For years, drivers who have fully comprehensive insurance have hopped in and out of each others’ cars at will in the belief that they’ll be covered by default.
But rules have been tightened a lot in recent years and now most drivers won’t be covered to drive other cars by default, even if both they and a friend are fully comprehensive with their cover.
Driving without valid insurance will land you at least a £300 fine and six penalty points, with unlimited fines and disqualification an option if you’re taken to court.
It used to be the case that cover for driving other cars (DOC) was included by most insurers on comprehensive car insurance policies.
Typically, this gave you third-party cover to drive cars not listed on your policy. But increasingly, many comprehensive policies do not offer this benefit without a catch.
You’ll often have to request it, and pay for it as an extra. Many drivers believe that you can jump in someone else’s car and be covered third party by your own insurance policy.
Provided, that is, that you’re fully comp on yours and you have the owner’s permission. But there are strict stipulations for this, and now some insurers are doing away with the driving-other-cars (DOC) benefit altogether.
For a start, DOC is only supposed to be used in an emergency – so it’s not intended for those who are popping out for a spin. And if you’re under 25, you can pretty much rule out driving other cars altogether, even if you have comprehensive cover.
Also don’t assume that as soon as you hit 25 you’ll automatically have DOC. You’ll need to call up your insurer and ask them to add it, and there could be a fee for that.
Some insurers only include it on the renewal after your 25th birthday.
This is because most insurers exclude anyone who falls within the “young driver” age range. If you’re under 25 and want to drive someone else’s car, your best bet would be to either get added as a named driver on their policy or take out temporary cover.
There are a few companies who don’t place an age restriction on the benefit, so you might be lucky.
The second most common stipulation is occupation, and insurers reserve the right to refuse cover if your job is deemed to be too risky.
These are usually jobs where the policyholder is more likely to be driving other cars. For this reason, many jobs in the motor industry will often be excluded from this cover.
You’ll need to check with your insurer for clarification. For example, some insurers state that the car you are borrowing should not be “owned by (or hired under a hire purchase agreement by or leased to) you or your partner”.
What this means is that it will not cover you to drive your partner or spouse’s car third party. For example, if your own car is in the garage and you thought to nip out in your partner’s car, you wouldn’t be covered, even if you have DOC. It’s common that the other car must not be hired, but that this also applies to the policyholder’s partner as well is unusual, and could catch many drivers out.
The bottom line is to check the precise conditions for driving other cars with your insurer. Otherwise, the outcome could end up costing you a packet.