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23 October 2019

Reclaiming an Impounded Vehicle

by James James

Reclaiming an impounded vehicle isn’t known to be a smooth operation, and without the right knowledge you may fail to get your vehicle back altogether. This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge of what to do in the event of your vehicle being impounded, how to get your vehicle back and ultimately whether you may need impounded car insurance or not based on your circumstances.

Why has my vehicle been impounded?

Your car, or other vehicle, may have been impounded for several reasons. These can include:

  • Driving without a driving licence
  • Driving without insurance
  • Parking illegally
  • Abandoning your vehicle
  • Holding an improper or expired registration
  • Outstanding parking fines or tickets

How does a vehicle get impounded?

The process of vehicle impoundment varies between each scenario and depends on certain factors, such as the reason behind the vehicle being impounded. It usually entails a tow truck collecting your vehicle and removing it. Towing companies are sent by the authority that requested the impoundment to take the vehicle to an impound lot, where it is then securely kept until the owner gets in touch. For example, if you have been found driving without insurance, the process of the vehicle impoundment would be:

  1. Police instruct a towing company to take the vehicle to an impound lot
  2. Owner of the vehicle is informed within seven working days (if they were not already present)
  3. The vehicle is kept securely until the registered owner makes the next move – it is a legal requirement to go to the pound within seven working days of the date on the seizure notice
  4. Owner brings correct documentation (outlined below) and the vehicle is released

Please note that every impoundment is different. A seizure notice will outline all relevant information.

How to reclaim an impounded vehicle

Unfortunately, whoever has impounded your vehicle is not going to make it easy for you to get it back in most cases. If you’ve realised that your vehicle has been impounded, it’s important to follow these steps in order to receive your vehicle as soon as possible.

Deal with the reason your vehicle was impounded

As the owner of the impounded vehicle, you are ultimately responsible for it, even if somebody else was driving it. If the vehicle was involved in criminal activity, the police may be holding it for evidence. If this is the case, get in touch with a lawyer to help. If you have outstanding tickets or parking fines, these will need to be paid off. Contact the police department and find out exactly what you need to do to recover the vehicle. This could be just how much you owe, but there may also be additional late charges or towing fees.

If your vehicle has been impounded because you have been driving it without insurance, you will need to purchase special impounded insurance and prove that you are now legally insured to drive the vehicle. As the owner, you will incur both a fine and a daily fee for the vehicle to be in the impound, so it’s important that you get this insurance as soon as possible. We work with impounded vehicle insurers who will be able to get your policy sorted. Whatever your budget, get a quote online for the best insurance for your situation.

If you’re unsure why your vehicle was impounded or where it’s been sent to, calling 101 will lead you in the right direction. In most cases, it should say on the seizure notice you receive where your vehicle is being held.

Which documents to bring with you to reclaim your vehicle

Sadly, you cannot simply turn up and get your vehicle back with no questions asked. There are various documents that are required to reclaim your vehicle. The police give seven working days for you to go to the pound before they will dispose of the vehicle. Different local councils have slightly differing policies, so it’s important that you know from these factors exactly how long you have before the pound will get rid of your vehicle. We recommend dealing with the situation right away to avoid high costs and your vehicle being disposed of. When you go the pound to reclaim your vehicle, you need to bring along the following documents:

  • Proof of identity with a valid photo ID: This means either a valid passport, driving licence, EU national identity card, immigration document or Freedom Pass
  • Proof of ownership: This means either the vehicle’s full logbook (V5C) or a new keeper supplement (V5C/10) with a verifiable and in-date bill of sale
  • MOT: A valid MOT certificate (depending on the age of the vehicle) or evidence of a pre-booked MOT appointment
  • Insurance certificate: A valid certificate of motor insurance that permits the release of an impounded vehicle. This can be an electronic copy on your mobile or a printed version that your insurer has emailed over. The certificate needs to declare all the relevant facts that you outlined to your insurer, like any motoring convictions, correct address, correct DOB and correct occupation. If you’re getting insurance after the vehicle was seized, you must inform the insurer about the incident. It is a serious offence to provide (or hide) certain information – don’t get caught out.

Can someone else get my vehicle out of impound?

As the registered owner, it is your responsibility to receive your vehicle. This means you should attend the police station or pound yourself, with documents proving ownership. There are only certain circumstances in which someone else can get your vehicle out of impound for you. These are:

  • If you can provide evidence that you’re out of the country, such as flight tickets
  • There are valid medical or compassionate circumstances that mean you cannot collect the vehicle yourself, such as immobility due to injury, disability or age

The person collecting the vehicle for you must carry certain documents for the vehicle to be released to them. This includes:

  • An authoritative letter which is signed by yourself, giving permission and authority to the person to collect on your behalf
  • A copy of YOUR passport or driving licence as proof of signature
  • THEIR driving licence: If the person in question will be driving your vehicle, they need to bring a valid driving licence
  • Proof that they’re an additional driver: The nominated driver should be named as an additional driver on your insurance policy

What if I don’t want my vehicle back?

This depends on the reason your vehicle was impounded. If your car was involved in illegal activity, you will need to formally ‘disclaim’ the vehicle and settle any charges you may have – the amount depends on the specific situation and if you have any ongoing tickets, etc. In other scenarios, no action is necessary, and police will dispose of the vehicle after 14-days. Instruction should be clear when you receive your notice of impoundment.

Impounded vehicle insurance

If your vehicle has been taken to the pound and you don’t have the appropriate valid car, motorcycle, or van insurance as mentioned, you will not be able to receive your vehicle. Most annual insurance covers don’t include impound insurance, so you may need to have specialist impounded vehicle insurance. Before you reclaim your vehicle, you will need to prove that you have a form of insurance cover for a minimum of 30 days. Many annual insurance companies will be apprehensive to cover you if your vehicle has been impounded as it is seen as high-risk. A temporary impounded vehicle insurance is therefore usually the best option. Unfortunately, this often comes at a higher price than general insurance. However, if your vehicle has been impounded due to it being driven with no insurance you will have no choice in this instance – unless you have no objections to your car being disposed of.

Here at Brightside, we work with expert insurance brokers who can provide immediate impounded vehicle insurance.

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