What can invalidate your car insurance claims?
If you need to make a car insurance claim, the last thing you want is for your policy to be invalid – here’s how it can happen, and how you can avoid it
If you’re wondering what invalidates car insurance, there are a number of reasons – usually related to the information you’ve given to your insurer. For example, if you don’t tell your insurer that you use the car for business when you do or that you share it with another driver, you may find that your insurer will reject any claims you make on the policy.
What does it mean if your car insurance is invalidated?
If your car insurance has been invalidated, it means your policy is no longer active. You won’t be able to claim on your car insurance if it’s invalid, and you also won’t be allowed to use your car until it is insured again.
What happens if I drive with invalid insurance?
It’s illegal to drive on UK roads without at least third-party car insurance in place, and if you’re caught driving without valid cover, you could face:
A fixed penalty of £300
6 to 8 penalty points on your licence
However, your case may even go to court, which could lead to an unlimited fine – and could even see you disqualified from driving.
If you were in an accident and your insurer discovers incorrect information on your policy or believes you were driving dangerously, they will almost certainly refuse your claim and cancel your policy.
Will having a voided car insurance policy make it hard to get cover in the future?
If you’ve invalidated your policy, then you might struggle to find cover in the future. At the very least, you’ll likely need to pay more in premiums.
What invalidates car insurance claims?
It’s important to know what invalidates car insurance claims and to always be honest with your car insurance provider, so they can keep your policy up to date. They may refuse your claims or invalidate your policy if you aren’t truthful about any of the following:
Informing your insurer about an accident
If you’re involved in an accident with your vehicle, you must inform your insurer of all the details, even if you don’t want to make a claim. It’s vital to keep your insurer updated with everything that happens to your car so that they’re able to set your premiums accurately.
Withholding this information means that your insurer is likely to refuse claims you make in the future.
Providing the correct address
You might risk your car insurance policy being invalid if the permanent address you give to your insurer isn’t where your car is actually kept. For example, if you are a university student and you keep your car with you during term time, you should give your term-time address as your main address.
This can also happen if you have moved home and you don’t update your address details with your insurer.
Giving the right job title
Insurers factor in your occupation when setting your car insurance premiums. If you are dishonest about your job title, this can give your insurer a reason to void your policy and refuse a claim.
Using your car for business
Car insurance classes of use usually come in three categories – social, social and commuting, and business. If you only use your car for everyday things, like shopping or seeing other people, you’ll only need cover for social use.
However, if you commute to a single place of work as well as everyday usage, you’ll need the next level of cover. If you travel to multiple places of work or use your car in any way for business, you’ll need to take out business car insurance.
Having the wrong type of cover in place means you won’t be covered. For instance, if you commute to work but only have a social use policy, your policy will be void if you ever need to claim.
Inaccurately estimating your annual mileage
It’s also important to consider how many miles you’ll realistically drive over the year. If you underestimate your mileage, your insurer may not pay out for any claims, as your estimate will have made the insurer’s risk appear lower than it actually was.
However, if you overestimate, you could find yourself overpaying for your car insurance. So it’s good to be as accurate as you can.
If you’re taking your car abroad, you should ensure you have the right cover in place. Many fully comprehensive car insurance policies offer cover for driving in Europe as standard for a set number of days, but if you’re driving for longer than that, or in any other locations not specified on your policy, then you’ll need to take out specialist cover.
If you don’t, it’s likely you won’t be properly covered while you’re on the road, so any claims you make will likely be refused.
It’s common practice to add another ‘named’ driver to your car insurance policy. For example, you may be sharing a car with friends or family. Young drivers, in particular, benefit from this, as adding a more experienced named driver can show insurers you won’t be solely responsible for the car. Therefore, your insurer will often give you a cheaper deal.
However, remember to be honest about who you designate as the ‘main’ driver and the ‘named’ driver. Sometimes, parents may state that they are the main driver and their child is the named driver as a way to get cheaper premiums when the child is doing the bulk of the driving.
This is called ‘fronting’. It’s an illegal, fraudulent practice that can lead to a fine, points on your licence, and a criminal record.
