Written by Graham Cutbill-White
In years gone by, driving other cars was a pretty straightforward process so the answer was usually yes. If you had fully comprehensive car insurance, you could usually drive any other vehicle as long as you had the vehicle owner’s permission.
In recent years, however, things aren’t as simple. Thanks to a rise in car insurance claims*insurers are clamping down on areas that could be considered high risk, including letting you drive other cars.
It’s now very unlikely that you’ll be automatically insured to use another vehicle just because you have comprehensive cover.
According to Tempcover research, almost three in ten of the car owners we spoke to said they were unaware that some comprehensive policies either do not allow you to drive other cars or have restrictions in place.
To find out whether or not you’ll be covered, you should contact your annual insurance provider or look at the small print of your policy documents.
You should be looking for a ‘driving other cars’ or ‘driving other vehicles’ clause within the terms and conditions of your policy.
If it doesn’t specifically mention a D.O.C or D.O.V clause, look for any sections on the terms of your comprehensive cover.
The policy documents will tell you whether or not you can drive other cars and if you can, what restrictions apply.
You should never get behind the wheel of another vehicle without checking the policy wording first.
While there isn’t one specific type of driver who can get cover to drive another vehicle, there are a number of drivers who will find it tough to be accepted.
Young drivers are very unlikely to be allowed to use other cars because they are seen as being high risk. Even if a D.O.C clause exists within your policy documents, you’ll probably find that it excludes drivers under the age of 25.
It’s not just your age that could exclude you from driving someone else’s car.
Many insurers will also restrict drivers with certain occupations from getting this cover because they believe you’ll use other vehicles too often. The most common example is someone working in the motor trade.
Insurers want to limit the level of risk you pose, so if your line of work involves using a lot of other vehicles on a regular basis, you’re unlikely to get cover.
You may also find that you’re blocked from driving another vehicle if you or your partner already own it.
We spoke to over 2000 drivers and around 45% of those admitted that they didn’t know if their annual policy had restrictions regarding driving other cars including 14% that had no idea at all.
These drivers and many more like them could have unwittingly driven other cars without being fully insured.
As you can see, a D.O.C clause can be very restrictive. If you’re lucky enough to pass the age and occupation barriers, the next restriction you’ll find is the level of cover you get if you use someone else’s car.
When it comes to car insurance in the UK, there are 3 levels of cover available.
It’s the most basic type of insurance and means your vehicle is insured third party only, this covers damage to other vehicles (third parties) only.This is the minimum level of cover you are legally required to have.
This means that if you were to have an accident, any costs or damage to the car you were driving would not be covered.
Third party only cover is more suited to drivers whose circumstances mean that comprehensive cover is unobtainable or too expensive.
Don’t expect to walk away with much if you have to make a claim. This level only really exists to protect other drivers.
The next step up in terms of cover is third party, fire and theft. This mainly covers other drivers but you can also claim for damage to your vehicle if it’s stolen or damaged by fire.
The extra cover you get in the result of theft or fire can be reassuring but ultimately, this level of cover is more about paying out for any third parties if you have an accident.
The highest and most common level of cover, fully comprehensive not only covers for damage to third parties but also almost all damage to your vehicle, even if the accident was your fault.
Having comprehensive car insurance means you don’t have the expensive cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
Even if your annual policy is fully comprehensive, it’s likely your cover for driving other vehicles will be third party only.
Insurance companies now only offer the most basic level of cover to reduce fraudulent policies and cut the amount the insurer is forced to pay out if you were to have an accident while driving another car.
With third party only cover, if you cause an accident in someone else’s vehicle, you would be left with the bill for any repairs – something few us can easily afford.
So even if you’re able to use another vehicle under your annual policy, make sure that you’ve considered the cost if the worst should happen.
Unfortunately, because most insurers haven’t actively announced that they’ve stopped offering driving other cars cover, many people could be getting behind the wheel illegally.
