How your insurance policy could be invalidated
In our current climate of economic austerity, some motorists are tempted to misrepresent motor insurance details to save money. This is one of many behaviours this guide details below which give insurers the option to invoke policy clauses invalidating your cover.
• ‘Fronting’ is insuring a vehicle in the name of someone who is not the main driver, in order to secure a cheaper premium. This is fraud and provides good legal grounds for the insurer to cancel your policy and/or refuse your claim.
• Driving without a valid driving licence can invalidate your cover. Policies stipulate that any driver covered must have a current valid licence.
• Driving without glasses, where these are necessary to guarantee normal vision, can easily invalidate cover. This is also a motoring offence because it invalidates your driving licence.
• Non-disclosure of poor health, disabilities or infirmities can render your insurance null and void. Health questions are specifically asked before you take out insurance, and apply to all drivers. It can be difficult if you become ill, or otherwise unfit to drive, during the policy term. Technically, this would still invalidate your insurance if you failed to disclose the new information.
• Driving under the influence of drink or drugs can cause insurance problems. Putting aside the legal consequences, some insurers have attempted to exclude, or refuse, claims where drivers have exceeded the ‘legal limits’. Other insurers decide whether to accept or reject claims in such circumstances on a case by case basis.
• Failure to disclose previous accidents and convictions gains you a cheaper premium. However, checks are made if a claim arises and, when it comes to light that the original information was false, your policy can be invalidated.
• Using your car to commute, or for business purposes, can invalidate your cover if you indicated at the outset that your car would only be used for ‘social, domestic and pleasure purposes’. Wider use can easily be covered, but costs more. Your certificate of motor insurance stipulates the types of use covered, so you could end up in trouble with the police too. Also take car with commuting cover – if you drive while at work, for example, that is mostly considered ‘business use’, not commuting.
• Hiring out your car, even with you as driver, is not covered under your policy – unless you have specifically asked for this cover. Sharing car costs on the daily commute is often acceptable but should be checked with your insurer. If you profit from the arrangement, this could be considered hiring.
• Use for rallying, racing, off road events, and similar pursuits, is also excluded under your motor insurance, unless the policy has been specifically extended. Once again, this exclusion appears on motor insurance certificates so, effectively, you would be driving without cover.
• Extra mileage, well in excess of the annual mileage disclosed, will give insurers cause to reject your claim. It is understood that an annual mileage is an estimate. However, gross underestimates to get cheaper insurance are likely to be penalised if discovered.
• ‘Driving other cars’ cover is offered by some insurers, but is not automatically included on all policies. If your own car has been sold, or damaged beyond economic repair, most policies will not allow the ‘driving other cars’ benefit to continue. Thus, you would be driving uninsured.
• Giving a false address to get a cheaper premium, or claiming your car is normally garaged when you actually park in the street, can also lead to policy cancellation and/or refusal of claims.
• Failing to disclose a change of occupation, or giving a false occupation on your original application, can invalidate your insurance. Some careers are a greater ‘risk’ than others, from an insurer’s point of view. In some cases, had they originally known the ‘correct’ information, cover may not even have been offered.
• Vehicle modifications which are not disclosed give an insurer grounds to invalidate cover. Even minor modifications, such as altering badges, are risky.
• Driving a car lacking a current MOT certificate will invalidate cover under some insurance policies. In all cases, claims can be refused if your car is not deemed to be maintained in ‘roadworthy condition’. This includes bodywork and tyres.
• Overloading your vehicle, with passengers or goods, can invalidate your insurance and lead to rejection of claims.
• Events such as leaving your car parked with a window open, or unlocked, or with keys in the ignition when unattended, are all covered by exclusion clauses in most insurance policies. Thus your claim is likely to be rejected.
• Failure to notify the police about theft, or attempted theft, from your car, or any malicious damage, can invalidate any subsequent claim. You must also obtain a crime reference number to comply with policy conditions.
• Failure to report an accident to your insurers can lead to them refusing liability if/when the event subsequently comes to light.
• Admitting liability for an accident, offering payments or agreeing to settle another person’s costs, are all actions which can potentially invalidate your insurance. Your policy stipulates that only your insurer has the right to make such commitments – effectively, they have a legal right to act ‘in your name’ in matters concerning liability.
• If you pay your premium by instalments, and there are instalments overdue, this gives your insurer grounds to refuse to meet claims under the policy.
Giving incorrect information to get a cheap premium, or operating outside your policy conditions, is always a false economy. Essentially, you risk invalidating your cover, leaving you just as unprotected as if you had never taken out insurance at all.