Giving incorrect details about your car
You should also ensure that your insurance provider has all the correct details about your car, including any modifications that may have. Modifications can sometimes bring car insurance costs up, but it’s important not to lie about them as this will invalidate your policy, so you won’t be able to claim.
Likewise, if you swap your car or buy another, you’ll need to make sure that your provider stays up to date with what car they are covering.
It’s also important to properly maintain your car, as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to claim on your car insurance for damage resulting from poor maintenance. This means regularly changing fluids like oil and checking your tyre pressure.
Failing to keep documents up to date
If your driving licence, MOT, or vehicle tax expires and you don’t get them renewed, these will all cause your insurance policy to become invalid.
Driving under the influence
If you have an accident on the road as a result of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it might not automatically invalidate your car insurance policy – this will depend on your insurer. However, it will almost certainly mean you won’t be covered for any damage that occurs, so you’ll have to pay yourself.
Your car insurance premiums are also likely to be higher in the future.
Keeping your car secure
Insurers will expect a basic standard of security when it comes to looking after your car and its possessions. So if you need to claim for theft of belongings, you might find your cover invalid if:
You leave your possessions out in the open, especially valuables, where people can see
You leave your doors or windows unlocked or open
You leave your car keys visible, such as near a front door or window at home
What else invalidates car insurance?
Remember to always report incidents and keep your insurer informed. Insurers may also refuse your car insurance claims for the following:
While you need at least third-party cover to legally drive on public roads in the UK, even a fully comprehensive policy might not cover you on private property.
Leaving your car in the hands of a valet may also invalidate your cover, so you might not be able to claim for damage done to the car while they were driving it.
Driving with pets
It’s a legal requirement that pets are secured in the vehicle you are driving, so failing to meet this will likely mean that your insurer refuses a claim in the case of an accident.
Accepting money for giving lifts
Giving a lift to your friends might be pretty standard, but making money off of it drifts into business territory. Accepting payment for fuel is fine, but if you’re making a profit, you could face a fine and invalidate your cover.
Even something as simple as having something hanging from your rear view mirror that is adjudged to be blocking your view can void your car insurance policy.
The UK isn’t known for having plenty of natural disasters, but it’s worth keeping in mind that your policy is unlikely to provide cover for earthquake or tornado damage.
If you’ve packed too much luggage, or are seating too many people in your car, it’s likely you’ll invalidate your cover. Remember that all drivers are required by law to wear a seatbelt.
Other basic traffic rules
If you’re caught breaking traffic rules in an incident that you’re making a claim for, then your insurer will probably refuse your claim and invalidate your policy.
Lastly, if you don’t keep up with your car insurance premium payments, you’ll void your cover.
How can I find out if my car insurance is still valid?
Once you know what invalidates car insurance, you may want to take a final check that your policy is still valid for peace of mind. You can contact your insurance provider or head to the Motor Insurance Database[AR1] and enter your vehicle registration number to do so. This will let you know if your insurance is still valid, and if applicable, when it expires.
Will I get a refund if my car insurance is invalidated?
It’s unlikely you’ll have to pay any fees if your insurance provider invalidates your policy for breaking the rules. However, not all insurers will offer a refund or a partial refund based on your circumstances, even if you’ve paid a lump sum for the year. So, not only could you see a price increase when searching for insurance after yours is invalidated, but you could also lose a lot of money from your invalidated policy.
What should I do after my car insurance is invalidated?
As mentioned above, you could face a fine and points on your licence if you drive with no valid car insurance. Even if you are not driving the car, it’s essential to look for a new policy, as the Continuous Insurance Enforcement requires that your vehicle is insured all of the time.
You must give the details to your new insurance provider, as they will typically ask questions about your insurance history over the last five years.
Can I challenge invalidated car insurance?
If you think there’s been a mistake, or perhaps the reason is unfair, you can make a complaint to your insurance provider. This will often require you to give more details, particularly why you feel it has been wrongly invalidated, but it’s unlikely you will be met with a consensus if you have broken any of the above rules.
If this was a mistake, the cancellation will be rescinded, and it’s helpful to keep a note of written confirmation from your insurer. You won’t need to declare this in the future when shopping around for car insurance.
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