When it comes to car insurance it’s important that you fully understand the cover that you’re taking out. One common misconception is that you can drive someone else’s car as long as you have fully comprehensive cover on your own car and the owner’s given you permission to drive it. But this isn’t always the case, and if caught both the driver and the person who owns the car can be prosecuted.
One motorist told the Daily Mirror of her cautionary tale after allowing her son to drive her car. Although she was initially reluctant to let him use the car, she gave him permission once he had assured her that he was fully covered under his own insurance to drive her vehicle.
Unfortunately, her son was involved in a crash near her home and he and the other driver gave different accounts of what happened. He said that the collision was unavoidable as the driver slammed on his brakes, whereas the other driver insisted that the son was on his mobile phone during the collision and claimed to have a witness to prove it.
The insurer refused to pay out as the policy that the son had was for a work van so he was not covered to drive a Vauxhall Corsa. The other driver in the collision then got in touch with Dorothy’s insurance provider which admitted liability for the accident and paid out damages of £45,000. But Dorothy was instead sent the bill to pay for this, something the insurer was able to do as her son was not covered to drive the car under her policy.
According to Churchill Insurance, of the estimated 5 million people that lent their car to their friend in 2015, around 650,000 didn’t check that they were covered to drive it beforehand. Although letting your friend nip to the shops or your mum post a letter in your car may not seem like you’re doing anything seriously wrong at the time, the consequences can actually be quite severe. It can result in an average fine of £271, as well as six points on your licence and can even see you disqualified from driving in some cases.
To help you avoid a situation like this if you’re considering letting someone use your car, you should first make sure they’re covered to drive other vehicles. The majority of fully comprehensive policies allow you to drive another person’s car for limited periods. But this often doesn’t include under 25s or certain people based on their job (e.g. if you’re in the motor trade). And if it does, it’s likely to only provide you with the legal minimum of “third party” cover – which will only protect you if you cause damage to another car or person but not to yourself or to the car you’re driving.
Instead of taking this risk, you could add someone with a clean licence to your policy (with comprehensive cover) as a temporary named driver for a fee. This option will not only be safer for you both, but the fee is bound to be much cheaper than any fine would be.