Car insurance is a legal requirement, and if you don’t have it or make a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) declaration then you could be faced with anything from a fine to imprisonment. But that’s not the main reason that people buy car insurance – we normally buy it because the cost of having an accident and having to pay for repairs is often very expensive, and if someone is injured and seeks compensation then the cost would increase exponentially.
Yes, we buy car insurance in case we have an accident, and then fervently hope that we’ll never have to claim against it. But you could have a policy in place but inadvertently make it invalid by making a silly mistake – and wouldn’t it be gutting to pay for your car insurance and then not be able to claim against your policy?
If your policy is invalid for any reason, then not only will your policy not cover the costs of any accident you might experience, you would also be classed as not having car insurance and face criminal penalties.
There are a few different ways that you could invalidate your car insurance without intending to. Take note of them and make sure your insurance remains valid!
First up are the obvious ones: driving around without an MOT, and driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. It’s illegal to drive a car without an MOT; an MOT is proof that your car is roadworthy, and without that proof neither the police nor your insurers would have any reason to believe that your car was indeed roadworthy at the time of any accident. If you drink or take drugs and drive, your insurance would normally pay out for damage caused to someone else’s property or for any personal injury they suffered (on the basis that it would be morally wrong for that innocent person to go without compensation just because of your actions). However, your insurance is very unlikely to pay for damage to you or your car if you were drunk or on drugs at the time of the accident.
Then there are other things that can cause your insurance to become invalid. You know that pre-recorded information they play when you’re on hold to an insurer whilst you’re waiting to speak to someone to take out a policy? Or those online ‘terms and conditions’ that you’re supposed to read before taking out a policy? Well, somewhere in there they tell you that if you don’t tell the insurer the truth about your circumstances or if you don’t mention something relevant, your insurance won’t be valid. Then when they ask you the standard questions about past convictions, past motoring offences and so on, they record your answers.
If you tell them that you have a clean licence and then they later discover that that wasn’t true, your policy will be null and void, even if that particular fib has nothing to do with the accident. That’s because your premium is calculated on the basis of the risk you pose to the insurer (i.e. how likely you are to claim) and if you lie or omit information that could affect that premium, they won’t cover you at all because technically you haven’t been paying the correct premium.
Finally, if you take out a new policy rather than renew your existing one, you will be specifically asked whether your car has any modifications or alterations. If you simply renew your existing insurance, you may forget that you’ve installed a new stereo or added spoilers, and if you have to make a claim you could find that your policy is invalid because that information hasn’t been factored in when calculating your premium.