Car Insurance• Millions of motorists could be driving vehicles with invalid insurance or far lower cover than they think
• Over a third (35 per cent) of people with a UK driving licence think a fully comprehensive car insurance policy covers them to drive any vehicle and be entitled to the same level of cover
• Less than a quarter (24 per cent) would tell their insurer if they were planning to drive another vehicle
• Only 40 per cent have checked whether their policy covers them for driving another vehicle

New research1 from Churchill Car Insurance reveals millions of motorists on Britain’s roads could be driving with invalid insurance, or far lower cover than they believe to be in place. Over a third (35 per cent) of people with a UK driving licence think that if they have a fully comprehensive car insurance policy they can drive any vehicle with the same level of cover. This figure rises to almost half (46 per cent) of those aged 18-34 years old.

However, almost no insurers offer “open” cover for Driving Other Cars (DOC), which would allow all license holders to drive cars not listed on their policy. As a result, many motorists risk travelling thousands of miles in the cars of friends, family members or colleagues without insurance.

A third (33 per cent) of licence holders that said they would assume their cover extends to other vehicles believe a fully comprehensive policy allows them to drive another vehicle with no restrictions whatsoever. Less than a quarter (24 per cent) would inform their insurer if they wanted to drive another vehicle.

Worryingly just 40 per cent of Brits with a UK driving licence have ever checked whether there are exclusions that would prevent them from driving someone else’s car. This lack of awareness means millions of drivers could be getting behind the wheel and not be covered in the event of an accident.
The research reveals just 12 per cent of motorists who believe they are covered to drive any car understand that it is likely to be for a limited time period and just 16 per cent think it would be restricted to emergency situations only.

DOC cover, which often only extends to third parties, is only intended by insurers to be used for a very small proportion of time during a policy year. The intention of any cover provided is to ensure third parties have some degree of legal protection if the insured customer has to drive a car in an emergency, such as the owner of the vehicle being taken ill unexpectedly.

Rob Miles, director of Motor at Churchill Insurance, said: “Fully comprehensive insurance does not cover every driver in every situation and it’s worrying to see that so few motorists understand this. Drivers have a duty of care to passengers, fellow road users and pedestrians to ensure they have appropriate insurance cover in place when they get behind the wheel. Uninsured motorists drive up the cost of insurance premiums for all other drivers and ignorance is no excuse. We’d therefore urge all motorists to check their policies before using someone else’s car.”

Regional findings

On a regional basis, the highest proportions of licence holders that assume they are covered to drive any vehicle are in Scotland (42 per cent), the North East of England (42 per cent) and Yorks & Humberside (42 per cent).