Getting personal could cost your dearly

Love them or hate them, nearly a quarter of a million private number plates were sold in the UK between 2013 and 2014 alone. But if you’re thinking about splashing-out on one, you should first consider the insurance implications.

Dave Morris with his MOD number plate
Dave Morris with his MOD number plate

Did you know that if your vehicle is stolen or written-off, then your private plate may be at risk. analysed over 200 comprehensive insurance policies and found that only 12 would cover the loss of a personalised number plate if the vehicle was lost or stolen, and only 10 insurers covered a financial loss of £5,000 or more.

If an insurance policy includes cover for personalised number plates and a claim is made for the cost of the vehicle, including the plate, then the insurer owns the vehicle that the registration number is assigned to, and therefore, owns the rights to the registration number. The claimant can buy the registration number back if the insurer is willing to sell it to the policyholder, or hasn’t already sold it on, for no more than the settlement price. If the vehicle has already been disposed of by the insurance company then all rights to the registration plate go with the vehicle.


If a vehicle with a personalised plate is stolen, its owner will have to wait 12 months to get the number plate back. They will also have to prove that the vehicle had a valid MOT and was taxed at the time of theft to reclaim the personalised plate.

If the vehicle has been written-off, the owner should contact the DVLA and the insurer to let them know that they want to keep the plate – the insurer will then write a letter of non-interest and send it to the DVLA. The registered keeper will have to pay a retention fee to keep the plate if they don’t have another vehicle to transfer it to. The registration transfer fees changed from March 9, 2015. The retention fee will be reduced to £80, while the fee for transfer will remain the same at £80. The period that a registration number can be retained for is also being changed from one, two or three years to 10 years; the annual retention fee of £25 will also be removed from March 9, 2015.

Those who have had their vehicle with a personalised number plate written-off have to work fast. If the vehicle is scrapped, the number plate dies with it. The registration number moves with the vehicle it is assigned to, not the person who may have bought the registration number.

Matt Oliver,’s insurance spokesman, said: “Personalising your pride and joy is a great idea, but if you have invested in a private number plate, you should consider whether you have got it properly insured. When you register a private plate to a vehicle, tell your insurer or your policy will be invalidated, but you also have to consider whether you have adequately covered the plate itself. Even though you may be buying a private number plate, it belongs to the vehicle, so whoever owns it owns the plate, whether that’s you, the insurer following a claim, or if it’s scrapped – the registration number remains with the vehicle.

Speak to your insurance company if you want to keep the cherished plate, telling them you want to keep it; make sure you get a letter of non-interest from your insurer as soon as possible, and apply immediately to the DVLA to retain or transfer the personalised number. Likewise, if the vehicle is stolen, you must make the insurance company aware that you wish to keep the personalised registration number should the vehicle be found after the claim has been settled. If the vehicle is not found you can apply to retain/transfer the registration number 12 months after the date of theft providing the insurance company has no interest in the registration number.”


Tony Wright and his mates have these plates on their scooters. They call themselves ‘The Three Muffketeers’
Tony Wright and his mates have these plates on their scooters. They call themselves ‘The Three Muffketeers’
Ross Gorman’s plate on his 2011 PX125 was a 50th birthday present from his girlfriend
Ross Gorman’s plate on his 2011 PX125 was a 50th birthday present from his girlfriend


Personal plates are also popular in Australia, where apparently you can have whatever you want; prices vary depending on combination. You never own the plate, but have the right to use it on the scooter for a one-off $180 dollar fee – which you have to pay again to transfer it to another vehicle. However, the actual metal plates normally have to be imported from the UK – and can cost more than the actual personal number!