Friday, May 24, 2024

Could you be Invalidating Your car Insurance Without Knowing it?

Breaking the terms and conditions set out in your car insurance policy can mean you invalidate it. It means that your insurer can refuse to pay out and cancel your policy altogether. Here, comparison site, highlights surprising ways you could be invalidating your policy, and offer advice on how to get cheap car insurance if you’ve ever had car cover cancelled.

Leaving your pets unrestrained

Pets that travel with you should be properly restrained. Not only is this something that insurers usually put in their terms and conditions, it’s also set out in the Highway Code.

Ideally, you should keep your pet in a cage in the boot or use a specially designed pet seat belt. It’s important to remember that keeping your pet secure is for everyone’s benefit. If you’re involved in an accident, the force and impact of an unrestrained pet can be devastating for both you and your four-legged friend. 

Not declaring modifications

Modifications are changes to your car after it leaves the factory, for example, adding a spoiler, or alloy wheels, having it resprayed a different colour or changing the engine.

If you decide to modify your car in any way you should always let your insurer know. This is because changes can affect the value and performance of your car, making it more expensive to repair or more tempting to thieves. Your premium will be adjusted to reflect this.

It’s well worth knowing that not all modifications will lead to a rise in your premium. Some may not make any difference at all – for example, if you make adaptations for a disability. Some changes could actually lower premiums, for instance, if you increase car security.  

Not declaring changes in personal circumstances

Premiums are based on a number of factors including the car you drive, your age, address and job. If any of those factors change, you should let your insurer know straight away so they can adjust your policy.

Depending on the change, your premium could go up or down but it’s important to speak to your insurer. Not telling them about a significant change is considered non-disclosure and is one of the main reasons why policies are cancelled.

Using the wrong class of use

Class of use simply describes the way you use your car – for instance if you use it just for family and personal reasons or for business use. It’s also an important factor in determining the cost of car insurance so if it’s wrong, your premium won’t accurately reflect the risks you face behind the wheel. The result is that any policy you do have will become invalid.

Examples of classes of use that you can expect to choose from include:

  • Social, domestic, pleasure (SDP) – for everyday activities like school runs, food shopping and visiting friends and family.
  • Social, domestic, pleasure + commuting (SDP+C) – as well as standard SDP, this also includes commuting to a single place of work.
  • Business use – covers you to drive to multiple workplaces, for example, if you visit regional offices.

Eating and drinking behind the wheel

These count as distractions so if you do either, have an accident and then make a claim, the insurer has grounds to reject your application.

Distractions don’t just include eating and drinking, you should also take care not to hang anything large from your rear-view mirror that compromises visibility. 

Similarly, as well as keeping distractions to a minimum, you’re expected to have full control of your car. With that in mind, policies can also be invalidated if you’re found to be wearing unsuitable footwear that limits your control over the pedals. This includes very high heels, shoes with thick soles or platforms, flip flops or going barefoot.

How can I get cheap car insurance if an insurer cancels my policy?

If you’ve had car insurance cancelled, you can expect to pay higher than average premiums. You might even find some insurers reluctant to provide cover altogether.

This is because policies are usually only cancelled with good reason – typically fraud, non-disclosure or non-payment. Whatever the reason, it raises a red flag and makes insurers wary and raising premiums covers the increased risk.

If you find yourself in this position, comparing quotes is still a good way to see what’s available to you. Alternatively, you could consider using a specialist provider instead. These types of insurers have the experience of working with drivers considered higher risk and should be able to offer a competitive deal.

Claire James
Claire James
Claire is an accounts manager at Fire Digital UK, an online publishing and content marketing company based in the North West.

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