25 August 2010 by Parkers Team

  • The small details that could invalidate your insurance
  • From modifying your car to misrepresentation
  • You could quickly end up without valid insurance

Many people buy a new insurance policy and only briefly scan the terms and conditions. They then might assume that they’re cleared to drive their car, their neighbour’s car or even their wife’s car.

In many instances, unfortunately, this isn’t the case and it's all too easy to end up in a situation where your insurance is invalidated and you’re facing a hefty bill, penalty or worse.

So, what can invalidate your insurance?

Misrepresentation

This is the most common way of invalidating an insurance policy. It is when you inform the insurers of something that isn't true, be it that you park on the street and not in a garage as claimed, or giving incorrect details about your car.

Switching your job can also cause issues, as various jobs have different risks and consequently more expensive policies. You can also invalidate a policy if you don't report an accident that could result in someone making a claim - even if you've settled it yourself.

Fronting

As insurance is so high for young drivers 'fronting' is becoming increasingly common. This is where the parent insures their child's car in their own name and adds the child as a named driver. This process is fraudulent as the insurers have been misled and the policy will not have been priced according to the risk.

If you are caught then the insurer can cancel the policy or charge the extra premium as a lump sum. They can also refuse to pay out for any accidents that have occurred, which can lead to the younger driver being classed as uninsured and receiving a ban and a fine.

Exceeding your mileage limitations?

In the majority of cases it's not an issue if you exceed your mileage limitation - a simple phone call usually sorts it out. If you are involved in an accident though, and haven't declared the additional mileage, some insurers could deny the claim.

Modifying your car

Insurers charge higher premiums for modified cars, so not informing them of any changes to your car can be tempting, after all what's the worst that could happen?

If you don't inform them it can make a claim much more difficult and sometimes even void your policy. Even if you only do something minor like changing badges, insurers potentially have reason to invalidate your policy as the risk has changed.

Driving without a valid MOT

Driving without an MOT won't always make your insurance invalid. In most instances the insurers will still pay out in full - and if your car is stolen, or damaged, the payout will usually only be reduced to reflect the value of the car without a current MOT.

However, some policies state in the small print that an MOT must be in force. Only in instances where the vehicle has a fault which contributed to, or caused the accident, can the claim be rejected. Driving without an MOT does carry a potentially hefty fine though.

Driving without current tax disc

If a car has no road tax then insurers are still obliged to pay out for all claims. Despite committing an offence by not having tax, this is irrelevant to the accident and the insurer. A car can legally be on the road without tax if it's going to a pre-booked MOT test - during which the insurance is not invalidated.

Driving without a valid licence

If you drive your car without a valid or current licence then your insurance will be void. Likewise you can also invalidate a policy if you drive unattended on a provisional licence - as all policies carry a condition that state you must be supervised by a fully qualified driver.

Leaving your car unlocked

Almost all policies include a clause that will exclude cover if the keys are left in the vehicle, or if it is left unlocked and unattended. You may think that it's rare to leave your car unlocked or with the keys in it - but have you ever left it outside running to defrost during winter?

Driving without appropriate glasses

Drivers who need to wear glasses can invalidate their policy by driving without them - as you won't meet the requirements for your driving license.

Driving your own car abroad

Every policy in the UK will offer some degree of cover that allows you to drive in Europe - but the majority offered is third party only.

It's best to contact your insurer before you leave and tell them the details of your trip. They will then be able to tell you what level of cover you have and whether they can extend it to more comprehensive levels.

Driving your car on a track

Most policies exclude cover for motorsport or track use - including places such as the Nurburgring. Insurers usually put in clauses that prevent them from paying out any damages. They may still cover any third party involved - but you could end up footing the whole bill.

Driving with the wrong, or illegal tyres

By retrofitting a car, that came standard with run-flat tires with normal tyres, you can invalidate some policies as insurers see it as a modification. In most instances it's simply a case of telling them the change has been made. Fitting tyres that have a lower speed rating can also void a policy as they may not be suitable for use on that vehicle.

Maintaining your tires to a good standard is also important. If an investigator finds that your tyres are excessively worn, under-inflated or damaged, and are the cause of an accident, they can refuse to pay out.

Driving another car with 'D.O.C'

Sometimes your policy will entitle you to drive a car belonging to someone else (usually excluding your spouse) - but with third party cover only. Your own policy will not cover any damage to the car, although the owner's insurance may cover it if the car is stolen or requires repair.

Sometimes the policies state that other cars can only be driven in an emergency and you must have the owner's permission to use the car. You cannot use it to drive cars that are on a hire purchase agreement.

Most policies do not require the third party car to have its own insurance but it is worth checking - as a policy that allows you to drive otherwise uninsured cars is more useful than one that allows you to drive only currently insured cars.

Driving a company vehicle that's not correctly insured

If you use a company vehicle and find that the insurance has expired, or did not cover you for that vehicle, you and your employee can face prosecution for driving without insurance.

Despite the fact that the offence was committed unintentionally, as the driver of the vehicle you are responsible for confirming that appropriate insurance cover is in place for the vehicle.

Overloading

It is possible to invalidate your insurance by driving an obviously overloaded vehicle - although in the event of an accident with someone else the insurer would still pay out any damages to the third party.

As well as increasing future premiums, you would also incur a penalty of 3 points on your license and a £60 fine. In extreme cases you could be punished for driving without due care which would result in 9 points and up to £2,000 in fines.