7 Common Mistakes that Could Void Your Car Insurance

If your policy is voided, you'll have to fork out the costs yourself if you ever need to make a claim...

stop sign on road

October 12, 2020

Generally, UK motorists are aware of the fact that driving without a valid license, not disclosing a medical condition, drink/drug driving and not having a valid MOT or tax could invalidate your car insurance policy, meaning that in the event of a claim, a payout is likely to be rejected.

There are, however, other ways in which you could make your motor insurance policy null and void, perhaps without even realising.

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Voided car insurance – What does it mean?

A void motor insurance policy means that it is no longer valid and the insurance company will refuse any claims you make, because to them, it’s as if your policy never existed.

This means that you will have been wasting money by paying premiums for a policy that has no use to you. This is why it’s important to make sure you aren’t validating your cover and you’re still driving legally on UK roads.

Some people may be driving around with invalid insurance unknowingly, while others may be fully aware of the rules they’re breaking, but this is likely to lead to costly penalties and even convictions in some cases.

In this guide, we take a look at 7 mistakes that could lead to your car insurance being invalidated, some of which you may not be aware of. If you feel that any of the following applies to you and your insurer isn’t aware, make sure you let them know straight away, otherwise you could be driving around illegally.

Voided car insurance – What does it mean?

A void motor insurance policy means that it is no longer valid and the motor insurance company will refuse any claims you make because to them, it’s as if your policy never existed.

This means that you will have been wasting money by paying premiums for a policy that has no real use to you. This is why it’s important to make sure you aren’t validating your cover and you’re still driving legally on UK roads – otherwise, you risk facing penalties.

Some people may be driving around with invalid insurance unknowingly, while others may be fully aware of the rules they’re breaking, but this is likely lead to costly penalties and even convictions in some cases.

Here, we take a look at 7 mistakes that could lead to your car insurance being invalidated, some of which you may not be aware of. If you feel that any of the following applies to you and your insurer isn’t aware, make sure you let them know straight away, otherwise you could be driving around illegally.

1. Fronting

Do you have a named driver on your policy? Or perhaps you are a named driver on someone else’s motor insurance. Either way, there are a few things to be aware of to ensure that you’re not committing a type of car insurance fraud.

Young drivers notoriously face the most expensive premiums on the market, so many young drivers will add an older, more experienced ‘named driver’ (usually a parent) to their policy to reduce the cost.

If the parent was to drive the vehicle more than their child (who is listed as the main driver on the policy) then this is an illegal act known as fronting, which could land you with fines, a driving ban or even a court hearing if you’re caught, depending on your case.

Your insurance company will also void or cancel your policy, and in the event of an accident, your claim will also be rejected, so you’ll have to pay for any damage or injury costs yourself – which can be extortionate.

Not only this, but when it comes to getting cover in the future, your premiums will be much more expensive. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that a named driver must drive the vehicle less than the main driver.

Read more: The Implications of Being a Named Driver

2. Car modifications

If you change your vehicle in any way, your insurer will need to know. This mainly includes any obvious revisions that have been made to your car’s exterior, interior or engine.

For example, if you changed your 1.0 litre Vauxhall Corsa engine for a 4.3-litre V6 lifted from a powerful Mercedes, you will have to tell your insurance company because the vehicle is now much more powerful and potentially more dangerous. Failing to inform them will result in a void policy should you ever need to make a claim.

While that is a more extreme example, your policy could be invalidated even if you don’t declare a modification as simple as a car sticker. The reason for this is because it may be blocking your view or could distract drivers in some way.

Stickers that show an allegiance to a sports team or a strong political opinion may also invalidate your cover because there is an increased risk that your vehicle could be subject to theft or vandalism because of them, and this risk needs to be declared to your insurer.

If you are unsure about any changes you’ve made to your car, it’s worth contacting your insurer let them know and to double-check that you are fully covered. Make sure you are completely honest with your insurer about all modifications, big or small, as failing to disclose anything could result in a voided car insurance policy.

Learn more: Modified Car Insurance

3. Having the wrong class of use

We all use our vehicles for different reasons, so it’s important that we are correctly covered for our driving needs, otherwise we could find ourselves underinsured or maybe even paying too much for cover. And if your policy doesn’t sufficiently cover you, it is likely to be cancelled in the event of a claim, and all those premiums will have gone to waste.

