Car insurance is a legal requirement that also offers you piece of mind. But there are certain mistakes you could make as the policyholder that could result in you driving without being covered. That's because there are several ways in which you can inadvertently invalidate your motor insurance. That not only puts you in financial peril, but could mean you are also breaking the law just by driving.
Here are some of the things to watch out for.
An insurance policy is made not only on the basis that everything you have said is true, but also that you have mentioned everything that could be relevant. Though it could be up to a court to rule on specific cases, the general principle is that the burden in on the customer to mention any "material facts". In effect, anything that could reasonably have changed the insurer's decision to offer cover or the price they would have charged. This can cover seemingly minor points such as the precise model of your car.
If you have customised your car since your last renewal, you may need to tell the insurer or risk invalidating the policy. If you are uncertain if you need to do this, ask yourself the following three questions: Do the changes potentially reduce safety?; Do the changes improve the performance of the car, particularly the speed (which can increase the chance of an accident or the likely damage if you crash)?; Do the changes make the car more attractive to thieves?
Fronting means falsely listing one person as the main driver and another person as a "named" additional driver in order to get a lower overall premium -- often because the second driver is a young person. This can be a grey area, so think about whether your chosen set-up is a reasonable reflection of reality. If a particular driver uses the car more frequently, more regularly, or over longer distances than the other driver, they should be classed as the main driver. If uncertain, check with your car insurance company.
Drink and drugs
If you drive while under the influence of drink or drugs, your policy will usually only be partially invalidated. Your insurer will still pay out for any damage caused to other drivers or vehicles while you are under the influence, but usually won't pay out for any damage you or your car suffers. Bear in mind also that this will significantly reduce the chances of you being able to renew the policy or get insured elsewhere at an affordable price.
Having a valid MOT (where applicable) is a mandatory condition of motor insurance. The moment you drive without an MOT, your policy is invalidated -- even if you don't have an accident until after getting the MOT. (Aside from insurance, it's now a legal requirement to have valid insurance at all times, even when not using the vehicle, unless you have filed a Statutory Off Road Notice.)
PLEASE NOTE: The guidance published in this article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation of any particular car insurance product or company. If you are in any doubt please consult an independent insurance adviser. A database of advisers in your area is available at www.unbiased.co.uk
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