Car-sharing and insurance – make sure you don’t get caught out by any nasty surprises

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You might have seen the BBC sitcom, ‘Peter Kay’s Car Share’ and been inspired by the comedic subject matter (and the fact that you could get to know your work colleague a whole lot better being in their close proximity for the duration of the daily commute), or alternatively you may just find yourself motivated to reduce your carbon footprint.

Or, as is more than likely, the ever-increasing cost of motoring may have prompted you to share the costs/financial burden with people you don’t mind being cooped up in a car with for what could be a few hours every day.

Either way, the relatively harmless act of car-sharing has come back under the spotlight once again recently as not enough of us motorists appreciate that we could risk invalidating our car insurance policies by offering regular lifts to (not so complete) strangers.

Car sharing

Peter Kay’s Car Share – bbc.co.uk

Whether it’s making the eternal drudgery of the daily commute that much more enjoyable for both parties or volunteering to share your ride for longer journeys as opposed to taking more than one vehicle on a planned sojourn with friends, there’s no doubt about it, car-sharing is rapidly growing in popularity. Unless that it you’re resolutely antisocial when it comes to caring and sharing.

Car-sharing has been ‘a thing’ for a respectable amount of time on the continent, yet here in the UK (where admittedly we tend to be slightly more reserved/less likely to accommodate others quite so quickly) it’s only gained momentum of late.

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All of which is applaudable on many levels, however the outstanding question is, just how many open-minded drivers know exactly where they stand on the topic with their motor insurance providers?

A review of the whole car-sharing situation was recently carried out by a leading British-based insurance aggregator, which went to the trouble of putting some 230 car policies under the microscope to establish who covered car-sharing features and who didn’t. Without naming names, it was subsequently discovered that 1 in 10 DON’T extend existing car cover to take into account the risk of shuttling other passengers to and fro as part of a professional (and signed-up to) lift-sharing arrangement.

Which is a bit of a worry. In fact, 9% of policies made a point of specifically EXCLUDING car-sharing provisions.

Furthermore, the car insurance comparison website’s findings also highlighted the fact that those drivers who do give work colleagues a lift on a regular basis aren’t allowed to make a profit from their venture (i.e, charge passengers for the door-to-door service like a taxi cab).  Although it is permissible to ask for some cash to cover your fuel costs and general wear and tear of the vehicle.

Anything more than that though and insurers warn that they’d be perfectly within their rights to class the lift-share as a glorified taxi service, which is a whole different ball game.

Whichever way we choose to look at it, one thing is for certain; and that’s the car-sharing phenomenon is here to stay as testified to by the surge of dedicated websites which both offer and source lifts for willing participants in what years ago might have been seen as nothing more resourceful than a social experiment.

But times have changed, and as we alluded to at the top a multitude of reasons might have led commuters to make the shift. But, and something that can’t be stressed enough, before signing-up to use your vehicle in a mutually convenient manner be sure to speak with your existing motor insurance policy provider first to ascertain if you’re legally covered to do this.

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Failure to do this could easily result in your policy being rendered null and void. Even more pressing would be the matter of refusing to pay-out in the event of an accident occurring which saw a passenger sustaining an injury which later they claimed on the driver’s insurance cover.

From an official viewpoint, the ABI states that it is; ‘supportive of car-sharing platforms’ generally, yet can’t obviously speak on behalf of individual insurance providers who might not be so welcoming of the concept. Which is why they urge insured parties to refer to the T’s & C’s of their car insurance documentation prior to going down that particular route.

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