Ben Griffin explains whether you are able to drive someone else’s car and be covered by your own insurance.
There will be a time in a motorist’s life when he or she needs to drive another vehicle belonging to a relative, friend or work colleague. As a driver yourself with car insurance, you might think you are covered ─ but it’s not that simple.
Here’s what you need to know about the ‘driving-other-cars’ (DOC) benefit to remain on the right side of the law.
In olden times
In years gone by most insurers would cover a fully comprehensive policy owner with at least third-party insurance when driving another vehicle assuming, of course, you had the owner’s permission. But these days it’s less common.
You see, it is becoming increasingly common for comprehensive policies to require you to front-up a few more quid for the privilege, or you have to request it specifically when taking out the policy. Either way, expect a fair few lines of small print to apply. The car you are driving may also need at least third-party insurance.
What does third-party mean?
Third-party insurance (sometimes known by insurers as ’emergency cover’) is the base requirement expected by law to drive a car legally. It covers damage caused by your car, but all repairs on the car you were driving must be paid for by you.
Third-party fire and theft (TPFT) goes one step further and covers the car you were driving if written off as a result of fire or theft. Fully comprehensive is the best as it covers everything, even repairs in the event an incident was your fault.
So who is exempt?
There’s a good chance your insurer has exempted young drivers from being able to drive someone else’s car using their own insurance because they are statistically more likely to stuff it into a tree.
But some insurers have no age restriction on their policy, which is good because a 20-year-old with three years of driving experience and a clean licence is probably safer than a 25-year-old who has just passed and wants to take out his dad’s BMW M4 for a spin.
Any other small print?
Your job matters, actually. It is, in fact, another major stipulation and one that essentially stops certain ‘risky’ people from having access to DOC.
To this end, some car insurers will stipulate that the car you are borrowing must only be owned and not hired or covered by a hire purchase agreement.
What about when driving abroad?
There’s a chance your insurance policy drops down to TPFT or third-party unless you have paid for European cover or it’s included as standard in the policy and that driving other cars is restricted to the country in which you took out said policy.
This means the chance of your policy allowing you to drive another car when abroad is much less likely. Temporary cover or becoming a named driver is your best bet in this case so check with your insurer to shed some light on the matter.
So how can I be fully sure?
Ring your insurer and explain your situation. It may be better to go with temporary car insurance or have someone add you as a named driver, depending on the situation. Your insurance company will advise you best on how to stay on the right side of the law and up to date with the latest information, not what was in last year’s leaflet.
Is it worth the hassle?
Tedious it may seem, but being caught without insurance could land you a fixed penalty of £300 and six penalty points. If the case goes to court you may end up with a fine that is unlimited and be disqualified from driving.
Not only that, your insurance premium is likely to skyrocket as it’s just about the biggest black mark you can have on your insurance record.
Why have insurers made life more difficult?
Because apparently some people were taking the mickey and driving big, fancy cars that would normally cost them a lot of money to cover and insure. It was meant for emergencies only but the clause was abused.