Fully Comprehensive Insurance – What Are You Insured to Drive?
If you have fully comprehensive car insurance, then do you know what you’re actually allowed to drive?
Many people think that, because they are fully comprehensively insured, they can drive any vehicle. Yet this is not necessarily true. It all depends on the terms and conditions of your policy.
What does comprehensive insurance mean?
It used to be that if you were over the age of 25 and you had fully comprehensive car insurance, you could drive anyone else’s vehicle, so long as you had permission from the policyholder. Typically, this gave you third-party coverage on vehicles not listed on your policy.
In some situations, this is still the case. However, lots of insurance companies have changed the rules regarding driving other cars (DOC). This means you need to check the wording of your policy – you might not be insured to drive someone else’s car as you thought.
For example, sometimes the cover does not extend to third party vehicles on which there is outstanding finance. So, if you intend to drive a friend’s car, check if it’s on hire purchase (or some other finance agreement) before you drive it. Otherwise, your fully comprehensive insurance might not actually cover it.
Also, different rules can apply to the policyholder and any named drivers. For instance, if you are a named driver on your partner’s comprehensive policy, it might be that he/she covered is to drive any vehicle, but you are not.
Some insurers have removed the DOC benefit altogether, or have imposed restrictions for certain ‘risky’ occupations. This means that even if you are the policyholder and you have fully comprehensive insurance, you might not be allowed to drive another person’s car without securing additional coverage.
You should also remember that, even if you are allowed, it is probable that you only have third-party insurance cover. So, if you do have an accident, the owner may lose their no claims discount and may also be liable for the repair costs.
Consequences of driving without insurance
Every insurance policy is different. You need to check the terms of your own individual policy, and the policy of the vehicle you intend to drive. If you are not covered, you will have to get temporary coverage or ask to be named on the policy instead.
If you fail to take these steps, there could be serious consequences. These depend on the circumstances.
If there is basic Road Traffic Act compliant cover in place, driving on it may not amount to a criminal offence. However, if you are found to be driving without insurance, you could face up to six penalty points and a £300 fine with a fixed penalty notice. The penalties could be worse if the case goes to court.
Ignorance is not a defence. If you were driving without insurance, but you genuinely believed you were insured and had little chance of knowing otherwise, you may be able to argue special reasons. (This is when there are mitigating circumstances that explain your actions.)
But if you were driving without insurance simply because you failed to check the terms of the policy, the court is unlikely to be sympathetic. Therefore, you must check what is meant by ‘comprehensive’. If you are the policy-holder, you should also send a copy of the policy to any named drivers so they can verify their own position.
Contact us now
The rules surrounding fully comprehensive vehicle insurance can be confusing. Unfortunately, this has been known to catch people out. If you have been charged with driving without insurance, please contact us at Donnachie Law for advice on what to do next.
Why Choose Us?
- Bringing over 35 years’ experience to help you
- Specialist Court Solicitor
- Featured in Scots Law Times