Policy holder, registered keeper and legal owner of vehicle

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If you're shopping around for car insurance, you are more likely to come across questions asking whether you are the registered keeper of the car you want to insure and whether you are going to be the policy holder as well. Therefore before you can fill out the insurance application form as accurately as possible, you will need to understand properly the terminology that is being used.

Who is the policy holder?

The policy holder is the main driver of the vehicle and is the person who will be using the car more often. If there are additional drivers, they will become named drivers on the car insurance policy and will be legally entitled to drive the car with the same insurance protection as the main driver (named drivers should use the car less frequently than the main driver though).

Who is the registered keeper?

The registered keeper is the person whose name appears on Section 5 of the Registration Certificate of the vehicle (also called the log book, V5C). That person is responsible for taxing the vehicle, doing the MOT and maintaining it in good condition. Traffic violations like parking tickets and speeding fines will be sent to the registered keeper as well.

Who is the legal owner?

The legal owner is the owner of the car, that is, the person who has a legally enforceable claim to the car. That person has the right to sell the vehicle while the registered keeper is not in a position to do that (if registered keeper and owner are different that is).

Most of the time, the legal owner and the registered keeper will be the same person. However in cases where a car is leased, then the legal owner will normally be the company and the registered keeper the employee who uses the car. Another example is when a father buys a car for the son to use - the father may want to retain all rights to the car but give the responsibility of day to day running to the son.

How does it affect car insurance

Most car insurance companies will insist that the policy holder be the registered keeper to keep things simple and will not quote for cases where these are different. By law, the policy holder does not need to be the registered keeper but you will be narrowing your choices of insurers if you are in this situation. This is mostly to do with the fact that many experienced drivers used to put down their name as the policyholder while a younger driver would be the registered keeper so that they can get cheaper car insurance. Of course insurers have thus cracked down on this approach because it's fronting and have therefore insisted for both policy holder and keeper to be the same.

gices Level 6
I'm a Software Developer and the co-founder of Clever Dodo. Born in Mauritius and now living in the UK, I usually blog about fitness, music, spirituality and driving topics to pass on my knowledge.

26 Replies

shonas91 Level 1

Hi, probably a bit of a random question, my parents bought me a car for my 22nd, i took the v5 and changed all the details so that i was the registered owner and keeper of the vehicle, had problems from day one with the car, so i traded it in for a better newer car, but how do i really explain this to my parents as they are controlling even though im almost 25

janinaherrmann Level 1

Hi I am in a stressful situation question
Is it possible to be a vehicle owner of a UK reg car if my main living address is out side the UK and a family member is only driving it in the UK many thanks for any advice

tonywalker Level 1

Hi my partner is getting a car on finance and due to her having no no - claims it works out over 300 a year cheaper if I insure it and have me as legal owner aswell. Is this legal for me to get her to sign the log book over to me and basically own the car? You see Nissan have her down on the purchase agreement as owner or does that not matter. Thanks in advance

debbiehopkinson Level 1

My husbands dad brought him his first car. His insurance and log book is registered 400 miles away and his license is registered here is this legal? They have said it is. But im panicing. He hasnt got his full license yet only or provisional im teaching him but ill be liable aswell if it is wrong so i want to check?

rachelwilliams Level 1

Can I put my car in my son's name with me still insuring it in my name and paying for.the tax in my name.....I have bailiffs threatening to clamp it and have to keep parking it streets away but if it's in his name they can't touch it

jackarmy87 Level 1

Hi my mother is the principle policy holder and I am a vehicle policy holder on our insurance documents. Both her car and my car are registered in her name, our renewal is coming up and my mother will me transferring my car into my name so I will be the registered keeper of the cat also I will be going onto my own policy as I am moving house. My question is will I take my no claims discount with me? On the documents it says that I am the vehicle policy holder and that I have 7 year ncd and it says that the ncd is owned by me. I was just wondering if I could come into any problems with this as I'm not currently the registered keeper of the car and I am not the principle policy holder. Thanks

anonymous_2 Level 1

My mother (54) who has a provisional license is wanting to buy me (her son, 22 about to pass my test, (first time driver)) a car as we need one for her new business, so she would be the owner of the car! we are first time buyers and don't know who's name it should be registered in! my mother has no intention of driving the car so would she need to be insured on the car?

