Are you driving without cover by mistake?

Published:
26 February 2010
Topic:
News,Insurance,Car

When you think of an uninsured driver, you probably picture a cash-strapped teenager deliberately going without cover to save money. But could you be accidentally invalidating your own policy?

Driving without insurance doesn't just put you at risk of a fine, it can also leave you open to high costs and personal injury claims.

Most of us would never deliberately drive without insurance, but there are a number of ways people risk invalidating their cover, potentially without even realising it.

Here are some of the main ways you could be accidentally driving without valid insurance.

Not disclosed details?

Insurers look at a number of different factors when they're working out your premiums and any small detail - such as your job title or estimated miles - could be what places you in a lower band.

So, if you're suddenly driving more miles a year or change roles at work, you need to tell your insurer.

Otherwise, there's a chance your cover could be invalid.

Missed your MOT?

Unless your garage is particularly helpful, you won't receive a reminder that your MOT is due.

However, while there's no up-to-date MOT certificate, your car's insurance is not valid, so your insurer could refuse to pay out if you were involved in an incident.

Driving without a valid MOT is illegal, unless you're driving the car to its test, or to receive repairs once it's failed.

Said it's safer?

Car insurance premiums are rising rapidly, so it can be tempting to make your vehicle sound safer, even when it isn't.

Perhaps your garage is full but you've told your insurer the car is kept off the road? Maybe you've told your provider it's kept in a work car park during the day, when it's actually parked at the pub next door?

Research by Sainsbury's back in 2008 found that 1.12million people admitted knowingly giving an insurer false information, while 12.59million said they had guessed answers instead of checking.

Misrepresenting your vehicle's security might cut your premiums but it could leave you hanging if you have to make a claim because the car wasn't in the secure location it should have been.

Modified your motor?

Any modifications to your car have to be declared to your insurer.

Maybe you've added tinted windows or side skirts, or gone to extremes and had it fitted with sports suspension and a new exhaust system.

Whatever the work, it's important to notify your insurer, no matter how insignificant it seems to you.

Be warned, though, modifying your car could dramatically increase your premiums. It's worth finding out if you could afford to insure your modified vehicle before you book the work.

Kept quiet over penalty points?

If you receive points on your licence, it can be tempting to try and keep this quiet because it will almost always result in an increase to your premiums.

However, this will invalidate your insurance, so you need to let your provider know as soon as it happens.

Said it's a parent's policy?

New drivers, faced with insurance premiums running into thousands of pounds, might be tempted to ask a parent to insure the vehicle and add them as a named driver.

This is known as fronting and insurers are really clamping down on drivers who try to cut their costs this way, meaning many new motorists find themselves without insurance after they've been involved in a crash.

Worryingly, research by the Motor Insurer's Bureau and Aviva shows 35% of drivers believe fronting is a loophole in the law - when actually it could leave you without valid insurance.

Nigel Bartram, a spokesman for Aviva, said: "Well meaning parents may consider fronting an insurance policy to try and save money, but this is false economy as those that try to cheat the system by declaring false information will find that their insurance is invalid when they actually need to make a claim."

On the road on the job?

If your insurer believes that your car is only used for social and domestic driving, plus your commute, then you're not covered for driving on the job.

So, if you're routinely using your car to make deliveries, collect customers or any kind of work activity, you should let your provider know.

Legal ways to bring down your premiums

Steve Sweeney, moneysupermarket.com's head of car insurance, said: "You might be able to save some money by concealing certain facts from your car insurance provider, but there's really no point if you're invalidating your cover.

"If you're involved in an incident, there is enough stress without having to worry that your car insurance might not be valid, so don't take the risk."

The best way to bring down the cost of your car insurance without risking your policy is to shop around when it's time to renew and find a better deal. Compare car insurance policies and find the right cover at the best price.

Millions of drivers stay loyal to their existing provider and it costs them an average of £180 in missed savings every year. Watch our video 'Car insurance: How much is loyalty costing you?' to find out more.

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