It’s in the fine print, but most of us never read it. An insurance policy is a dry document full of exclusions which could mean you don’t get paid if your car gets stolen or you have a crash. Even a minor crash can cost thousands of pounds so you don’t want to saddle yourself with a huge debt that takes years to pay off. Every insurance company is different and what you should look out for in your policy are the following exclusions.
Every insurance company is different and what you should look out for in your policy are the following situations and exclusions if they were a contributing factor to the crash.
The driver doesn’t have the right licence
If you give permission for someone to drive your car and they don’t have a licence, that can be negligence on your part. If they don’t have the right type of licence (e.g. they have a motorbike licence and you let them drive your car) the same applies.
The driver isn’t old enough
Insurance for high-powered vehicles might give an age limit for the youngest driver, or you may have requested this to bring down your insurance premium. This means drivers younger than that age, even if driving with a licence, will not be covered.
The driver isn’t named on the policy
Some policies require drivers to be named. This is usually to get a discount as it reduces the risk. It might be that an unnamed driver is still insured, but the excess will be far higher.
Your insurance or tax has run out
If you forget to renew your insurance, you’re not covered, even if it’s the day after it expired. If you move house, change phone number or email address, let your insurance company know. If you pay by automatic payment and you change your bank details, check the payments are still being made.
If your tax has run out, your insurance will be invalidated.
You haven’t disclosed all relevant information
When you apply for insurance, the company looks at all the information, works out how risky it thinks you’ll be, then gives you a price based on that risk. These are things like where you park the car, how many speeding fines you’ve had, whether you’ve been convicted of drink driving, and which gender you are (e.g. young males are riskier than young females). If you leave out critical information that makes you look less risky than you are, then you have an accident and the insurance company finds out, they could refuse to pay.
You must also disclose if your vehicle has had any modifications. Modifications don’t usually mean factory-installed accessories such as tinted windows and roof racks; they mean upgrades that enhance the performance, like fitting a supercharger. However, if you have a factory-installed option which increases the value of the car, for example large alloy wheels, you should let the insurance company know so that it’s included in the description and value of the car.
If you modify your car illegally and it contributes to the crash, this could be a problem for you – see below about roadworthy vehicles.
If your policy requires you estimate the number of miles you do a year and you are over the threshold, you might not be insured.
You’re wearing inappropriate footwear
Flip-flops and other unstable footwear cause many near misses and a few accidents every year. You’re required to be in control of your car at all times and if you’re wearing shoes that don’t allow you to operate the pedals properly, you’re not in control.
Pets loose in the car
Carrying your dog on your lap or letting a cat roam free in the car is a dangerous distraction. The animal could get under the pedals, preventing you from braking. It could jump out of a window. Dogs should be in a harness or cage and cats should be in a cage. Loose pets become furry missiles under heavy braking.
Visual obstructions in your car
Stickers on the windows, fluffy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror and other visual obstructions make it difficult for you to see what’s coming. It’s unlikely that an insurance company will refuse a claim, but it does depend on the circumstances.
Leaving your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition while you run in to pay for something is tempting fate. It’s also negligent. Parking your car in a secluded, high-crime area with goods visible is negligent, too.
Driving on a racing track
Usually, if you are using your car for a track day or a race then you won’t have insurance cover. However, some educational days might be covered if they are based around low-speed control and hazard awareness rather than performance driving.
Your medical condition prevents you from driving
Some medical conditions will mean that you are not permitted to drive for a certain period of time or during certain hours. Break these rules and you might not be insured. You may also be breaking the law if you have taken prescription medications and driven after a doctor has told you not to drive when taking those medications.
You’re breaking the law
Racing on the road, driving drunk, driving under the influence of drugs, drifting, or using a hand-held mobile phone are all against the law. The insurance company will look at the circumstances and decide whether to pay if you cause a crash.
Your car is not fit for the road
Tyres are the big thing to check here, particularly if you were warned about them in your last MoT, but didn’t do anything about it then had an accident that was caused by your tyres.
Of course, your car is only noted as roadworthy on the day of the inspection; after that, it’s your responsibility to ensure it’s kept up-to-standard.
Other parts of your car that could cause accidents if they are not maintained correctly are the brakes, handbrake and suspension. Needless to say, illegal modifications like chopping your springs could invalidate your insurance.