Some surprising things your car insurance probably doesn't cover

16th April 2018

Dog with head out of car window

In taking out car insurance, you might not pay close attention to the small print of the policy's terms and conditions. However, this can be surprisingly risky, as various policies can omit coverage for an array of things that you might have initially assumed were standard inclusions in your own policy.

Here is a rundown of situations in which your car insurance could be surprisingly invalidated.

Leaving the car registered at someone else's address

If you originally took out your insurance when you were living with your parents but have since flown the nest, you need to indicate the change of address to your insurer.

The price of your cover can be significantly affected by where you live, due to such factors as crime rates and flood risk that could pose threats to your car and, thus, increase your likelihood of making a claim. Insurers have investigative departments that check addresses, Glasgow's Daily Record warns.

Using "social" cover for commuting

For what purpose do you use your car? If you sourced your insurance online, you were probably given options including "social" and "commuting", indicates InsuranceStuff.

If you selected "social", this would cover you for car journeys to friends' and family's homes and the supermarket, plus similar trips. However, if you also use the same car to travel to work, even if you always stop at the train station, you need to extend your cover with a "social and commuting" policy.

Modifying your car - in many situations

You might already understand why you ought to notify your insurer if clearly functional modifications, like a new engine or lowered suspension, are made to your vehicle.

However, you might not have realised the number of other changes that, if brought about, wouldn't actually fall under your policy's coverage. Such changes include tinted windows, stickers and custom paint jobs. However, some modifications might come under more of a grey area.

For example, disability-friendly adaptations, not to mention optional extras available from your car manufacturer, might all be covered as long as you receive approval from your insurer.

Accidents for which you entirely foot the bill

You might understandably think that, if you have a minor accident the repair of which falls within your financial reach, you can just pay for it yourself and neglect to say a word to your insurer.

Alas, you would actually be breaching your policy's terms if you fail to let your insurer know about any damage that your vehicle incurs.

Driving with pets

One requirement of the Highway Code is that, when preparing to drive, you ensure "dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so that they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop too quickly".

Therefore, it's worth heeding the law's requirement that you suitably restrain your pet - for example, with the use of a seatbelt harness or pet carrier - while driving. Failing to do this would be illegal, not to mention make the car insurance invalid.

A recent change of job

Insurers will consider your job title when deciding on the extent of your premiums. Don't fail to tell your insurer about even small changes to your job title, as they could still affect those premiums.

Personalised number plates

Though personalised number plates are rising in popularity in the UK, insurers often omit to offer cover for them. Hence, few insurers will shell out for the registration number's value should the car be lost or stolen - and that value could be thousands of pounds.

Trying to use the wrong fuel in your vehicle

Placing the incorrect fuel in a car - for example, putting diesel in a petrol car or vice versa - occurs more often than you might have realised. It's a mistake made by about 150,000 people annually in the UK. However, starting an engine with the wrong fuel can seriously damage that engine.

Furthermore, the majority of car insurance policies will not fund repairs to engines damaged in this way. Many such policies that do would still require you to surrender your no claims discount.

Specifying yourself as just a 'named' driver

Insurance tends to be relatively inexpensive for drivers who are aged over 25 and have long held a no claims bonus. However, if you know such a driver, attempting to save money on insurance by, on the policy, specifying them as the main driver would be illegal. Fortunately, at Call Wiser, our comparison services can help you obtain favourably-priced car insurance - and legally!

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