Dr Moore-Money’s car insurance clinic

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Dr Moore-Money takes a moment to cogitate
"If you prang your neighbour’s pride and joy you could end up stiffed with a nasty bill"
  • | by Kristian Dando

Honk honk! Your favourite comparison doctor is back for his latest surgery session.

We’ve been swamped with car insurance questions over the past month, so the doc has decided to present a motoring special.

Over to you, M-M….

Dear Dr Moore-Money,

I’m a recently separated man in my late 30s.

Recently, I’ve been casting covetous glances over my driveway at my neighbour’s Astra.

It all started last summer, when she was soaping it over with a sponge and squeegee.

Image of people flirting over a car

Its purposeful curves, and the promise of what lay underneath (a 2.0-litre common rail diesel engine kicking out a trouser-tightening 150bhp, since you ask) really got my motor going.

We struck up a spot of mildly flirtatious banter, before we were interrupted by her husband.

He and I found out we had plenty in common – golf, real ale, a penchant for bootcut jeans and Ted Baker loafers, that sort of thing.

We quickly became fast friends, setting the world to rights down the local pub and over a cheeky few holes at the local course.

Image of a Vauxhall Astra

One evening, as the two of us sunk another fortifying pint of Abbot Ale, his wife came to join us on her way back from her Zumba class.

A few vodka and slimline tonics deep, the conversation took a racy turn.

I mentioned in jest that I’d be casting envious looks across their driveway. To my surprise, she giggled and suggested that I have a go sometime.

I was so tongue-tied I barely had a chance to respond. But before I had the opportunity to reply, her husband looked me directly in the eye and said: “Well, he should… but only if I watch.”

I’m now faced with a dilemma – should I take my neighbour’s ride for a quick session, or will it damage our friendship in the long run? And more importantly, what are the insurance implications?

Phil, Surrey

Dr Moore-Money says….

You’re not the first person to be faced with this sort of dilemma, and you certainly won’t be the last.

If a bit of key-swapping action with your neighbour is what you’ve got your heart set on, there are a few things to consider first. Namely, protection.

While your neighbour and her husband are more than comfortable with you running the rule over her Astra, it might be worth getting on the phone to your insurer first.

Your own policy might cover you for driving other people’s motors, but it’ll probably only extend to third-party level.

This means that if you prang your neighbour’s pride and joy you could end up stiffed with a nasty bill.

If your own policy  doesn’t cover you for other people’s vehicles, then short-term car insurance might be worth sniffing out.

Then, of course, there’s always the prospect of your neighbour and his wife adding you to their policy – but with the associated fees  you might find that this is a little too much to stomach for all parties.

Whatever you do, have fun… and be sure to be careful and considerate.

M-M

Dearest Dr Moore Money,

I’m writing to you this month with an embarrassing tale of putting something where it shouldn’t go.

Late the other night, I pulled up at my local filling station.

It had been a particularly fraught meeting at my local PTA, and flustered as I groped around for the nozzle and fiddled with my purse in the drizzle, I somewhat foolishly ended up sliding the petrol nozzle into the diesel slot of my car.

Before I’d had the chance to realise what I’d done, I’d pressed down firmly and eagerly awaited a much-needed filling.

Then, in a moment of blind panic, I realised the enormity of what I’d done.

With my tank half-full, I had to call an operative out to flush out the car, at no little expense.

Is this something that I might be able to make a claim for with my insurer?

Janet, Roehampton

Dr Moore-Money says…

Firstly Janet, I’m very sorry to hear about his very unfortunate mishap.

It’s a horrible feeling, glancing down and realising something's terribly amiss.

It may come as a shock, but it happens to a lot of people – as many as 150,000 every year according to research by the AA carried out in 2010.

Image of an enraged man at a fuel pump

It can also be incredibly expensive to rectify, especially if you’ve made the error of starting the car and driving off, making the engine damage worse.

My friends at Gocompare.com conducted an investigation into 223 car insurance policies last year, and found that only 9% covered the cost of draining and cleaning the tank. So I’m afraid the numbers are not stacked in your favour.

That said, misfuelling cover is sometimes offered as an optional extra, so you might want to consider that in the future if you’re of an absent-minded disposition.

M-M

Dear Dr Moore-Money,

My partner and I have recently bought a handsome Fiat Doblo for some zesty outdoor activities this coming summer, and we’re unsure as to whether ‘the Italian Stallion’ as we’ve affectionately dubbed it is, a car or a van.

Image of a Doblo with people relaxing next to it

We’re very much keen on camping out at some remote locations and perhaps even meeting some fellow enthusiasts over the coming months – and maybe even inviting them in to have a nose around and make themselves comfortable!

Do you have any tips on getting the best insurance deal for the brute?

Derrick, Solihull

Dr Moore-Money says…

Congratulations on your new purchase Derrick! It sounds like you’ve got an action-packed summer lined up.

My colleagues at Gocompare.com have handily put together this handy guide to differentiating whether your Doblo is a car or a van. I’m confident you’ll have got to the bottom of the matter after reading it.

I hope you don’t mind me asking, but as you mention camping,  are you planning on modifying the vehicle – for instance, installing beds, wipe-clean surfaces and so forth? Issues could arise if you do and don’t declare them.

If you’ve got your heart set on converting the car into a cosy bedroom on wheels you might be best served by speaking to a specialist insurer.

Also, be wary of who you let into your vehicle – while accidental damage to the interior of your car may be covered, things such as torn upholstery, scuffed surfaces and even worn out suspension may be considered in the realms of reasonable wear-and-tear.

Happy trails!

M-M

Join us next month for another instalment of Dr Moore-Money’s comparison clinic. Until then, send us your letters