Policy Pitfalls – Are You Unknowingly Invalidating Your Car Insurance?

Gillian Cooper
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Car insurance rarely comes cheap...
No surprise, then, to learn that some motorists often get creative with the truth to try to secure a lower quote – from underestimating annual mileage to putting parents or partners down as the main driver instead. Far more costly, however, is the potential for insurers to refuse to pay out in the event of an accident if they suspect a policy-holder has supplied inaccurate information.

You could even be invalidating your policy without knowing. Few people realise, for example, that even minor bumps or small cosmetic scratches will necessitate a call to your insurance company. Even if you don’t intend to make a claim, notifying them will account for the damage should you be involved in a future, more serious, incident. If the damage is discovered later, and hasn’t been previously declared, the inconsistency could mean that claim is denied.

We’ve compiled some easy suggestions to help avoid such unexpected risks!

· As most animal owners are aware, unrestrained pets in your car can cause a distraction and near-miss at best, and severe accidents in the worst case. Ensuring that they’re suitably restrained – whether that’s in a specialist carrier, cage or behind a dog guard – won’t just ensure you remain covered for every eventuality, but could also see you avoid a costly £5,000 fine for breaching Rule 57 of the Highway Code.

· Consider the address you have on record. Certain areas of the country have higher theft and break-in rates and, as such, command higher insurance premiums. If you live in one of these places, don’t be tempted to falsify your main address just to save a few quid. A quick investigation by your insurance company could set the record straight and mean your cover is instantly invalidated.

· While a new job might feel fantastic, the knock-on effect on your cover could pose problems unless you take the time to let your insurer know. That’s because your profession is one of the main factors used to determine how much your premium will be – with some roles deemed more high-risk than others. Also, on the subject of work, make sure you include the daily commute in your cover if and when it’s required. A social-only policy covers drivers exclusively for leisure use, such as the weekly shopping trip or visiting friends.

· Making modifications to your car might be an enhancement, in your opinion, but in the risk-averse eyes of your provider the changes could well suggest greater risk of theft, or increased likelihood of an accident. Anything that isn’t classed as factory standard is deemed a modification, including something as innocuous as specialist paintwork, decals, a tow bar or alloy wheels. If you’re buying secondhand, refer back to the original spec for that model to make sure you know exactly what should be there and what’s an add-on. If you’re making the changes yourself, tell your insurers before taking the vehicle back out on the road.

· Finally, consider who you hand your keys over to. The scenario of an afternoon with friends devolving into drinks all round is not all that uncommon, and though you may not have intended to indulge, a teetotal companion offers to drive you home in your car. While her own policy may permit her to drive other people’s vehicles, be sure you’re not caught out by failing to realise that your own policy may not allow this.The devil is in the detail when it comes to letting friends or family members behind the wheel of your car. While they may indeed be legally insured to drive it, this may not necessarily cover any damage to the vehicle should they have an accident. More often than not, claims can only be made when the named driver was in the seat. Read the policy small print and, if you’re still not sure, call your provider to find out for definite.

Drive safe, and drive smart!


Brought to you by UniteProtect, who have launched a new car insurance comparison website for Unite members - www.UniteCar.co.uk



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