What could invalidate your 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.

Alex Hasty
Insurance expert
minute read
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Last Updated 28 SEPTEMBER 2022

Could I accidentally invalidate my 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 one you hit need extensive – and expensive – repairs. Thank heavens you bought fully comprehensive insurance, you think.  

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

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

But drivers don’t always provide false information on purpose. Invalidated policies can stem from simple mistakes, like forgetting to tell your insurance provider when your details change.  

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

How to avoid invalidating your car insurance

Here’s what to be honest and upfront about with your insurance provider: 

  • Your job When calculating your premium, insurance providers factor in what you do for a living – and some occupations are considered riskier than others. So if you change jobs, are promoted, or have a new job title, you’ll need to tell your insurance provider. You’ll also need to tell them if you start using your car for work purposes. 
  • Where you live Insurance providers look at your postcode and local crime statistics to decide how likely you are to suffer theft or vandalism. So if you move house and don’t tell your insurance provider, you may end up paying an inaccurate premium, which could invalidate your policy.
  • Your main address Say you’re away at university and spend 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 old address. 
  • Any changes or modifications you make to your car If you’re planning to modify your car, you’ll need to tell your insurance provider so they can factor these changes into your premium. Upgrading the engine or body work could make your car more expensive to repair. 

    Even a small change, like a fancy new paint job or a new car sound system could make your car more attractive to thieves. That’s why it needs to be declared.
  • 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. There’s no way you’ll get away with lying about this, as driving convictions and points are on record.
  • Where you park your car Where you park overnight can make a big difference to your insurance premium. If you falsely claim to keep your car in a locked private garage and it’s stolen from a busy main street, your claim may not be valid.
  • How you use your car When you look for a quote, insurance providers usually place you in one of three categories, depending on how you use your car:
    • Social: you use your car for pleasure and leisure, say, to meet friends or go shopping.
    • Social and commuting: as well as using your car for social activities, you use it commute into work, or to a station as part of your commute – even if it’s only occasional.
    • Business: you use your car for work, perhaps to visit clients, drive between sites or to make sales. Bear in mind that business use doesn’t cover charging for lifts – for that you’ll need taxi insurance
  •  Your annual mileage It follows that the more you drive, the more likely you are to have an accident. Be as accurate and honest as you can when calculating your annual 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 costs down. If you lie about being the main driver to insure a less experienced motorist, and the ‘secondary driver’ causes a crash, you’re likely to be found out when your insurance provider investigates. Fronting is a criminal offence and you could face prosecution for fraud.
  • Reporting minor accidents Even if you don’t want to make a claim, it’s important to tell your insurance provider about any bumps or accidents. If you don’t report any damage that’s then noted on a later claim, it can be considered a breach of your policy. It also means you’ll be covered if you’re in an accident and the other driver makes a claim against you. 

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.  

And as always, carefully read your policy’s terms and conditions so you know what’s covered and what isn’t.

What else do I need to do to make sure my 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. 
  • 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.  
  • When driving with pets, make sure your four-legged friend is properly secured. You could find your insurance invalidated if your pet was wandering about the car and distracted you, causing an accident. Read our car safety checklist.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if I invalidate my car insurance policy?

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. 

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

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

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

Even if the driver has their own policy that lets them drive other people’s cars, this is normally only third-party cover, which won’t cover damage to your vehicle. 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. 

Find out more about car insurance cancellation fees.

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

It might be very difficult. If you make a fraudulent claim, or an insurance provider finds you were dishonest, they can cancel your policy. 

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. That’s why it’s so important to avoid doing anything that could invalidate your policy.

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