What car insurance do you need to drive any car?

Cover for driving over cars (DOC) used to be a standard feature on comprehensive car insurance policies. However, times have changed and insurance to drive any car now often comes with a catch (e.g. only offering third party only cover when you drive another car).

If you think you need insurance to drive any car, then you may want to look into a more specialist policy that includes DOC cover without any stipulations.

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Picture the scene. Your friend has just splashed out on a new sports car. The exact model you have dreamed of owning for the past few years now. Naturally you don’t begrudge them their acquisition, but there’s little to hold back the envy you feel. Thankfully because they’re a close friend they’ve invited you to ‘have a little go’. Which of course it would be rude not to oblige, so in you hop and off you go.

Alternatively, another scenario (more practical, less glam) might involve you being asked to drive someone else’s vehicle in more of an emergency situation. Well, maybe not an emergency as such. Imagine if your car’s temporarily off the road for some reason and a family member’s got a plane to catch and they ask you to drive them to the airport to save money on taxis and long-stay car parking. Again, it puts you in an awkward position where you feel compelled to accept.

However your generosity (or eagerness to get behind the wheel of your mate’s new sports car) could land you in hot water if you’re not careful. Or rather, are not aware of all the facts about driving other people’s cars.

UK motorists tend to wrongly assume that their existing motor insurance policy allows them to drive another vehicle under third party cover, providing they’ve gained the permission/blessing of the owner beforehand, obviously. Unfortunately the computer says ‘No’. But then they might be forgiven for believing this to be the case because, historically, it once was; and driving other cars (or DOC to afford it its acronym) was part of the fully comprehensive package offered by motor insurers to policyholders in days gone by.

But, as with most things, times change. And nowadays drivers should never simply presume that their comprehensive policy entitles them to drive any old vehicle – or new one for that matter. Motor insurers tightened the existing rules governing this very area a few years back, and subsequently the majority of the UK’s leading car insurance providers seldom offer this feature without a stipulation.

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You’ll nearly always have to specify it too, and you’ll be charged for this extra benefit in your annual premium. In some instances an insurer will temporarily drop your current policy cover down to third party only, regardless of your own fully comp agreement, and until such time as you no longer wish to be covered for another car. But even that’s not the full story, as some insurers are seeking to eliminate the DOC aspect altogether.

Understandably – given the perceived lack of driving experience synonymous within this demographic, coupled with high accident rates – those drivers under the age of 25-years can more or less forget about driving someone else’s vehicle altogether, irrespective of whether you possess fully comprehensive cover or not. If you fall within this age bracket and you’re even so much as contemplating getting at the wheel of another person’s car for whatever reason, then we suggest that you look to add yourself as a named driver on said registered owner/driver’s motor insurance policy, or failing this, arrange to take out temporary insurance cover for the duration of the period you intend driving said vehicle for.

Having said that a few firms don’t play the age card when it comes to DOC, but as with absolutely everything car insurance-wise, it’s imperative that you check both the small print of your policy and the other car owner’s documents before going any further – literally and very much, automotively – carefully scrutinising all wording found in the terms and conditions so as not to fall foul of a certain criteria which renders you culpable in the event of the lender’s vehicle being involved in a prang whilst you’re behind the wheel.

After insurers have dispensed with the age question, then their attentions turn to the subject of your occupation.

If for example the insurer deems your job as being too risky, then you can pretty much kiss goodbye to jumping into a friend or family member’s car for a transient period.

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That said, this applies more to those looking to ‘borrow’ someone else’s car on a more frequent basis, as opposed to a one-off spin.

Staying on the topic your job, and this factor is enforced should the intended temporary driver be employed in the motor industry, which alludes to the driver being regularly jumping from one vehicle to another. Meanwhile, if the vehicle you wish to drive is still owned by a third party (a hire purchaser or lease company chiefly) – despite it being driven by a friend/family member, then many motor insurers won’t entertain the idea of someone else borrowing it (for want of a better word), as that could open up a can of worms in the event of an accident, in terms of ownership, responsibility and ultimate culpability.

Another stipulation which you need to be familiar with – and flagged up by a lot of car insurers – is the question of driving a partner’s vehicle. Cover (unless you’re down as a named driver on their policy) in this particular area is very sketchy and not something we’d advise anyone to rely on as it’s generally got more holes than the holiest cheeses. For the most part you’d find that you weren’t even protected third party, even if you chose to pop out to the shop in your spouse’s car whilst yours was unavailable. And it makes no difference if you’ve got DOC or not in this case, just for the record. The best way of remembering your entitlements (or lack of) in the arena of driving other people’s cars is that this type of cover is now generally viewed as for emergency use only in the eyes of motor insurance providers, and as such isn’t to be used and abused just to get kicks from trying out a friend or family member’s new car. However short the joy ride is. Again, if you’re wanting to extend the driving experience for an indefinite passage of time then our advice would be to get yourself included on the owner’s policy as a named driver to save any heartache/fall-out/bitter resentment and/or retribution at a later date.

Plus it really is a lottery of sorts with reference to just which motor insurer covers you for what, if at all, with respect to DOC. While some UK firms offer comprehensive policies which provide liability extensions to cover policyholders (aged over-25) to drive a car belonging to another individual (permission-accepting and nine times out of ten, third party only), others will categorically refuse to embrace DOC under any conditions. And never lose sight of the underlying fact that it’s against the law to drive a vehicle without appropriate insurance cover, resulting in an IN10 licence endorsement which brings with it 6 – 8 penalty points which remain on your driving license for 4 years. Plus, the legacy of picking up this endorsement will last longer than you might otherwise think, on account of motor insurance providers taking a dim view of would-be policyholders who possess this unsightly blot on their license, effectively increasing insurance premiums considerably. It really is frowned upon by car insurers across the board, so you should avoid the likelihood of receiving one like you would the proverbial plague, by towing the driving other cars (official and revised) line.

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