7 common mistakes that could invalidate your car insurance policy

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Related: 10 things you probably didn’t know about car insurance

Aside from actively engaging in ‘fronting’ (where you take out motor insurance as the main driver on someone else’s behalf to reduce the premium), driving without a valid license, non-disclosure of poor health, drink/drug driving, the vehicle you’re driving not having a current MOT and giving a false address to secure cheaper insurance premium, there is a raft of alternative ways in which you can make your motor insurance policy null and void.

Not that anyone would obviously set out to do this, unless they’re A) criminally intent, B) naïve, C) thoughtless or indeed, D) stupid. Aha, stupid. You see while all the above-mentioned examples are seen as more blatant attempts to shoot yourself in the foot, there are many more which are purely down to crass foolishness on the part of the (often) clueless (and most definitely, hapless) driver.

Here we take a quick ganders at just a small selection of the mishaps which could inadvertently lead to your car insurance being invalidated; most of which you may not have even been aware of.

And if you were in the loop, then perhaps you should seriously think again about tempting fate by indulging in any of the following vehicular pursuits henceforth.

But before we venture down that particular one way street, let’s remind ourselves why sometimes even the motor insurance providers take their rules and regulations to the jobsworthy limits.

As a quick example, who’d have thought that placing a sticker on the boot of your car declaring your religious beliefs would result in an invalid policy?

That’s exactly what happened last year to a vicar who almost had their insurance policy rendered null and void when their inoffensive bumper sticker came to light in the aftermath of sending her insurer photos in relation to a claim they’d recently filed.

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So you can imagine their face when the insurance provider responded with a letter demanding that they explain just why they hadn’t previously informed them about the stickers, threatening to invalidate the policy if they failed to afford them a justifiable reason. Without naming names, the motor insurer’s strongly worded correspondence apparently went something along the lines of; ‘These modifications do not fit our acceptance criteria for motor insurance. Cover would have been declined if we had been made aware of these at the time of purchasing your policy.’

Note the use of the word, modification there? Wowsers. Pedantics cranked up to the max power we think. To cut a long story short, the vicar was eventually let off the hook and vowed never to deface their car with adhesive strips ever again.

Anyway, back on topic and here are a few of the slightly less preposterous things you could do in your car which could see you having your existing motor insurance policy suddenly forfeited and not worth the paper it’s printed on:

Turning a blind eye to flood warning signs

Very topical this one, however a flooded car warning is for life, not just for Christmas we’d like to point out – and ignore one at your peril.

Believe it or not, ploughing on past a flood warning/road ahead closed sign which flags up the highway situation in advance can be enough to invalidate your car insurance if the vehicle is damaged by the flood waters and you subsequently attempt to make a claim. So think on and remain ever-vigilant.

Leaving your car running

Many of us have done it, especially on a cold winter’s morning after we’ve started the car up, switched the heaters/window de-icers to the maximum and returned inside to your warm abode to finish that hot cuppa before heading off to work/school run/shops/etc…

Yet your insurer might not see it as quite such a heart-warming and cosy tale, more of a classic instance of imperious daftness akin to leaving a sign on your window saying ‘free to any passer-by’. As should your car be stolen whilst the keys are in the ignition then an insurer will simply put this down to driver negligence and subsequently leave you in no-man’s land.

Come clean about any revisions to you/your vehicle

OK. We’re not necessarily talking about religious bumper stickers, rather those more obvious improvements you do to your car’s exterior, interior or engine. Like, say, swapping your 1.0-litre Vauxhall Corsa engine for a fire-breathing 4.3-litre V6 lifted from a powerful Mercedes.

Or attaching a picnic table-aping rear spoiler to your boot as the mood took you.

And never play the whole ‘Oops I forgot’ card, as that’s essentially tantamount to lying in motor insurance provider’s books.

And it’s not just updates about your car that you need to keep insurer notified about; as changes of address, occupation, penalty points you incur are ALL vitally important to convey.

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Excessive hoarding

A lot of people have a tendency to store more than they should in the confines of their car. We admit, it can easily happen. What starts off with the odd coat, tennis racket and broken food blender can quickly escalate out of all control before you know it as laziness takes over and turns your vehicle into a mobile branch of Poundland.

The problem is that an overloaded car could cause a road traffic accident; or at least be cited in a potential claim and bring with it the risk of your insurance being made null and void. Even filling your dashboard with an array of fluffy animal toys which arguably restrict the driver’s view could lead to invalidation.

Becoming a taxi before you realise

You wouldn’t be the first person to accept the generosity of a friend in need, who has crossed your palm with silver in exchange for a lift home at the end of a night’s revelling in town (and after exhausting all official taxi possibilities).

However if you begin to make a habit of carting folk here, there and everywhere – and receive payment for your troubles – then this will most definitely be frowned upon by your motor insurer. And while pounds mean frowns, frowns consequently mean a null and void insurance policy in the eyes of your provider, as you are not entitled to profiteer from offering taxi’ing services as part of your policy agreement. Unless you are an actual taxi/taxi driver that is.

Drifting to distraction

It’s one thing enjoying briefly-executed one-upmanship at the traffic lights, yet another one altogether when you decide to take to the track to settle your differences.

If you choose to experience the track, an off-road circuit or rally stage in your everyday runabout, then you must ALWAYS speak with your car insurer first as engaging in these pursuits without their blessings/consent (and an additional premium payment) will result in disqualification. In terms of your existing insurance policy that is.

Please note that Germany’s fabled Nurburgring isn’t a public road shaped like a massive track but is in fact a private track used for racing cars; so you’ll definitely need to pre-arrange specific insurance to have a blast around it.

Following the sat-nav to the letter/road number

Nine times out of ten our sat-nav systems tend to save our blushes as we forget/don’t know where places are. Yet having said that there have been many well-documented cases where driver’s common sense should have kicked in and overridden the automated location-finding system before they attempted to circumnavigate a bridle path in their SUV.

Your insurer may pity your foolishness and let you off with a stern telling off should you lodge a claim for damage caused by adhering to the sat-nav directions, however they are perfectly within their rights to discard your claims if they believe you were a victim of your own stupidity.

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