Temporary insurance measures introduced to cover drivers during lockdown are set to end on April 30, meaning drivers may risk invalidating their cover if they do not update it before then1.

Car insurance is a legal requirement for motorists, and your insurer needs to have accurate information about you and your vehicle in order for it to be valid. Providing false information or failing to update it can mean that your insurer refuses to pay out for claims, or even cancels your policy.

With lockdown restrictions lifting across the country, drivers may risk invalidating their insurance as their motoring habits revert to how they were before the pandemic. CarParts4Less.co.uk has shared 10 easy-to-make mistakes that might be invalidating your car insurance.

Temporary insurance measures are changing your morning commute

The temporary insurance measures meant that drivers whose insurance usually only covers them for social use were able to commute to work, but soon this will no longer be the case.

Following the changes on the April 30, you will now need to have business cover if you intend to commute to work. Without business cover, your insurance will be invalidated if you commute to work using social cover, as you were able to during the pandemic.

However, if you intend to commute to work using public transport and only use your car for social occasions, then social cover will be adequate.

Using more miles than you thought

If you’re planning on driving for a domestic holiday this year, it’s a good idea to consider whether the trip will fit into your insurance plan. Many policies use your annual mileage as one of the factors to calculate your insurance premium; the higher the mileage, the higher the cost. Accuracy is important when providing this figure, so even though many drivers won’t have driven much over lockdown, if a long trip will take you over your estimate it’s best to contact your insurer in advance to check that you’re covered for it.

Driving with pets

Our pets have become more of a lifeline than ever during lockdown and what better way to reward them than a dog friendly getaway but if you’re planning on taking your pet on holiday with you, it’s important to remember that you are legally required to make sure they are secured. Unsecured pets can make a car more at risk of accidents, as they may distract the driver or even physically get in the way of driving. If you crash with an unsecured pet in the car, it’s likely that your insurance company will refuse to pay for your claim.

Not informing your insurer about any car modifications

Before preparing for a staycation, it’s common to install roof or bike racks so everything that’s needed for the holiday can be packed. However, some drivers may be unaware that these additions can be counted as modifications by some insurers and this could require a change in your policy. Before installing, contact your insurer to let them know of your plans.

Car modifications can affect your insurance premium for two reasons; if they increase the likelihood of an accident, or if they increase the likelihood of theft. For brand new cars, optional add ons, including fitting a SatNav, can impact insurance so it’s important to ensure these options are noted when applying for a policy.

Lying about your main address

Insurance premiums vary depending on the postcode, as some areas have higher rates of thefts and break ins. It can be tempting to put down your home address as somewhere different – your house when you’ve been staying at your partner’s over lockdown for example. However, doing so can mean your insurer can refuse to pay out, for example, if your car is broken into in the location it actually resides.

Letting other people drive your car

Long journeys can be tough for the driver, and it may be tempting to swap drivers during the journey. If you are considering doing this on the way to your holiday destination, it’s vital that they are added as a named driver onto your policy.

While it’s possible for your friends or family to have insurance policies that allow them to drive other people’s cars, it is unlikely these policies cover damage to the vehicle in the event they are in an accident, and your policy may only cover damage caused when a named driver is behind the wheel. So while your friend can legally drive the car, you may not be able to claim for accidents.

Not informing your insurance company of minor accidents

In the case of small bumps or minor accidents where only cosmetic damage occurs, it’s common for motorists to have their car fixed without making a claim. However, even if you intend not to claim, it is important to inform your insurer of any damage received, as not doing so is a breach of policy. This helps in the event that the other driver changes their mind and decides to claim, and also ensures damage is accounted for if you do need to claim after future incidents – damage which is inconsistent with a claim may mean that you are denied.

‘Fronting’

Insurance for young drivers often costs more than other groups, and one way some motorists try to get round these higher premiums is by having a low risk driver, such as a parent or partner, named as the main policy holder, and adding the real motorist as a named driver. If you get caught ‘fronting’, your policy will immediately be cancelled, and any claims denied. These cases are often taken to court and classed as insurance fraud, with outcomes including fines of up to £5,000 and six points on your license.

You’ve recently changed jobs

Your current occupation is one of the factors used to determine your risk profile, so it’s important to update your insurer if you have changed jobs or occupations. This is especially true at a time when many people have unfortunately lost their jobs and moved on to new employment. Failure to do so may mean any claims made after a job change can be denied by your insurer.

Charging for lifts

Some policies specifically exclude cover for car sharing, whether you make a profit or not. For those whose policies do allow lift sharing, it may be void if you charge people for journeys – many state that you may only make enough to cover petrol and driving costs. Earning money from giving lifts can identify you as a ‘taxi hire service’, voiding many policies.

It’s important to always read the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy, to ensure that you have not accidentally invalidated it. Keep your insurance provider up to date with any change of circumstances, regardless of whether you think it’s relevant, as some seemingly unrelated life changes can impact your premium.

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