If you’ve grown up being able to just hop in any vehicle and drive, you probably won’t think twice about doing it now.
It’s this naivety that could see you end up in a lot of trouble.
A staggering 62% of drivers surveyed assumed they were covered to drive someone else’s car as part of their comprehensive cover, while a further 23% didn’t know either way.
Using a vehicle that you’re not already insured to use, even if you have your own annual policy and have the owner’s permission, is driving without insurance, which as you know is a serious crime.
You will receive an IN10 endorsement on your licence as well as a range of other penalties.
If you’re stopped by the police, the very least you can expect is a fixed penalty notice of £300.
Depending on the severity of the offence and if the case goes to court, you could face an unlimited fine.
Along with a fixed penalty notice, you’re also likely to receive a 6-point penalty. Again, this can increase depending on the offence and you could face up to 8 penalty points on your licence.
These points will stay on your licence for at least 4 years and remember if you get 12 penalty points within 3 years you can be disqualified from driving.
If you are one of the new, young drivers excluded from driving other cars under your annual policy, you could face losing your licence altogether if you’re caught driving without insurance.
Recent changes in the law mean that if new drivers get 6 (the minimum penalty for driving without insurance) or more points on their licence within the 2 years of passing your test, your licence will be cancelled.
While it’s rare for first offenders to have their car seized, if you are caught driving another car without the right insurance multiple times or in serious situations, police can and will impound your car on the spot.
You will then have to purchase specialist impounded car insurance to release the vehicle and pay any other associated fees.
If the vehicle is not reclaimed after a set period, the vehicle could be destroyed.
The penalties for driving someone else’s car without the proper insurance can be extremely serious and will not only affect your wallet but could stop you getting car insurance in the future.
It’s so important to check the specific wording of your policy before you drive any other car.
The police and other authorities simply won’t accept that you just assumed that you could drive another car on your fully comprehensive cover and will penalise you in the same way as any other driver without insurance.
If you plan on using one other particular vehicle regularly throughout the year, you should consider adding your name to the vehicle owner’s policy.
Becoming a named driver on someone else’s policy means that you’re covered to use their vehicle whenever you want.
The cost of being added to a policy depends on your individual circumstances. If you’re a young driver, the vehicle owner can expect to see their premium increase.
You should only become a named driver if you want to use the vehicle throughout the year and remember that if you have an accident while using the vehicle, the car owner will lose their No Claims Discount, something they won’t be too pleased about.
If you only need to use someone else’s vehicle for a day or two, then the time, effort and expense of adjusting an existing policy can be a big waste of time.
For one-off journeys or occasional driving, short term car insurance is the easiest and most affordable way to get legal cover.
Temporary cover lets you borrow a car for a couple of hours (1-12 hours) or daily from 1 to 28 days at a time and unlike a ‘driving other cars’ clause, you get comprehensive cover as standard. This means that the vehicle owner is covered if you have an accident in their car.
It’s also great for young drivers who may be excluded from using other cars by their annual insurer. Short term insurance from Tempcover is open to drivers aged 18 and over so more drivers can get cover with us than with annual providers.
In our research, younger drivers (aged 18-24) were more aware of temporary insurance but short term cover is available to most people aged 18-78.
Temporary policies are all separate, stand-alone policies which means they have no impact on any existing insurance the vehicle owner has.
This will give the person you’re borrowing the car from complete peace of mind as their No Claims Discount won’t be affected while you’re using their car.
Driving other cars is something we all may need to do from time to time but not doing have the right cover can have massive consequences.
For drivers with comprehensive cover, assuming you can drive any car can be dangerous and you could face a range of penalties.
Even if you do have a D.O.C within your policy, always check the small print because you could be breaking the terms and conditions of your policy which could void the policy entirely.
To ensure you’re properly covered with no risk of affecting your existing insurance, temporary car insurance could be the easy, fast and affordable option for you.
Get a quote in minutes and get on the road quicker with Tempcover.