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Cover to drive other cars

If you need to drive a car that isn't your usual vehicle, don't assume you're covered by your standard car insurance policy. Read on to find out more about driving other cars.

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Whether you have your own car or rely on public transport to get you from A to B, many people need to drive another vehicle once in a while.

If you need to test drive a car you are thinking of buying, drive relatives to the airport, or move large items of furniture, you might find yourself behind an unfamiliar wheel. And, when you do, it's essential to avoid getting caught out with the wrong type of policy, or without any car insurance at all.
 
Traditionally, cover for driving other cars (DOC) came as standard with a fully comprehensive insurance policy, giving drivers third party only cover for other vehicles. But this was open to insurance scams and, as a result, it is no longer automatically included in many policies.

Car

Some insurance companies do still offer DOC cover, so long as the customer does not own the car, has not hired it, and they are over a certain age (usually 25).

DOC is intended for emergencies only and does not cover you to drive another car regularly. The question is, what counts as an emergency?

To avoid a potential situation where your insurer disputes your claim, the safest bet, as usual, is to contact the provider to check the terms of your policy.

If you are planning to drive another vehicle, or you think you might do so in the future, keep reading to see the options available to you.

Short term car insurance

There are occasions where you might need to drive a vehicle for just a couple of hours or for a day or two. You may be test driving a new car that you're considering buying or borrowing a friend or relative's car whilst yours is being repaired.

Short term, or temporary, cover usually lasts between one day and 28 days. It usually covers cars and vans, but can also apply to vehicles such as motorhomes and caravans.

If you add a named driver to your policy and they have to make a claim, your no claims could be at risk

Some short term car insurance policies cover drivers aged 21 or over, but usually drivers have to be 25 or over due to the risks of insuring young motorists. You might also find it difficult to get this type of cover if you have endorsement points on your licence or a poor claims history.

A temporary policy might be subject to more conditions than a standard policy, and drivers should also remember that a short term insurance certificate cannot be used to tax a vehicle.

To find out more, read our guide before clicking through to Gocompare.com's short term motor insurance quote service to find the best policy for you.

Becoming a named driver

Adding your name to another person's policy can be a good option if, for example, you need to drive a car which isn't your own a few times throughout the year.

Whilst short term policies can be convenient, they often incur an administration fee and these can add up if you take out temporary cover several times.

Becoming a named driver on a policy belonging to someone such as your mum or dad could therefore work out cheaper than paying several times for short term cover.

But don't be tempted to consider fronting, which is where a higher-risk driver - such as a younger relative - gets a more experienced driver to name themselves as the policy holder in order to reduce the younger driver's car insurance premium. This is illegal and could land you a hefty fine, or even a spell in jail.

Hiring a vehicle

Now and again you might need to hire a larger vehicle such as a van to move to a new home, or to collect a large item from a store.

Van

Many drivers assume that the van rental price covers insurance. In most cases this is true, but prices and levels of insurance can vary dramatically, so make sure you ask what cover the hire price includes. One policy might appear cheaper than another but you might not necessarily be comparing like for like.

When deciding which hire firm to opt for, ask about the level of insurance cover or read the small print. You might want to pay for your own top-up cover if, for example, the existing insurance is very basic, or you are inexperienced in driving a vehicle of this size.

Lending someone your vehicle

Occasionally you might need to let a friend or relative drive your car. If you do, you will have to weigh up whether they need their own short term cover or whether you should add them to your own policy.

Don't forget to consider your no-claims bonus. If you add a named driver to your policy and they have to make a claim, your no claims could be at risk. If they have their own short term cover, however, your no-claims bonus will remain protected and you won't risk a hike in your next premium.

But if the driver needs to use your car several times throughout the year - such as a son or daughter coming home from university for the holidays - it might be cost-effective to add him or her as a named driver rather than taking out separate short-term policies each time.

What about telematics policies?

As with regular policies, if a vehicle is fitted with a black box for a telematics policy the proposed new driver will need to read the terms and conditions and ensure that the insurer is aware that an additional driver wants to use the vehicle.

In calculating premiums, the telematics insurance provider will base their assessment of driving ability on the overall way that the vehicle is driven and will not distinguish between different drivers behind the wheel.

By Rebecca Lees