Things that could invalidate your car insurance

If you give false information to your car insurance provider, whether intentionally or not, you could invalidate your policy. Read our guide to some common, easy-to-miss things that could invalidate your car insurance, to make sure you’re covered if you need to make a claim.

If you give false information to your car insurance provider, whether intentionally or not, you could invalidate your policy. Read our guide to some common, easy-to-miss things that could invalidate your car insurance, to make sure you’re covered if you need to make a claim.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
8
minute read
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Posted 6 JULY 2021

How could you invalidate your car insurance policy?

It’s a nightmare situation – you’ve been involved in a car accident. Luckily, no one was hurt. But your car, and the car you hit, need extensive – and expensive – repairs. Thank heavens you bought the fully comprehensive insurance, you think! 99% of car-insurance claims are paid successfully, but what if your insurance provider says the claim is invalid and won’t pay out? How could that be?

When you look for a quote on a car insurance policy, the questions you’re asked are used by the provider to calculate the risk of you making a claim and to decide what premium to charge you. If you answer untruthfully, perhaps to try and keep costs down, then essentially you’re committing fraud. When you go to make a claim and your insurance provider finds out you were dishonest (and they likely will) then your policy will be invalidated. Leaving you in a sticky situation.

But it’s not always a case of drivers providing false information on purpose. Invalidated policies can stem from simple mistakes, like forgetting to tell your insurance provider when your details change. Take care that the information you disclose throughout the quote is accurate and complete to the best of your knowledge.

What are the top things that could invalidate my car insurance?

If you provide your insurance provider with false information, or fail to tell them when your circumstances change, you risk invalidating your policy.

Here are the top things to be honest and upfront about with your provider, to make sure any claim you make is valid:

  • Your job. What you do for a living is factored into the cost of your insurance premium, so if you change jobs, or get promoted at work and get a new job title, you’ll need to inform your insurance provider. You’ll also need to tell them if you start using your car for work purposes too.
  • Where you live. Insurance providers look at your postcode and local crime statistics to decide how likely you are to be a victim of theft, or vandalism. So, if you change address and don’t tell your provider, you may end up paying an inaccurate premium, and this could invalidate your policy.
  • Your main address. Say if you’re away at university and spending most of your time there, or you move in with your partner – you’ll need to change the main address on your policy, even if you’re still connected to the previous address.
  • Any changes or modifications you make to your car. If you’re planning to make any modifications to your car, you’ll need to contact your insurance provider so they can factor these changes into the cost of your premium. Extensive body work or upgrading the engine could make your car much more expensive to repair. But even small changes like a fancy new paint job could make your car more enticing to thieves and needs to be declared.
  • Any points on your licence or driving convictions. If you have a history of dangerous or reckless driving or speeding then you’re more likely to make a claim on your car insurance in the future, and insurance providers will need to factor this in. There’s no way you’ll get away with lying about this, as driving convictions and points on your licence are a matter of public record.
  • Where you park your car. Where you park your car overnight can make a big difference to the cost of your insurance. So, if you falsely claim that you keep your car in a locked private garage, and it’s stolen from a busy main street, your claim clearly won’t be valid.
  • How you use your car. Insurance providers will usually put you in one of the following three categories when you look for a quote, depending on how you use your car:
    • Social: you use your car for pleasure and leisure only, for example to meet friends or go shopping.
    • Social and commuting: as well as using your car for social activities you also use it commute into your regular workplace or to a station as part of your commute – even if it’s only occasional.
    • Business: you use your car at work, perhaps to visit clients or drive between job sites, or to make sales. Bear in mind that business use normally doesn’t cover charging for lifts – for that you’ll need specialist taxi car insurance.
  • Your annual mileage. It makes sense that the more you drive, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. Be as accurate and honest as you can be when calculating your annual mileage, as if being off by several hundred miles will raise a red flag with your insurance provider.
  • The main driver. Lying about who is the main driver of a car is a common type of insurance fraud, which is known as fronting. It’s normally a parent putting themselves down as the main driver of their child’s car to keep costs down. If you lie about who the main driver of the car is to insure a less experienced motorist, and the named ‘secondary driver’ causes a crash, it’s likely you’ll be found out when your insurance provider investigates. Fronting is a criminal offence so you could be taken to court, where you could face a fine up to £5,000 and 6 points on your licence.
  • Reporting minor accidents. Even if you don’t want to make a claim, it’s important to report any bumps or accidents to your insurance provider, even if it only causes minor cosmetic damage. If you fail to report any damage that’s noted on a later claim, it can be counted as a breach of your policy. Plus, it covers you in case anyone else involved in an incident decides they want to pursue a claim.

