How Can Car Insurance Become Void or Invalid?
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Legally, all motorists are required to have a car insurance policy in place, but sometimes, even those that have insurance may not be covered as a result of their own mistakes.
There are many things that can invalidate your car insurance, some of which you’ve probably done previously without realising the possible consequences.
From providing false information, whether it was by accident or purposefully, to driving in flip flops and high-heels, there are many ways your car insurance can become invalid or void.
What does ‘void car insurance’ mean?
When a car insurance provider makes your car insurance void after an accident, it means that your policy is treated as if it was never taken out – so you receive no payout if you’re involved in an accident and want to claim.
What can invalidate your car insurance? It usually happens if you provided false or inaccurate information to the provider when you applied for the policy, if you’ve broken certain motoring rules, or if certain policy terms don’t cover your situation.
Does having no MOT invalidate insurance?
If you don’t have an up-to-date MOT certificate, not only could you receive a fine of up to £1,000, but you could also invalidate your car insurance.
An annual MOT check is not optional – you must have it to remain on the road safely.
Does no car tax invalidate insurance?
Regardless of how much you’ve spent on comprehensive cover, your car insurance is likely to be void if you have no car tax in place.
You can avoid allowing your car tax to expire in many ways, such as setting up free text or email reminders, or even a direct debit payment so that it is renewed automatically.
Driving in flip flops
Driving in flip flops in the UK is not explicitly noted as being illegal in itself, but the Highway Code states that, as a driver, you must have “footwear and clothing which does not prevent you using controls in the correct manner”.
Flip flops and high-heels are not safe to wear while driving, because they can cause you to drive carelessly and may therefore lead to your provider invalidating your insurance if an accident should occur.
The footwear you should drive in…
Shouldn’t limit ankle movement
Must be narrow enough to avoid pushing two pedals at the same time accidentally
Shouldn’t be too heavy
Must have grip to provide accidental slips
Should have a sole no thicker than 10mm
If your footwear at the time of an accident doesn’t abide by the sensible guidelines, you risk invalidating your insurance.
Is your commute covered?
Car insurance covers three different types of usage:
Social only: for general day-to-day leisure
Social and commuting: leisure usage AND travelling to and from work
Business: work purposes outside of commuting (going to meetings etc.)
If you are covered for social only, then your car insurance will be void if you are involved in an accident while travelling to or from work.
Even if you drive to the train station and then hop on a train to work, social and commuting is still required.
Upgrading from social only to social and commuting is certainly worth the added price, regardless of how often you commute.
Whatever your situation, avoid your policy becoming invalid by ensuring that your car insurance covers your specific needs and all possible eventualities.
Driving with dogs, cats, and other pets
Driving with your dog or any other pet in the car is absolutely fine IF they are properly restrained or secured.
Unrestrained pets can be a distraction to the driver and, should it lead to an accident, your car insurance is likely to become invalid.
It’s the responsibility of the driver to restrain and secure pets so that they are safe and do not cause a distraction, and there are many pet-friendly ways to do so nowadays.
You can choose from a boot box or cage, pet guard, pet carrier, specific car harness, seat restraint, or seat-belt attachment; they’ll all show the insurer that you have gone out of your way to secure your pet, and that it had nothing to do with the cause of the accident.
It’ll also help keep your furry friend safe if you are involved in an accident!
Letting other people drive your car
If you let someone else drive your car, and they’re not insured, there’s no doubt that you risk invalidating your car insurance.
Your friends or family members may have insurance policies that mean they’re legally allowed to drive other people’s cars, but these policies are unlikely to cover any damages if there was an accident.
Making money from giving people lifts
Your car insurance could be void if you charge people for lifts and make a profit from it, rather than just covering petrol costs.
This is because you’re then technically considered a type of “taxi hire service”, which you’d need to cover specifically within your policy.
It’s also worth knowing that certain car insurance policies in the UK will exclude car sharing – whether you’re making money from giving lifts or not.
Does a wrong address invalidate car insurance?
Because car insurance can be more expensive for those living in areas with a higher crime rate, some people tend to lie about their address on their policy application.
For example, some people might note their address as their parents’ or their girlfriend’s, rather than their own, in order to avoid higher premiums that come with certain areas in the UK.
While you might get away with this for a month or two, almost all car insurance companies have an investigative team whose job it is to look into whether the information listed on their policyholders’ policies are correct.
Either that, or it’ll be discovered when you make a claim. Your car insurance will then become void or invalid, meaning that you won’t receive any sort of payout and your premiums will go to waste.
What is fronting and how can it invalidate your insurance?
Fronting is done by many people in the UK, and most that do so aren’t aware that it’s illegal.
Fronting is when motorists list a low-risk person as the main driver of a policy, rather than the person who uses the car the most, in order to get a cheaper premium.
For example, this could happen when a parent is listed as the ‘main driver’ and their child is put down as the ‘named driver’, despite the child being the primary user of the vehicle.
People do this because certain groups of people, mainly older people, are offered cheaper premiums than those who are younger, new to driving and aged under-25.
Read our article Car Insurance Fronting: Are You Breaking the Law? For more information.
Going over the annual mileage in your policy
When you take out insurance, you’re always asked about your annual mileage – how far you travel in the car on average every year – because it can help determine the cost of your premiums.
If you under-estimate or miscalculate this amount, it’s possible that your car insurance provider will void your policy and refuse to pay out if you make a claim.
It is also worth checking if you are covered by your car insurance company if you're planning on driving abroad in case there are any limitations in place within your policy.
Car insurance void after an accident
If you feel your car insurance has been unfairly made invalid or void by your provider after an accident, there are ways to dispute it.
Firstly, you should check your policy documents to check your rights and whether or not there are any exclusions that you missed when you initially took out the policy.
Terms vary between each car insurance policy, so be sure not to assume that you’re covered for everything without checking first.
If you can’t figure out why your claim has been refused and the claim dismissal doesn’t note it, you should contact your provider and ask them for more details.
If you’re dissatisfied, you’re then able to formally complain through the company themselves. Should you fail to get very far dealing with the provider directly, the next step would be to seek help from the Financial Ombudsman Service.
The Financial Ombudsman Service can then begin a formal investigation into your claim if they believe you have a genuine case. Their final decision is legally binding, meaning that it must stand.
There are also many myths that circulate, including the fact that a red weather warning could void your car insurance - see our articles for the truth.
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