There are various car insurance risks that motorists are not aware of. This is what you need to know so you can avoid some of the common pitfalls.

SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC

About 25% of motorists simply have ‘Social and Domestic’ use for their car insurance policies and not ‘Commute to and from a fixed place of work’. This means that potentially 1 in 4 motorists are not adequately insured.

Motorists are having their cars seized for not being insured to use their vehicle to commute to and from work.

EXPIRED MOT

If a vehicle does not have a current MOT in place, it is uninsured and there is no grace period.

UNDERESTIMATING ANNUAL MILEAGE

Many motorists underestimate their annual mileage on policies in an attempt to keep the costs down. This information can easily be found for free via websites such as www.cartaxcheck.co.uk which provide a snapshot of a vehicle’s tax and MOT status and history complete with annual mileages.

It’s fair to say that if an insurance firm finds that you have vastly underestimated your annual mileage if / when a claim is made, they can easily refuse to pay out on any claims.

MODIFICATIONS

Even the smallest of modifications such as tinted windows, change of occupation or address need to be disclosed otherwise it voids your policy.

KNOCK-ON EFFECTS

Third parties that may be involved in any claims made on a void policy may result in a private prosecution with the possibility of a claim being made against any assets that you hold.

It’s fair to say that a ‘no win, no fee’ lawyer would have a field day dealing with such a case, given that the average whiplash claim is about £1,500 and Motor Legal Protection (‘MLP’) policies cover claims up to £100,000.

MOTOR LEGAL PROTECTION COVER

Motor Legal Protection (“MLP”) covers loss of excess and personal injuries and this is essential speaking from personal experience.

WHERE WILL YOUR VEHICLE BE PARKED

The question, “Where will your vehicle be parked?” is critical.

I have had to say that my vehicle is parked on the street when it’s actually parked in a designated bay in a cul-de-sac outside my flat because the public have access and right of way to it, yet it’s on private land.

Insurance firms cannot (or will not) differentiate on that, so I am probably paying a premium for something that isn’t entirely factual at all. My policy would be rendered null and void in the event of a claim if I didn’t agree to the insurance policy specifics.

ARSON ATTACKS

Arson attacks can also cause problems even though you think you are covered by ‘third party, fire and theft’. If your vehicle was parked in a public car park overnight and was torched, the insurance firm could take the stance that it was not parked where it was stated on the insurance policy and contest a claim.

CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE

I had an attempted break-in on my flat on a hot summer’s night through a small rectangle window that was ajar, although thankfully a friend was sleeping in the lounge on the night it happened.

I had my car and house keys in the front door at the time and had they been successful in breaking in and stealing my car and belongings, my insurance policies would have been rendered invalid as there was no forced entry and I would be held culpable for contributory negligence by leaving my house and car keys easily accessible.

MOBILE PHONES

Up to 30% of motorists have damaged their own vehicle by using a mobile phone while driving with the average claim coming in at about £480. I see it often and on Edinburgh’s busiest roads, so it’s obviously a common occurrence which can render a driver being hit with various charges including driving without due care and attention as well as using a mobile phone while driving.

Insurance companies often refuse to insure any motorist that has been convicted of this offence, and it’s now more or less on a par with drink-driving by way of future risks that insurance companies factor in when quoting for policies.

DASH CAMS

About 30% of motorists now use dash-cams and whilst the quality of the footage is variable, it is usually good enough to use as evidence to the Police for incidents of bad driving that may be caused by using mobile phones. Whilst a dash-cam won’t capture mobile phone usage, the Police can access phone records to check around the time of any incidents.

The Financial Conduct Authority is investigating car insurers on various tactics they are using to rip customers off, so motorists need to be on their guard more than ever so they remain covered in all eventualities.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think motorists are being treated fairly by the car insurance industry?

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