I have yet to pass my test so in the meantime we are wanting to put my partner (25 who has driven over 7 years) on the car until I can drive but with me also insured so I can do lessons till I pass etc

Should both myself and my partner be put on the insurance? and should I be the registered keeper? and should me or my partner be a named driver?

gices Level 6

It's probably better to register the car in your partner's name and list you as a named driver on the car insurance policy.

shellywilliams Level 1

I was buying a car off my son-in-law. I've paid for the mot and paying for the tax the insurance is in my name. I've payed 1 payment for the car so far. The logbook is still in his name because it's got private plates on it and was getting sorted out when they came back from holiday.
I was in a crash in the car which has now been wrote off.
Who should get the payout for the car from the insurance.
Please help

sarahjack Level 1

I finance a car on HP. My husband name is on the log book. We have separated and he has taken the car. Does he have a right? and can i get the car back?

davidquinn Level 1

If the policy holder and registered keeper are different people and they have to make a non fault claim, which person has to declare this when applying for insurance in the future?

abbzmay Level 1

My partner is looking at insuring his motorbike again, however the insurance company have told him he is unable to do so because his money goes into my bank and he doesn't have a bank account. This has never been a problem in the past-he's never had a bank, always done it through his dads. It isn't fraud as i will obviously consent. Why it is such an issue, what can we do?

marion Level 1

if i buy a car on finance, can someone else be the registered keeper.
i am planning to buy a car on finance for my daughter.i will pay the finance she will insure it.

valeriekingdom Level 1

I leased a car in my name for my parents to drive. Do I insure the car in my name and put them as additional driver's on my policy or can they insure the car?

skellington1982 Level 1

wife as she couldn't get the credit. The v5 is in my name and I have been paying the finance on the vehicle and my wife pays the insurance. We have split up and wanted to know who legally owns the car as we had an agreement to give the car back when our house sold but think she might refuse to do so. Am I able to take the car and hand it back to the garage to clear the finance in my name if she refuses to give me it back?

skellington1982 Level 1

I purchased a car on finance for my wife as she couldn't get the credit. The v5 is in my name and I have been paying the finance on the vehicle and my wife pays the insurance. We have split up and wanted to know who legally owns the car as we had an agreement to give the car back when our house sold but think she might refuse to do so. Am I able to take the car and hand it back to the garage to clear the finance in my name if she refuses to give me it back?

jaynehall Level 1

i bought my husband a car in april 2013 for nearly 13k i paid cash and as i failed my driving test, he persuaded me to put his name on the log book even though i wanted my name on it, anyway im on the insurance, i can proof purchase as i have the bank statements and the receipts and my debit card number and both our names on the receipt from the car showroom, anyway, we are getting divorced and he has turned nasty saying he can legally sell it to stop me making aclaim for it in the divorce i have all the paperwork and log book here in my house but its in his name he is registered keeper bu i bought it do i have any chance of getting it back please?

leewiddrington Level 1

I purchased a car on finance 7 months ago and never received log book. Now car has no tax which I can't get as I'm not registered keeper or owner of car. Have the finance company breached the contract?

allanbriggs Level 1

My daughter is given me her car do I need the log book to tax and insure it

emmapelly Level 1

My husband owns his own company - he is majority shareholder. His car was brought and paid for by the company - which is down as the registered keeper on the DVLA V5C form and the company pays for all running costs (excluding fuel). My question relates to the car insurance (again paid for by the company). My husband is listed as the policy holder with myself as a named driver. The insurance company have been told about the fact that the company owns the car. They seem to be okay with that situation, but my husband believes that the company should be down as the policy holder with himself and myself as named drivers on the policy. Which is correct? Thank you in advance. EmmaP

nldillon Level 1

My partner bought a car, he put me as he registered keeper (log book) and I am the main insurer, he is a named driver. I used to drive the car quiet frequently as we have a new baby, we have recently split up and he has taken the car off me. I want to cancel the insurance as it is in my name and if something goes wrong I don't want to be responsible, we don't have a lot of contact, can I cancel the insurance and not tell him? Is it his responsibly to make sure he's insured when he drives the car or is it mine?

carriehomewood Level 1

my husband (seperated but not divorced)bought a car on finance,the finance is in his name and address but my name is on the log book not his (because he cant drive)i pay the insurance tax and moy so the car is with me 24/7,he has told me my insurance is invalid bcoz the finance is in a different address to where the car is kept is this true

anonymous_2 Level 1

I am the registered keeper of my car, but my now ex-partner is the name on the insurance policy and I am a named driver we are no longer together can I become the main name on the policy?

gices Level 6

Course you can, you just need to contact your insurer.

anonymous_2 Level 1

Me and my wife bought a car on finance which is now paid. The payments for the car was made from my wife's bank but it was me who put the money in the bank from my wages. The logbook for the car is in my name but now we have split up and she as given the car to her new boyfriend. Have I got any legal rights to stop him from driving the car or taking the car back as I am the registered keeper?

With thanks, hope someone can help me on this matter.

gices Level 6

Since you have been putting money in your wife's bank account to pay for the car finance, it will seem that she has been paying it instead of you. As the registered keeper, you do not have any legal rights on the car and you should consider taking your name off it because any speeding tickets/parking fines incurred by whoever is driving the car at the moment, will be sent to you.

If you can prove that you've been putting money in the bank for the purpose of paying the car finance, then you will stand a ground to win back the car but you will have to show proof that you've been putting money regularly (every month perhaps and a fixed sum to cover the loan payments). You should seek professional advice on this matter though.

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