The different types of car insurance classes of use are:

  • Social, Domestic and Pleasure: This covers general usage such as going shopping, visiting friends and family and any other normal day-to-day driving – but it does not cover your commute to work.
  • Social, Domestic, Pleasure and Commuting: This covers the same usage as above, but with the added cover of travelling to and from work. Adding commuting to your policy may increase premiums because accidents generally tend to happen during rush hour, so this increases the chances of you making a claim in the eyes of insurers.
  • Social, Domestic, Pleasure and Business: Be careful with this one, as there are usually three different types of business use classes for different purposes. Be sure to tell your insurer exactly what your vehicle is used for and they’ll be able to cover you for the appropriate classes on your policy.
  • Commercial: If you need to use your vehicle to provide a taxi service or you are providing driving lessons, you’ll need commercial use on your policy.

Failing to have the right car insurance classes on your policy is likely to result in it being null and void. If your needs are more unique, then you’ll likely need specialist cover – for example, if you’ve recently started delivering food, you’ll need food delivery insurance on top of your usual cover – otherwise you won’t be protected if anything goes wrong while working.

If you’re unsure, simply contact your insurer to make sure you have the right cover in place.

Read more: Car Insurance Buying Guide

4. Not updating your address

Many drivers forget to contact their insurer if they’ve moved house, but it’s important that you do this because if you ever need to make a claim but your insurance policy is still registered at another address, it will be invalid and you won’t be able to claim any money to cover the costs.

A DVLA spokesperson states that it is a legal requirement to inform the DVLA of any changes to your name or address – “if a driver fails to notify the DVLA of changes, they could face a fine of up to £1,000”.

Similarly, if your job has changed or you have a new car, you will also need to inform your insurance provider.

Read more: How Your Job Can Affect the Cost of Car Insurance

5. An invalid MOT

It is your responsibility to make sure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition, not just for your own safety, but for the safety of other drivers and pedestrians. This means ensuring that you have a valid MOT certificate and you carry out regular maintenance checks on your car yourself.

By failing to do the above, your insurer may void your insurance policy. For example, if you have an accident but your vehicle hasn’t had an MOT for a while and a fault with your car caused the accident, the insurer will deem your policy invalid for not keeping your vehicle in a safe condition and you’ll have to fork out a lot of money to cover the costs of any damages or repairs, which can be extortionate depending on the situation.

Learn more: MOT Checklist – Everything You Need to Know

6. Unrestrained pets

Driving around with pets that aren’t suitably restrained in your vehicle is illegal.

The Official Highway Code states:

“Make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restricting animals in cars.”

As well as being illegal, having a pet in your vehicle that’s free to travel from the passenger seat to the boot of the car without any restraints could void your car insurance policy due to the fact you’re likely to be distracted while driving, which is a common reason for being involved in a car accident and consequently making a claim.

If your pet was unrestrained and you had a road traffic accident, your insurer is unlikely to pay out because you were breaking the law and the animal could have led to you being distracted. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you are still likely to be refused coverage if they discover what was happening at the time of the accident (and they will).

7. Ignoring warning signs (floods, roads closed, red weather warning)

When driving on UK roads, it’s vital that you remain vigilant and pay close attention to any warning signs, such as those stating any road closures or flood warnings, and ensure you drive accordingly, particularly when the weather conditions are more adverse than usual.

If you choose to ignore a warning sign and you were subsequently involved in an accident or your car was damaged by floodwaters, your insurer is likely to reject your claim, as failing to follow road safety signs will lead to a void policy.

Again, this means that you will have to cover the costs of any damage or injury-related costs yourself.

Car insurance during a red weather warning – Will a red weather alert void my policy?

No. You are allowed to drive if red, amber or yellow weather warnings have been issued from the Met Office. However, these weather warnings are issued so that drivers can plan ahead and allow more time for travelling.

You won’t be penalised for travelling in strong winds or heavy rain/snow and your insurer will not invalidate your policy, but just remember that ignoring warning signs could lead to your policy being invalid and useless in the event of a claim, so if the weather is bad, be sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to go.

Voided car insurance – Will it increase the cost of my next policy?

Having a policy invalidated or a claim rejected by your insurer is likely to lead to higher premiums in the future.

If you shop around and compare quotes around three to four weeks before your car insurance renewal date to save money, you will need to declare whether or not you have previously done anything to invalidate your policy, and other providers may view you as a higher-risk driver, so they will increase the cost of your premiums to account for this added risk.

If you are looking for car insurance after previously having it invalidated, make sure you use a few comparison sites, try getting quotes from specialist providers or even contact insurance companies directly (particularly those not on comparison sites) to get a range of quotes. That way, you can find a policy that suits you and your budget.

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