What will invalidate your car insurance? The complete list for 2018

With average premiums at their highest, chances are you’re forking out more than ever before for your car insurance. It’s a legal essential if you own a car and it can save you £thousands if you do need to make a claim. But could you be unwittingly nullifying your car insurance? Every year, 43,000 vehicle insurance claims are rejected according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI). That leaves drivers seriously out of pocket because of little mistakes that many of us are guilty of every day. Now, you can drive smart with our complete list of what could invalidate your car insurance in 2018:

1) First, take the right step with your choice of footwear

Did you know that wearing ‘inappropriate’ footwear could invalidate your insurance and lead to a claim being rejected? Whilst it’s not actually illegal to drive in flip flops, platform shoes or barefoot, you do have to be able to prove that your choice of footwear allows you to operate the car controls safely.

According to the Driving Standards Agency, “suitable shoes are particularly important behind the wheel. We would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on.” Rule 97 of The Highway Code also states further that you must ensure: “clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner.”

Do it today:

  • You don’t need to chuck out your heels. Inside invest in a pair of sensible driving shoes. You could even keep these in your car, so you’re never caught out needing to drive in heels, flip-flops, wellies or any footwear that could affect your ability to drive.

2) Secondly, think about items hanging from windscreen or mirror

Did you know that having something hanging from your rear view mirror can invalidate your insurance? Your insurer can reject a claim if they feel that an accident was caused because and items suspended from the mirror or hanging in your windscreen affected your line of vision or caused a distraction.

Do it today:

  • Remove any items hanging from your mirror. You could always hand them somewhere else in your car, or switch to an air freshener that clips to your air vent instead.

 

3) Pets on the loose can lose you cash

If you use your car to transport your pooch or other furry friends, they need to be properly secured. If not, your claim can be rejected because it could be considered that your pet caused a distraction, and that led to your accident. You can also face a hefty £5,000 fine too. According to The Dogs Trust, 48% of dog owners are breaking the law by failing to restrain their dog in their car properly.

Do it today:

  • Buy a dog guard or dog crate to ensure your dog is properly restrained in the back of your car.
  • If you prefer to travel with your pet on the back seat, use a dog harness to secure your dog to the seat belt.

4) What about failing to declare modifications?

It may be fairly obvious that you’ll need to declare any modifications that make your car go faster or worth more money. But these are not the only modifications that you need to tell your insurer about. If you don’t declare all changes that you have made, your insurance could be invalidated. Modifications you may not have thought you’ll need to declare:

  • Post factory fitted tow bar.
  • Stickers. We’re not talking about your National Trust sticker here, but any stickers that express a point of view that could leave you open to becoming the target of vandals should be noted.
  • Wraps or non-standard paint jobs should be declared as these could make your vehicle more attractive to thieves.

Do it today:

  • Discover the top 10 modifications that will increase your car insurance here including how much more they will add to your insurance bill.

5) Forgetting to lock your car could cost you big

Whether you’re rushing to the office for a meeting or you’re juggling hands full of shopping with some overtired kids, it can be easy to forget to lock your car. Whilst most insurance policies cover you if your car is stolen, in many cases, you won’t be covered if you left the keys in the door or in the ignition.

 

Do it today:

  • Read through this guidance from The Financial Ombudsmen on if/when your insurer should still cough up, even if you’ve left your keys in the ignition.

6) Don’t forget to renew your MOT and tax

No matter how much you’ve spent on fully comprehensive car insurance, it won’t be valid if you’ve allowed your car tax or MOT to slip.

Do it today:

  • Check if you have a valid MOT for your vehicle here. Before you start, you’ll need your vehicle make and registration number (the letters and digits on the number plate), so make sure these are close to hand.
  • Sign up for free text or email reminders that your MOT is due here. Before you start, you’ll need to have an email address or mobile phone and you need your vehicle’s registration number, so make sure you have those handy.
  • Check if your car is currently taxed here. You’ll need your car registration number to do this.
  • Setting up a direct debit payment for your vehicle tax means it will be automatically renewed. You won’t need to remember when it is due. Sign up here

7) Next, think about keeping your car properly maintained

You are obliged to keep your car in a roadworthy condition at all times. If you do not carry out required maintenance as soon as it is needed, your car insurance can be voided.