How else can I avoid invalidating my car insurance?

When you’re completing a quote with us, always answer all the questions honestly to make sure you get the right policy. If any of your details change during the life of your policy, contact your insurance provider to let them know, even if it doesn’t seem directly relevant.

When it comes time to renew your policy, think hard about what might have changed during the previous year. And, as always, make sure you read the terms and conditions of your policy carefully, so you know exactly what’s covered and what isn’t.

To avoid invalidating your insurance policy, you’ll also need to keep your car in decent condition and stay up to date with regular maintenance work – like oil changes 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.

You’ll also need to make sure you keep your car safe and secure. If you leave your keys in the ignition or the doors unlocked and your car is stolen, you won’t be able to claim.

And last but certainly not least, it’s your responsibility to always drive carefully and safely. When your insurance provider investigates any claim, they’ll be looking to make sure that you are following speed limits and obeying all traffic rules. That includes:

  • no use of your smartphone, smartwatch or similar device while driving
  • no applying make-up at traffic lights
  • no eating at the wheel
  • if you’re driving with pets making sure your four-legged friend is properly secured and won’t distract you
  • removing any obstructions from your windscreen that could impact on your ability to see the road – including frost, dirt, snow, or big fuzzy dice hanging from your rear-view mirror
  • making sure all passengers are secured by their own seatbelt and that the car isn’t overloaded
  • being careful not to drive under the influence of prescription drugs that could make you drowsy
  • making sure your vision is up to scratch, or that you’re wearing any prescription glasses or contacts

Read our car safety checklist

Frequently asked questions

What happens if I invalidate my car insurance policy?

Firstly, if you have an accident and your insurance provider finds out you have given false or inaccurate information – or deems that you were driving unsafely – they will likely deny your insurance claim. That means you’ll have to pay for any repairs to your car, and for any damage caused to other vehicles, or property, and your insurance provider will likely cancel your policy.

If you continue to drive with invalid car insurance, then you’ll be breaking the law. It’s illegal to drive on UK roads without at least third-party cover in place. If caught, you face 6 points on your licence and a £300 fine as a minimum.

Will it invalidate my policy if an unnamed driver drives my car?

Not necessarily, but you should be extremely careful about who you let drive your car. Car insurance typically only covers accidents involving a named driver. Even if the unnamed driver has their own car insurance that lets them drive other people’s cars, it’s normally only third-party cover so it won’t cover any damage to your vehicle. So, although it may not invalidate your policy, any claim you make is likely to be void.

If my insurance is cancelled, can I expect a refund from my insurance provider?

It depends on your insurance policy and provider. Some insurance providers will offer a partial or full refund of your premium if they choose to cancel your policy, but it depends on the circumstances and the terms of your policy.

Find out more about car insurance cancellation fees

If I make an invalid insurance claim, will it affect my chances of getting insurance in the future?

If you make a fraudulent insurance claim, or an insurance provider finds out you were dishonest about your circumstances or failed to update them, then they can cancel your policy.

If this happens, you’ll have to declare it when shopping around for a new policy (or risk making the same mistake all over again). If you’ve been blacklisted because of insurance fraud, you might find that some insurance providers won’t want to offer you cover, or that they’ll charge you higher premiums as a result. So, it’s important to avoid anything that could invalidate your policy.

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