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Originally published March 15th 2016
There are different levels of cover available to you when buying car insurance, and the type you choose will determine whether or not you're covered to drive another car.
There are broadly three types of cover of offer to UK motorists – third party only, third party fire and theft (TPFT) and fully comprehensive.
- Third party only is the minimum level of cover required by law. It only covers the cost of damage caused to any third party vehicles or property – meaning it’s left to you to foot the bill for damage to your own car.
- Third party fire and theft offers the same level of cover as third party only, but will also pay out if your car is damaged or written off as a result of fire or theft.
- Fully comprehensive cover offers the assurances of third party fire and theft and will also pay out to repair any damage to your vehicle, even if you were at fault.
If you’ve got fully comprehensive car insurance you might assume this covers you to drive someone else's car with the same level of protection – it is ‘fully comprehensive’ after all.
The trouble is, each insurer has its own set of rules when it comes to the definition of 'fully comprehensive', meaning the level of cover can vary depending upon who you're insured with.
And the chances are your cover will actually drop down to third party only when driving another car.
You may even find your fully comprehensive policy doesn’t come with any cover for driving someone else’s car, in which case you could be breaking the law by getting behind the wheel of another vehicle.
So it’s vital you check your policy’s terms and conditions.
But even if you’re happy with the small print, you could get caught out if your insurer updates its policies – as one MoneySuperMarket customer found out the hard way…
We were contacted by a concerned MoneySuperMarket customer who assumed her fully comprehensive policy covered her to drive other cars, as per the terms and conditions set out in the policy booklet.
However, following an accident she had when driving another vehicle, the customer found she wasn’t actually covered – something that wasn’t spelled out in the policy documents, Instead, it was tucked away on page five of a ‘Renewal update leaflet’.
So make sure you check ALL correspondence from your insurer to ensure the cover you’ve got is the cover you need.
We rang around a number of insurers to get an idea of how cover for driving other vehicles can vary under the terms of fully comprehensive cover. Here’s what some of them had to say…
Although fully comp will usually cover to you to drive another vehicle, this is generally only on a third party basis - so if you prang your mate’s new motor you'll have to foot the repair bills yourself.
And even if your policy documents say you’re covered to drive other vehicles – third party or otherwise - make sure you check every bit of policy wording as cover can depend upon things such as your age, occupation and type of vehicle you’re driving.
Also bear in mind that this cover is basically provided for the emergency use of another vehicle. If you’ll regularly be using someone else’s car, it’s probably worthwhile getting yourself put down as a named driver on their policy.
A named driver is a someone who is insured to drive a vehicle in which another person does most of the driving. When driving that vehicle, the named driver will have the same level of cover as the main driver.