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Misfuelling misery! Don’t assume your car insurance will pay out

02 July 2015
  • 42% of comprehensive car policies exclude misfuelling
  • Research reveals wide variety in cover available
  • New guide explains how the cover works and what to do if you misfuel

Misfuelling is when the wrong fuel is pumped into a car, such as putting petrol into a diesel engine. This can cause a huge amount of damage to a car’s engine which can cost thousands of pounds to repair.

However, in a study of more than 220 comprehensive car insurance policies, Gocompare.com found that most providers only provide a limited amount cover for misfueling, with significant number not offering any cover at all.

Where insurance cover for using the wrong fuel is included, it is typically found under the accidental damage section of the policy.  A small number of policies include separate misfuelling cover either as standard or as an add-on.

Of those policies covering misfuelling the level of cover and pay-outs vary widely.  Depending on the policy, cover may be available for: the cost of draining and cleaning the fuel tank, and/or any associated towing costs, and/or reimburse some or all of the cost of the fuel, and/or mechanical damage to the engine as a result of misfuelling.

Analysis* of over 220 comprehensive car insurance policies by Gocompare.com revealed that:

  • 42% of policies exclude misfuelling;
    One in ten policies include as standard, s
  • parate misfuelling cover for damages/costs for removal of fuel (rather than including it as an accidental damage claim);
  • 3% offer separate cover for misfuelling as an optional extra;

Cover levels and pay outs vary hugely.  Hastings Direct’s Premier Car Insurance policy provides separate cover for misfuelling as a standard policy feature.  This provides UK cover only, and pays out up to £250 per claim for draining and flushing out the fuel tank, recovery of the vehicle and occupants, refilling the tank up to 10 litres.  Mechanical or component damage is excluded.

Home & Legacy’s Prestige Motor Insurance provides misfuelling cover as a separate policy.  This provides cover of up to £2,500 to clean the fuel system and other associated parts of the vehicle and to repair any loss or damage.

Matt Oliver, Gocompare.com’s car insurance spokesperson, said: “Misfuelling is an easy mistake to make especially if you’re in a rush and drive more than one vehicle which use different fuel types or have just changed your car.  But, a moment’s absent mindedness at the pump can prove expensive.  While misfuelling is a common error, you can’t assume you’ll automatically be insured for it under your car insurance and or breakdown cover.  You’ll need to check the policy wording for details.  If your policy excludes misfuelling you can buy a specialist, standalone policy.” 

Matt Oliver continued, “The extent of damage caused to your car by using the wrong fuel can vary depending on how much of it enters the system.  So, if you think you have misfuelled your vehicle - don’t start the engine.  Draining and cleaning the tank of the wrong fuel should help fix the problem without damaging your car.  Don’t drive away hoping for the best – this will only increase the damage and cost of repairs.  And, may invalidate your insurance as your insurer may deem that you have failed to take due care.”

For more information about car insurance and misfuelling visit Gocompare.com's misfueling guide.


Notes to editors:

*Source: *Defaqto Matrix of 225 comprehensive car insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (5 June 2015). Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number