered as SORN, you are not legally obliged to have motorcycle insurance coverage as long as it remains off the road. However, even when you are not driving your bike on the roads, there are still certain risks that you might want to insure it for. 

Even if your bike is stored out of sight or in a locked garage it can still be damaged or destroyed in accidents like fires, or even stolen. There are insurance options that exclusively cover these needs without the additional road cover that standard bike insurance includes.

If your bike is damaged and you do not have insurance you will be left covering the costs of replacement or repair alone. So it is worth considering the following insurance options for your SORN bike:

  1. Fire and theft protection – Opting for this insurance rather than none means that your bike is covered specifically for any damage or loss caused by fire and theft. 
  1. SORN insurance – Some insurers offer specialised SORN insurance policies, which are tailored for motorbikes that are registered as off the road. This is also called ‘laid up’ insurance and typically covers your bike for fire and theft. 
  1. Short term bike insurance -If your motorbike is a summer hobby that you don’t use year round, short term insurance policies can be a good choice of coverage. These cover you to drive on roads on the months you need and will end when you don’t, so you dont risk having to pay cancellation fees. However, this can mean you still need another SORN insurance policy for when your bike is off road. 
  1. Annual bike insurance – If your riding habits and budget allow it, straightforward annual bike insurance is also an option. This gives you continuous coverage, including protection against fire and theft when your bike is SORN. You might feel like you are wasting the cover for the time your bike is not on the road, but with an alternative of cancellation fees and multiple insurance policies and premiums, comprehensive policies can still make the most sense for insurance coverage.
  1. Downgrading your policy – Some insurers offer the possibility of reducing your existing comprehensive motorbike coverage to third-party, fire and theft cover during the SORN period. However, this doesn’t always result in cost savings.
  1. Upgrading your policy – If you have SORN insurance but decide to get your bike back on the road later, you can check options for upgrading your policy to include road coverage with your SORN insurer.

It’s crucial to weigh the costs and benefits before making a decision on your bike insurance. 

The decision to keep your bike insured while it’s off the road ultimately rests with you, but it’s advisable to have a conversation with your insurer to explore your options and understand the implications of any changes or cancellations. If you risk driving uninsured the UK penalty is a fine up to £300 and 6 penalty points on your licence. 

Do I need to tell my insurer when I SORN my bike?

Your insurer will not automatically be informed when you SORN your bike so this is something you have to do yourself. It’s important to keep your insurer updated with any circumstances that cause a significant change to the level of risk your vehicle is exposed to, and this includes when it is registered as SORN. 

This is also a good idea in general as it gives you a chance to speak to your insurer about your coverage. You can find out any options you have for canceling or changing your level of insurance coverage now that your bike is SORN. 

Can I SORN my bike with V5C instead of my V11?

Yes, applying for SORN with your V5C (Vehicle Registration Certificate) involves the same steps as using your V11 (your tax payment reminder).

And if you notify the DVLA that your car is SORN using the V5C, it can take effect immediately. Whereas if you use the V11 tax reminder it takes effect from the first day of the following month. 

If you’re applying by post, you can include your desired start date on the form, as long as it is within two months of making your application.

Can I SORN my bike online?

Yes, you can do this by following these steps:

  1. Visit the GOV.UK website to register your vehicle as off the road (SORN) 
  1. Have the necessary information to hand, like the 16 digit number from your vehicle tax reminder letter or the 11 digit number from your V5C (log book). 
  1. Complete the SORN declaration making sure that all the information is accurate.
  1. After submitting the application, you should receive instant confirmation from the DVLA that your SORN has been processed and when it will take effect.
  1. Depending on your circumstances your SORN will begin at different times. If your vehicle tax has already expired, or the month you are applying is not the month your tax expires, your SORN will begin immediately. But if you are applying on the month your tax expires, it will start on the first day of the following month. 
  1. Make sure to keep your SORN confirmation and any related documents for your records.

You can also apply for SORN through the DVLA by phone or by post. To SORN your car by post you’ll need a V890 form which you can download from GOV.UK or collect it from a post office. 

How can I check if my bike is SORN?

The easiest way to find out if your bike is SORN is to enter your vehicle registration number and check through the GOV.UK website. If you have just declared your bike as SORN, it can take a minimum of five days for this to show up in your bike’s records. 

If you have previously SORN your bike, dont worry about it running out or having to renew it. Once a vehicle is SORN, this status will run indefinitely and will automatically stop when you start to pay tax on your bike again.

Do I have to pay to SORN my bike?

Declaring your vehicle as off the road with SORN is completely free through the DVLA. If you choose to send your SORN application by mail, you’ll only need to cover the postage expenses. 

This is important to know so that you can avoid any website that claims they can do this for a fee. To avoid this go directly to GOV.UK

How do I un SORN my bike?

Simply tax your bike again. Once you renew your tax, it will automatically be considered to be un SORN. Just remember that you will also need to make sure you have the appropriate motorcycle insurance before driving. 

Make informed choices and keep your bike safeguarded throughout your journeys. If you want to ensure your motorcycle stays protected, whether it’s on or off the road, compare motorcycle insurance options, including temporary coverage, at quotezone.co.uk.

This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes

Compare Motorbike Insurance

We search up to 20 motorbike insurance providers to save you time and money