Do it today:

  • The Which? Trusted Trader scheme can be a good place to start if you’re looking for a reliable garage.
  • Ring around for a couple of quotes to make sure you’re getting the best price for the work to be carried out. Ask the garages the following questions first to make sure you’re getting what you expect for the money:
  • Does the quoted price for work include VAT?
  • Will it use your car manufacturer’s original parts or those of ‘equivalent quality’?

8) Lending your car to family or friends

Your vehicle is only insured for the people specifically named on the policy to drive. Friends and family may have insurance that allows them to drive other vehicles, but this is normally only third-party cover. That means if they are driving your vehicle and have an accident, your insurer will not pay out for any damage to your vehicle. – their insurance needs to cover them to drive any vehicle. Only named drivers can drive your car

Do it today:

  • Check your insurance policy to see who is named as a driver for your insurance
  • It may be possible to add an additional driver to your insurance for short periods of time, such as a day or a week. Speak to your broker for more details.

9) Under-estimated mileage can lead you down the wrong road

If you have opted for a caped mileage policy you need to be certain you won’t go substantially over the limit you have selected. If you make a claim, your insurance company will look at records on the MOT etc, to check that you have not exceeded the miles you claim. Around 27% of drivers admit to just guessing their annual mileage. But if you do drive more than you said you would, insurers can reject the claim.

Do it today:

  • Accurately estimate your annual mileage by looking at your last two MOT certificates. Here you’ll find the number of miles displaying on your car odometer. Calculate the difference between the two amounts to see how far you drove during that year.
  • You could use a mileage calculator like this one to work out how many miles you’re likely to travel.
  • Not sure how far your regular journeys are? Use Google Maps to discover the precise distance between your home and place of work.

10) Next, failing to change your details if you change jobs

Your job title is one of the factors used to calculate your premium. If you change job, you need to let your insurance company know. Similarly, if you change your job, it could mean you need to drive further to get to your place of work.

Do it today:

  • Use this handy tool from MoneySavingExpert.com to find out what difference your job title could make to your insurance.

11) Bending the truth is a dangerous game

With insurance costs at a record high, it could be tempting to bend the truth a little when you ask for a quote. Unfortunately, if the information you provide when you take out your insurance isn’t 100% accurate, your insurance will be invalidated. Make sure you mention any incidents that your vehicle has been involved in including small bumps. Your broker or insurer will advise if these incidents do not need to be recorded. If you do make a claim in the future, and there is other damage to your vehicle that you have not declared when taking out your policy, your claim could be rejected. You’ll also need to own up to any penalty points on your licence but don’t forget that penalty points only stay valid for a limited period!

Do it today:

  • Go back through your insurance documents to see if you have accidentally (or accidentally on purpose) given inaccurate information. If there is anything that doesn’t ring true, speak to your insurance company right away. If you’re not sure what something means, take a look at this jargon buster from The AA so you are clear.
  • Click here to view what, if any, penalty points you currently have on your licence. To do this you’ll need your driving licence number, your National Insurance number and the postcode of your driving licence, so make sure you have these handy.

12) Be up-front to avoid fronting

You might think it won’t hurt to pretend to be the main driver, when in fact it is your teenage son’ or daughter’s car. But it will. This is called fronting, and it’s illegal. Don’t assume that the insurance company will never know. They can use all sorts of things, including social media, to discover the truth. If they suspect a case of fronting, they will investigate further. And if you’re found guilty, your insurance will not only be invalidated, but you both can face prosecution for fraud which will lead to a criminal record. Your child will be considered to be driving without insurance and the penalties for this are harsh. It means points on their licence that could even result in a total ban. And all this can make getting insurance in the future even more difficult and expensive.

Do it today:

  • Look for other ways to save money on car insurance for inexperienced drivers, such as telematics or by shopping around for a better price.

13) Finally, think about where you’re driving

Standard car insurance won’t cover you everywhere, for example if you decide to drive your vehicle on a racetrack or use it for competitive motorsports.

Do it today:

  • If you’ll be using your vehicle in any non-standard locations or for special events, speak to your broker. For example, you can buy additional specialist track day cover or competition insurance that will ensure your vehicle is still insured.

Saving you money and hassle

Make sure you don’t have a nasty shock in store if you do need to make a claim. Read your car insurance policy booklet thoroughly or talk your cover through with your broker so you know exactly what is and isn’t allowed. Finally, follow the steps above today. All it takes is a few minutes reading to make sure your insurance is valid every time you drive.