Making a SORN during the COVID-19 outbreak

Making a SORN during the COVID-19 outbreak

The information contained in this bulletin is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general risk management and insurance information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such. If you wish to discuss your specific requirements, please do not hesitate to contact your usual Towergate Insurance Brokers advisor.

If you are considering, or by necessity are, taking vehicles off the road you must be completely certain the vehicles will not be driven. If you decide that formally laying up a vehicle is necessary, the vehicle must first be subject to a ‘Statutory Off Road Notification’ (SORN) 

There may be requirements from your Insurer in terms of precautions you need to take when taking a vehicle off the road and you should always advise and consult with your insurance broker. The points below are considered general precautions and will need to be considered and tailored to suit your fleet size, type of vehicles and premises.

Site security

Site security will be vitally important, especially if your premises is unoccupied at any time.

  • Perimeter Protection – ensure your fencing and gates are in good condition, without any gaps, damaged posts, etc
  • If you have CCTV and security alarms, ensure these and any associated detectors, speakers, recording devices and communication equipment are fully functioning
  • If your alarm and CCTV benefit from remote monitoring, you should ensure that the receiving company are fully operational and they are aware of any changes in your operation
  • Consider, subject to Government guidelines, site inspections – walking the fence, checking detectors, etc
  • Ensure your response to any issues, both short term; are responder details correct, have responders been furloughed, police response in place, fire safety plans/brigade response, etc. and longer term; repairs to fencing, etc. have been reviewed, are robust and are practical.

Accumulation Risk

Even with the best security in place, insurers will be concerned about a large number of vehicles stored in the same yard. General precautions should include;

  • Do you have multiple locations? If so, can the vehicles be spread between all premises?
  • There should be enough space between parked vehicles to serve as a firebreak
  • Combustible material should be removed from site and build ups prevented
  • No hot works undertaken or strict compliance with a Hot Work Permit – including fire watch
  • Key security – consider where will the keys be kept, how they will be secured and monitored
  • Additional physical barriers – concrete blocks, etc (being mindful not to obstruct emergency vehicles)


There are a few considerations for how you will leave the vehicles as well – you should consult with the manufacturer to ensure they are appropriate for your vehicle type.

  • Ideally clean (stops undue corrosion, etc)
  • Remove loads
  • If you leave the fuel tank full it will reduce the potential for corrosion or if you leave empty/low in the event of theft the vehicle can’t be driven far
  • Leave the parking brake on, although if possible while observing social distancing guidance, roll the car backwards and forwards a few meters every week/10 days, to avoid the brakes seizing.
  • Utilise chocks
  • Ensure tyres inflated to avoid flat spots – consider rotating each week?
  • Keeping batteries in means you can drive the vehicle for short periods (not whilst SORN’d) to keep everything moving, charged, etc. Alternatively, you could take them out to minimise the risk of theft, however this could raise various issues such as alarm failures, fault codes being generated, issues with HGV tachographs, etc. Therefore, we would recommend you consult your vehicle handbook and/or your vehicle dealer or garage to get appropriate advice.
  • If your advice is to keep the battery attached, you should consider how to keep it maintained. If the location allows it, you could connect the battery to a trickle charger to maintain a constant stream of charge. If this is not possible, you should start the engine every week and let in run for 20-30 minutes, to give the battery chance to charge.

Returning to the Road

When you are back up and running, some of the considerations should be;

  • Ensure appropriate insurance, MOT and vehicle tax are in place (unSORN)
  • Provide a mini-service or equivalent of 6-week safety check
  • Are your Statutory inspections for tail lifts in date? The HSE has issued a guidance note for duty-holders and inspectors carrying out thorough examinations of lifting and pressure equipment during the Coronavirus outbreak.
  • Complete daily inspection and ensure all safety features, lights, etc are functional
  • Check for any evidence of pests/rodents and look for chewed belts, hoses and wires
  • Check all fluid levels before you start the engine to make sure there have been no leaks and that they are at the recommended levels
  • If the battery cable has been disconnected following advice, make sure that you reconnect it and that the battery terminals are clean
  • Check the windscreen wipers to see if the rubber is cracked or brittle
  • Check the tyre pressures and inflate to the recommended specification
  • Check the brakes as rust may have built up, which, in most cases, should go away after you drive the vehicle for a short time
  • Wash the vehicle to remove any dirt that may have accumulated.


For more information or for a full review of your insurance needs, please continue to contact your usual Towergate Insurance Brokers adviser or email