Don’t assume your car insurance still lets you drive any other vehicle – ABI

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Motor insurance providers are doubling their efforts to remind policyholders that they shouldn’t rely on past assumptions if they’re to remain on the right side of the law when it comes to driving other people’s vehicles.

Not that long ago car insurance providers afforded policyholders the right to get behind the wheel of another person’s car (providing that the car’s rightful owner gave them permission to and that the would-be driver’s policy covered them as fully comprehensive); yet today this is no longer the case, thanks to the imposing of additional (and far-reaching) restrictions which have subsequently come into play.

The Association of British Insurers take on the matter makes for interesting reading, as it underlines the motivating factor behind the historical ‘driving of other cars’ feature which generations of motorists have grown up with. Which was, effectively, given the green light to as a means of covering ‘emergency’ situations rather than everyday ones.

The ABI’s Malcolm Tarling underlined this by saying recently; “If you were taken ill and needed to go to hospital, a friend or neighbour could drive your car to get you there safely.”

car keyThat said, clearly defining the term ‘emergency’ was fraught with problems so insurance providers lifted that particular stipulation, replacing it with alternative restrictions in its place. Speaking to The Telegraph recently, Tarling concluded; “For some drivers it will be a myth. Similarly, motorists should be cautious about who they allow to drive their cars, as they could end up in trouble.”

As with anything motor insurance related, it pays to scrutinise your T’s & C’s before jumping to any long-held assumptions or ill-advised conclusions, otherwise drivers risk finding themselves uninsured. Which of course would have wider ramifications should they be involved in an accident or routinely pulled over by the police.

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Whilst once it was (tantamount to) an unwritten rule that the volunteering driver was granted third party cover when perched behind the wheel of a relative, friend or work colleague’s vehicle – or at least, came as standard with most car coverage – this won’t cut any mustard with the authorities here in 2016, irrespective of your protestations and pleading of ignorance to any revisions.

As motor insurers will quickly testify, the issue of coverage to this particular end boils down to individual underwriters, according to insurance expert at Defaqto, Michael Powell; who went on to explain to The Telegraph that policy providers have since ran out a series of restrictions and exemptions which, essentially, have eradicated previously acknowledged and accepted protection principles for a number of drivers.

Yet it seems not all drivers here in the UK received the memo from their providers (or more specifically, did the necessary homework to establish the newly-defined rules of engagement). Not as the Financial Ombudsman Service tells of handling numerous complaints on a regular basis from policyholders confused over just who is (and more vitally, who isn’t) covered.

And we’re not talking about the smaller insurance providers who, arguably, might not have clarified the situation with their policyholders at the point of purchase, as the FOS speaks of the bigger boys such as Endsleigh, Esure, Axa, Allianz, Admiral, the AA, Swinton, Hastings and LV, all of whom have apparently been referred to the adjudication service in recent times by aggrieved policyholders who considered themselves covered for this ‘car borrowing’ eventuality, yet later materialised as a vision not shared by their insurance provider; and hence the FOS being called in to adjudicate.

Whilst it’s emerged that in some instances the insurer’s sales procedures and/or policy wording were deemed ambiguous or misleading (which some insurers have since rectified), meaning that some complaints were legitimately upheld, in other scenarios the Ombudsman came down on the side of the insurer and threw out cases brought before it.

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