A change to the small print to a number of fully comprehensive car insurance policies could invalidate motorist’s cover.
Over the past few years car insurers have been removing a clause which allows you to drive any car when covered by a fully comprehensive policy.
Previously, this was one of the benefits of some fully comp policies that you would be covered driving any vehicle.
The change could leave some motorists unknowingly uninsured which could put them at risk of fines. Similarly, they may not be covered if they were to have an accident.
Over the past year, police officers made 4,000 calls to the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) police helpline relating to the ‘drive any car’ clause, reports the Mirror.
An addition 1,500 were seized during this period of time largely due to the fact motorists believed that they were covered to drive other vehicles, when in fact they weren’t covered at all.
Another issue with making this mistake is that drivers could have their claim rejected if they needed to make one in the case of an accident.
A lot of policies no longer offer the clause any more and the ones that do are caveated. For example, some policies will permit it but only if you are policyholder on a car and over the aged of 25.
Often the ‘drive any car’ insurance clause may not exist
Temporary insurance firm Tempcover states that over the past few years the clauses have been quietly removed from driver’s policies without them being informed of the changes.
Mirror Money and Defaqto found in an investigation the volume o insurers that had removed the clause.
On 31 January 2018, 263 of 298 car insurance past few years did not offer the clause while 11 had a standard excess of £1,000 for the policy.
A year on from this it had risen to 297 out of 321 policies. In addition to this different insurers had varying numbers of restrictions for this additional clause.
Motorists are unlikely to be covered to drive any car
For example, Swiftcover/Axa have just eight restrictions on the driving clause while M&S have a whopping 19, meaning there isn’t parity or clarity on the use of the clause across brands.
Across the board, young drivers under the age of 25 are unlikely to find an insurer that will offer them a drive any car clause.
“The modern-day ‘driving other cars’ (DOC) extension is a muddled and confusing mess that could cost drivers,” explained Alan Inskip, chief executive of temporary motor insurance provider Tempcover.
“Unfortunately, drivers are unable to see whether they are covered to drive another car until they’ve purchased a policy.
“It’s an important policy feature that rarely gets a mention during the price comparison process. Drivers under 25 are almost never covered to drive any car and we’re targeted specifically when many insurance providers like Admiral, Aviva and Hastings Direct were restricting the ‘Drive any Car Clause’ clause in their yearly policies.”
A statement from Admiral explains their stance on DOC policies: “We don’t offer DOC [drive other cars] extension to customers aged under 25.
“For customers aged 25 or over, then in most cases we do include the benefit to allow the policyholder to drive someone else’s car as standard on an Admiral policy. This cover is third party only and doesn’t apply to the named driver.
“However, just being over 25 doesn’t guarantee they have the DOC benefit. Other factors such as occupation and class of use of the vehicle will both affect whether we can provide DOC.
297 out of 321 policies analysed didn’t include the clause
“Some occupations, for example, those which involve driving may not qualify for the cover, this is because it can cause indemnity issues if there is an accident. We also take into account a driver’s experience.
“If someone has only held their licence for a short period of time, they are unlikely to have built up enough driving experience to quickly adapt to a new vehicle, one which could be of a higher power than they are accustomed to.”
An AXA spokeswoman told Mirror Money: “While a ‘driving other cars’ extension can be beneficial for some motorists, it’s important to remember that this type of cover still has certain restrictions, as with all kinds of insurance.
“Checking your policy documents, especially at renewal, will help you understand what limitations are in place, and you should contact your insurer if you have a specific question.”