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What invalidates car insurance?

If you give your insurance provider false information – even unintentionally – you could invalidate your policy. Here are some common ways people invalidate their car insurance – and how you can avoid them.

If you give your insurance provider false information – even unintentionally – you could invalidate your policy. Here are some common ways people invalidate their car insurance – and how you can avoid them.

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance expert
Last Updated
2 JULY 2024
5 min read
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What does it mean to invalidate your car insurance?

If you provide false information to your insurance provider when arranging cover, or you fail to update them when your circumstances change, you are effectively breaking the terms of your policy.

If your insurance provider finds out that your details are incorrect, they have the right to declare your insurance policy ‘null and void’. That means you won’t have any valid cover in place and any claim you make could be rejected.

This is called invalidating your car insurance.

What happens if I invalidate my car insurance policy?

Invalidating your car insurance could have serious consequences. There are three important ways that an invalidated car insurance policy could leave you out of pocket and vulnerable.

Your claim could be denied

If your insurance provider decides you’ve given false or inaccurate information, or were driving unsafely, they’re likely to deny your claim. That means you’ll have to pay for any repairs to your car, as well as damage to other vehicles or property. Your insurance provider will also likely cancel your policy.

You could be charged with driving illegally

If you continue to drive with invalidated car insurance, you’ll be breaking the law – even if you’re not aware that the policy is void. It’s illegal to drive on UK roads without at least third-party car insurance in place. If you’re caught, you could face a minimum of six points on your licence and a £300 fine.

If the case goes to court, you could face an unlimited fine and even a driving ban.

It could make it harder to find cover in future

If your insurance policy is cancelled by your provider, you’ll need to declare this fact to any future insurance provider when you take out cover. A cancelled policy is a red flag to insurance providers and could make it harder and more expensive to get cover in the future.

And there’s no statute of limitations on reporting a cancelled policy to a new provider. You’ll have to notify them, no matter how long ago it happened. Failing to disclose it could invalidate your new policy.

Could I accidentally invalidate my car insurance policy?

When you search for a car insurance quote, insurance providers ask questions so they can calculate the risk of you making a claim. They use this information to decide how much to charge you for your insurance.

If you answer any questions untruthfully, perhaps to try to keep costs down, you’re committing fraud. If you make a claim and your insurance provider finds out you were dishonest (and they probably will), your policy will be invalidated.

When getting a quote, always make sure the information you give is accurate and complete to the best of your knowledge.

But invalidated policies can also stem from simple mistakes, like forgetting to tell your insurance provider when your details change. For example, you must tell your provider if you’re moving house, get a new job or get penalty points in your licence.

Your policy documents will usually set out when you need to tell your provider of a change. If in doubt, let them know about the change anyway.

How to avoid invalidating your car insurance

According to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), who help the police investigate uninsured driving, around half of the cases it looked into were down to ‘entirely avoidable human error’.

In many of these cases, the driver was either unaware that their policy had been cancelled, often because of missed payments, or that their policy had expired. However, they reported that 9% of cases of uninsured driving were the result of drivers breaking the terms and conditions of their policy.

Here’s what to be honest and upfront about with your insurance provider when you get a quote, to avoid invalidating your car insurance. And if any of these details change during the time you hold your policy, you’ll need to tell your insurance provider.

Personal details

Your job
What you do for a living affects what you pay for your insurance as some occupations are considered riskier than others. And if you change jobs or have a new job title, you’ll need to tell your insurance provider. If you start using your car for work purposes, you’ll need to tell them that too.

Where you live
Insurance providers look at your postcode and local crime statistics to decide how likely you are to suffer theft or vandalism. If you move and don’t tell your insurance provider, you could invalidate your policy.

Your main address
Using the wrong address on your car insurance could invalidate your policy. If you’re away at university and spend most of your time there, you’ll need to change the main address on your policy, even if you’re still connected to the old address.

Your driving history

Any driving convictions or points on your licence
If you have a history of dangerous driving or speeding, you’re more likely to claim on your car insurance in future. If you forgot to tell your insurance about points, your policy could be void. And driving convictions and points are held on record, so they can be easily checked.

Reporting minor accidents
Even if you don’t want to claim, you should tell your insurance provider about any accident – however minor. If you don’t report damage that’s then noted on a later claim, it can be considered a breach of your policy. It also protects you if you’re in an accident and the other driver makes a claim against you.

Your car

Any modifications you make to your car
If you’ve upgraded your car’s engine or bodywork, it could make your car more expensive to repair. Even a small change, like a new car sound system, could make your car more attractive to thieves.

How you use your car

Where you park overnight
You need to be honest about where your car is generally kept overnight. And you’re not necessarily going to get cheaper insurance by claiming you keep your car in a garage. That’s because larger, modern cars are easily damaged squeezing in and out of garages in older properties.

Don’t be tempted to say you park on a driveway if you park on the road. It’s easy for providers to check if you make a claim.

