Why your fully comp car insurance might cover less than you think

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Millions of drivers risk being caught out by misconception around how far cover extends

Millions of drivers could be knowingly or unknowingly breaking the law by driving other people’s cars without the correct insurance.

Research by a leading insurance comparison service found significant confusion around “driving other cars” (DoC) cover on standard insurance policies, with many motorists wrongly assuming their comprehensive policy automatically covered them.

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According to a survey by Confused.com, one in eight drivers wrongly thinks comprehensive insurance automatically includes cover for driving other vehicles and one in seven don’t know the basic requirements for obtaining DoC cover.

Driving without insurance, even if you think you are covered, carries a starting fine of £300 and, in some circumstances, police can seize the vehicle in question.

Being caught without insurance, even if you thought you were covered, carries serious penalties Being caught without insurance, even if you thought you were covered, carries serious penalties
Being caught without insurance, even if you thought you were covered, carries serious penalties | Shutterstock

Historically, DoC cover was generally included as standard with fully comprehensive policies but in more recent times many insurers have removed it completely or put stricter restrictions on who they offer it to.

According to Confused, in general, drivers will only qualify for DoC cover if they are over 25 and have fully comprehensive insurance and the other car they are driving is already insured. Even then, not all policies will include the cover and, in most instances the cover won’t extend to vans or other commercial vehicles.

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Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, said: “Insurers appreciate that there are some emergency situations where you may need to jump behind the wheel of a car you don’t own, which is why some offer driving other cars within their comprehensive policy. But being over 25 or having a comprehensive policy doesn’t automatically entitle you to this. This must be outlined in your policy, or you do risk the penalty.

“Driving without insurance is an offence that can be costly in fines but can also damage your record when it comes to applying for a new car insurance policy. Not only this, but you could risk having to pay to have your car released, which when you consider the fine as well, could end up costing you more than an insurance policy itself.”

It’s also worth noting that any DoC cover will only be for third-party damage, so will pay for repairs you cause to other vehicles but not the one you are driving.

Research by Confused.com also found a sharp rise in the number of drivers caught without insurance in the last year. More than 100,000 motorists were caught driving without insurance in 2020 - a 16 per cent increase on the previous year. And in the last two years, police have crushed 56,000 uninsured cars after owners failed to reclaim them.

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