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Test drive insurance

The insurance you need to test drive your new car

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What is test drive insurance?

It’s very easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying a new car, but anyone who knows the trade well will tell you should always take a test drive.

It’s good to think about a test drive as part of the fun, but you need to be serious about how you go about it. For comprehensive insurance cover while you’re out on this trial run, test drive insurance is here to help.

This is a specialised, temporary form of insurance that is separate from the annual policies of both yourself and the car’s current owner. It’s designed to be short term to cover you just for the time you need. Our flexible policies mean you can get test drive insurance whether you’re testing driving a car for one hour or one to two days or more. That’s what makes them ideal for this purpose. 

While there are other ways to get covered on your test drive, this is arguably the easiest option to arrange, and comes with lots of benefits.

Do i need test drive insurance?

Yes, you do need insurance for a test drive. Or anytime you get behind the wheel of a car on public roads, for that matter. But you have several ways of getting insured in this particular scenario.

You could ask the car’s current owner to add you to their existing policy. But this is a long and bureaucratic process, not to mention the charges involved and the fact it could push up their premium. Effectively, there’s a lot of risk in this for them, with only some chance of it paying off.

You could take out a pre-emptive annual policy on the car you want to test, but this could be a costly mistake if the test drive flags up some problems and you don’t feel you can or want to purchase the vehicle.

You could also ask your current insurance provider if they’ll allow you to drive another car as part of your cover, perhaps through a multi-car arrangement. But they may say no, or reduce your level of cover if you do.

With specialised and temporary test drive insurance, there’s less risk involved for everyone. You don’t get locked into anything and you only pay for the cover you need.

Doesn’t my annual insurance cover apply when i’m on a test drive?

It may do, yes. But every insurer sets very different rules, and there’s no guarantees you’re eligible for this. If you only have third party cover, or third party, fire and theft; then you definitely won’t be insured to drive any vehicle other than the one named on your policy.

If you have fully comprehensive, then there’s a chance that you will be. But in most cases, your cover drops to the level of third party when you get in any car other than that listed on your policy, and that could leave you vulnerable.

That’s why the comprehensive cover offered by test drive insurance can be the safe and sensible option.

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What would happen if you got in an accident while on the test drive?

This is exactly the situation that your temporary test drive insurance is here to protect you – and the car’s current owner – in. You’d simply make the claim and pay the premium on the short term policy you took out. The current owner wouldn’t have to claim on their annual policy for any damage, and as such, their no claims discount would be protected.

If you’d risked using your annual comprehensive cover to do the test drive, you may have to pay for repairs to the vehicle if you were at fault, since it’s likely you’ll only receive the third party cover in the instance. You’d also lose your no claims discount.

How long does this type of temporary insurance last?

You can select whatever you think you’ll need, but hourly car insurance and daily car insurance are the most popular policy lengths in this situation.

Can you drive a car home after purchase without having insurance?

Again, no. You can never drive out on the roads without some kind of cover. Fortunately, Tempcover’s drive away insurance is here to help. This tailored kind of policy provides you with cover for as long as you want it – be that a few hours or a couple of weeks – so you can get your car home and start searching for a more permanent arrangement.

What to look out for when test driving a car

It’s important you make the most of and try to enjoy your test drive. But there’s a lot to think about and assess while you’re out there, and you may have as little as 30 minutes to do so.

Whether you like the car’s appearance and how it drives will often come down to personal taste, but there are a few things you should always look out for:

  • Look at the tyres. Are they fresh, or do they look worn and in need of replacement? If the latter is the case, you’ll want to include the cost of new tyres in your decision as to whether you purchase the car.
  • Listen for noises. Keep an ear out for any unusual noises, especially where the engine is concerned. Loud knocks could be the sign of a major problem.
  • Inspect the smoke. If there’s blue smoke coming from the exhaust, this means that the engine is burning oil, whereas white smoke is normal.
  • Check the dashboard. Ensure there’s no warning lights illuminated.
  • Test the acceleration. Experimenting with this should give you a good idea of the health of the engine, and how powerful it is.
  • Get a feel for the steering. See if it works with your driving style, and also take note if there’s any pulling in one direction or delayed reaction times, as these are signs of a problem.
  • Apply the brakes. Make a mental note of their reaction time and stopping distance. Brake pads can always be replaced if worn, but if this is needed, you’ll want to include the cost of this as a factor in whether you buy.

You’ll also want to test the function of things like:

  • Air-con and heating
  • Handbrake
  • Infotainment systems
  • Windscreen wipers
  • Headlights
  • Electric windows
  • Folding seats

There are plenty of other aspects of test driving good practice. You should always get set up properly behind the wheel for your size and posture, as the current set-up of the seats and mirrors may not be suited to you. While on the road, aim to try the car on a variety of routes, from small narrow lanes to large, busy carriageways. And most importantly of all, don’t pay afraid to ask the owner lots of questions

For more advice, take a look at our guide on test driving.

How does test drive insurance work at Tempcover?

When you’re busy thinking about what kind of make, model and trim you’ll go for next, the last thing you need is to be worrying about insurance. At Tempcover, we’re committed to making temporary test drive insurance as straightforward as possible.

All you’ll need to do to begin is provide us with some details about yourself, like your age and occupation, as well as information about the car you’ll be testing.

We quickly compile this to present you with a range of quotes that are tailored to your circumstances, with different products available from our panel of insurers.

Then you just pick whatever suits you best and pay for the policy. You set your start time – approximately whenever you plan on taking the test – and you’re good to go. We email all your documentation to you, so you have proof ready should the car’s current owner ask to see it.

Take the time to make sure the car’s right for you, with temporary car insurance from Tempcover.

We’re also here to help if you decide to buy, and need to drive your big new purchase away.