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Motorists warned to check their cover before getting behind an unfamiliar wheel

26 September 2016
  • Drivers shouldn’t assume their comprehensive insurance extends to driving other cars or lending their vehicle to another driver;
  • Those at risk include people test driving a new car, taking relatives to the airport, borrowing a car to move a large item of furniture etc;
  • Only 8% of fully comprehensive car insurance policies extend fully comp. cover for the policyholder to drive other cars;

Gocompare.com Car Insurance is warning drivers not to assume that their comprehensive car insurance automatically affords them the same level of protection when they drive another car or lend their car to another driver.

Most policies reduce cover for driving other cars to third party only which just provides protection against third party claims – there’s no cover for damage, fire or theft to the ‘other car’ being driven.

The comparison website is also advising car owners to check whether their insurance extends to cover ‘any driver’ before allowing other people to borrow their car.   Any driver cover allows other motorists to drive the insured car with fully comprehensive cover.     

The warning follows a comparison of over 250 comprehensive car insurance policies which revealed that 92% provide only third party cover at best for the main policyholder to drive cars other than the one listed on the policy.  The comparison also found that over two thirds of policies exclude ‘any driver’ cover.

Cover for driving other cars: This allows the policyholder to drive cars that aren't owned by them or hired to them, providing they have permission of the vehicle owner to use the vehicle.  The car being driven must have a current, valid certificate of insurance.  Insurers usually apply restrictions such as age (typically the policyholder must be over 25), occupation (motor trade and taxi drivers are usually excluded), driving in the UK only and, to the type of vehicle driven.

The majority (92%) of the car insurance policies compared didn’t extend comprehensive cover for driving other cars; 4% provided fully comprehensive cover as an optional extra.  Only 3% of policies provided comprehensive cover as standard to the policyholder and all named drivers on the policy, 1% provided full cover as standard but restricted it to the policyholder and their spouse.

‘Any driver’ cover:  Over two-thirds (68%) of policies didn’t provide fully comprehensive cover for other drivers to use the insured car.  30% of the policies reviewed could be extended to provide cover but, these generally placed restrictions on the cover offered.  Only 2% of policies provided cover as standard, but again restrictions applied.

Matt Oliver, from Gocompare.com Car Insurance commented, “In the past, cover for driving other cars was a fairly standard element of a fully comprehensive car insurance.  Today, only a handful of insurers extend the full protection you have on your own car to driving other cars and you will need to check to confirm you have even third party cover.

“Third party only cover means that if you have an accident, the insurance will only pay out third party claims - you’ll be left to pick-up the full cost of any damage to the car you were driving.  Cover to drive other cars typically comes with the provisos that the customer, or their partner, doesn’t own or hasn’t hired the alternative car, that they are aged over 25 and, that the car has its own insurance and isn’t used on a regular basis.  Essentially, drivers can’t have two cars but only insure one of them.”     

Matt Oliver continued, “Many comprehensive policies also only provide full cover for drivers named on the policy – rather than ‘any driver’.  So, if you need to drive another car, don’t get behind the wheel without first checking your insurance.  Likewise, if you allow someone else to borrow your car, you need to be certain that they are fully insured.

“There are a couple of insurance options open to you if you need to borrow a car or lend yours to someone else, but it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each.  If you need to drive another car on an occasional basis or for a short period, you should consider either being a named driver on the owner’s insurance or arranging short-term car insurance.”

Named driver insurance: A named driver is someone who is insured to drive a car in which another person does most of the driving.  Unlike ‘drive other cars’ cover, a named driver has the same level of insurance cover for that vehicle as the main driver.  However, if you add a named driver to your policy and they have to make a claim, your no claims could be at risk.

If you chose to add extra drivers to your policy you will need their permission to do so and you will have to notify your insurer of the additional driver’s details, including any accidents and/or motoring convictions they may have had.  The cost of adding a driver to your insurance will depend on the terms and conditions of your insurance and on the age and driving experience of the driver you wish to add.  If the named driver has their own car insurance they will also need to declare to their own insurer that they have access to another car. 

Short-term insurance: Temporary, short-term motor insurance policies typically last between one and 28 days and are usually only available to drivers aged 25 or over.  Any claims made on the short-term policy should not affect your no claims bonus.  However, a short-term policy is likely to come with more exclusions than a standard policy so you should read the policy wording carefully.  Drivers with endorsement points on their licence or a poor claims history may find it difficult to obtain short-term insurance.

See Gocompare.com's guide for more information on additional driver insurance and cover to drive other cars.

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Notes to editors:

*Source: Defaqto Matrix of 252 comprehensive car insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (11 July 2016).  Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.