What you use your car for
There are three different classes of use. You’ll need to tell your insurance provider which one you want to insure your car for. If your policy only covers social, domestic and pleasure use, but you’re involved in an accident on your commute, your claim could be invalid.

Your annual mileage
The more you drive, the more likely you are to have an accident. Be as accurate as you can when calculating your yearly mileage. If you’re hugely off, it may raise a red flag with your insurance provider.

The main driver
Lying about the main driver of a car is a common type of insurance fraud known as fronting. This typically happens when a parent claims they’re the main driver of their child’s car to keep down costs.

Fronting is a criminal offence and you could face prosecution for fraud.

When completing a quote with us, always answer the questions honestly to make sure you get the right policy. If your details change after you’ve bought your policy, let your insurance provider know, even if it doesn’t seem directly relevant.

When do I need to tell my insurance provider about any changes?

You should always think about what might have changed during the previous year when it’s time to renew. But depending on your policy, you may have to let your provider know about changes to your circumstances once your policy has started. This is called a mid-term adjustment.

For example: you pick up a side job delivering takeaways for a local restaurant in your own car. You renewed your comprehensive policy a few months ago and you’re covered to commute to your regular job, so maybe you assume your new job will be covered too… But that’s not the case.

You’re involved in a no-fault accident while out on deliveries and your insurance provider finds out. Your policy doesn’t cover ‘the carriage of goods for hire and reward’ so your insurance provider declares your car insurance void and rejects your claim.

Meanwhile, the police charge you with driving without valid insurance, seize your vehicle and give you a fine and penalty points. You’re left to foot the bill for getting the car released from impound and paying for the repairs to your car. Then, when you go to buy a new policy, you’re quoted higher premiums.

That’s why it’s so important to update your insurance provider about any details that could impact your cover.

What else do I need to do to make sure my car insurance is valid?

  • Keep your car in decent condition and stay on top of maintenance, such as changing the oil and checking your tyre pressure. Make sure you have a valid MOT certificate and pay your road tax on time to avoid breaching your policy.
  • Keep your car safe and secure. If you leave the doors unlocked or your keys in the ignition and your car is then stolen, you probably won’t be able to claim.
  • Make sure anyone who drives your car is insured. Drivers will normally need to be named on the policy to be covered and will need to have the correct driving licence.
  • Drive carefully and safely. When your insurance provider investigates a claim, they’ll want to know that you followed speed limits and the Highway Code.
  • Don’t drink and drive. If you’re found driving over the legal alcohol limit or under the influence of drugs, you won’t be covered and you could be put in prison or given a driving ban.
  • When driving with pets, make sure your four-legged friend is properly secured. You could find your insurance invalidated if your pet was loose in the car and distracted you, causing an accident. Read our car safety checklist.
  • Keep paying your premiums. If you miss payments, your insurance provider could cancel your policy, leaving you driving uninsured illegally.
  • Don’t let your policy lapse. Set a reminder to renew your policy so you don’t forget. Or better yet, set up automated quotes with us and we’ll remind you when it’s time.
Author image Julie Daniels

What our expert says...

“Forgetting to update your car insurance provider is understandable when you’re in the middle of big life changes, like starting a new job or moving home. But the consequences of letting it slip could be serious.

“When it comes to making sure you’re covered – and staying on the right side of the law – being honest and upfront with your insurance provider is key.”

- Julie Daniels, Motor insurance expert

Frequently asked questions

Does no MOT invalidate insurance?

Having a valid MOT certificate is normally a condition of your car insurance, so failing to get one in time could mean invalidating your policy. Check the terms of your policy – they’ll normally state your car must roadworthy, safe and have a valid MOT for the policy to be valid.

Even if it’s not expressly covered under the terms of your policy, it’s against the law to drive without a valid MOT – unless you’re driving your car to a scheduled MOT test or to be repaired. You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle that doesn’t have a valid MOT certificate.

Will it invalidate my policy if someone else drives my car?

Not necessarily, but you should be very careful about who you allow to drive your car. Most policies only cover accidents involving a named driver.

Letting someone else drive your car might not invalidate your policy, but it may mean you can’t claim. If someone else needs to drive your car for a short time, they might want to consider getting temporary car insurance.

If my insurance is cancelled, will my insurance provider give me a refund?

Whether you’ll get a refund depends on your policy and insurance provider. Some providers offer a partial or full refund if they cancel your policy, but it depends on the circumstances and your policy terms.

If you decide to cancel your policy, you may be entitled to a full or partial refund, depending on the terms of your policy and when you cancel. However, you should take into account any cancellation fees that may apply.

If my claim is invalid, will I be able to get insurance in future?

If you make a fraudulent claim, or an insurance provider finds you were dishonest, they can cancel your policy and this could make it much more difficult to get cover in future.

You’ll have to declare this when you shop for a new policy (or risk making the same mistake again). If you’re blacklisted for insurance fraud, some insurance providers may not offer you cover or might charge you higher premiums.

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Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie

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