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30 Jul 2020
Jamie Gibbs Jamie Gibbs

Coronavirus: Impact on drivers and car insurance

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Hand holding a petrol pump while wearing disposable gloves

With the UK on partial lockdown, there’s a fair amount of confusion. Many businesses are working from home. And people who drive may be confused about what happens with their car.

Here we’ve answered some common questions around driving during the coronavirus crisis.

 

What happens if my MOT runs out?

Lockdown restrictions are easing, and all drivers with an MOT due from 1 August are being urged to book an MOT test. This is a legal requirement.

Drivers who have an MOT test due before 1 August will be granted a 6-month extension. For example, if your MOT is due on 31 July, it’ll be extended to 31 January 2021.

But even if your vehicle is exempt, you should take it to the garage immediately if you notice something wrong. You can still be prosecuted for driving an unsafe vehicle.

A few garages UK-wide remained open during the outbreak to conduct essential repairs. Now, 90% of garages are open across the country.

If you’re vulnerable or self-isolating and your car needs a repair or your MOT is due, contact your local garage. They may offer safe pick-up and drop-off services.

To keep an eye on your MOT end date and get a notification when it's due, download our app.

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READ MORE: How to pass your MOT check first time

 

Can I still drive?

Check the England, Wales and Scotland government websites for more information.  

If you have to travel to work you should use your car wherever possible. This will help stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Be sure to maintain at least a two-metre distance from others when you're not in the car. 

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I can't pay my insurance premiums. Is there help available?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is encouraging insurers to help people who are struggling to pay for insurance. 

If you're in financial difficulty, contact your insurer. They'll be able to discuss the best options for you. 

You'll be able to ask for help from 18 May to 8 August 2020.

Insurers could offer help by:

  • reassessing your level of risk e.g you'll be driving less due to lockdown 

  • reviewing your level of cover.

  • waive cancellation fees, or any fees associated with amending a policy.

These temporary measures may help to reduce monthly payments. Or if the you’ve paid upfront you could get a refund. 

If these amendments don't reduce the premiums, insurers will be encouraged to defer the payments for a period of 1-3 months. Some insurers may choose to extend beyond 3 months. This depends on the individual needs of the policy holder.

If these measures aren’t possible, insurers could provide support by:

  • accepting reduced repayments or rescheduling the payment dates

  • waiving missed or late payment fees

  • allowing a customer to amend their repayment date at no cost

Some companies are already offering refunds. All car and van insurance customers insured with Admiral will get an automatic £25 refund.

Car and motorbike customers with LV= can apply for a refund between £20 and £50 if they're having financial difficulties

 

Should I tell my insurer that my driving habits have changed?

Each insurer has different requirements, so it's best to check with them if they need to update your policy.

If you're using your car less, it may mean your insurance costs are less.

Be sure to ask if they charge an admin fee for making changes to policies during lockdown.

READ MORE: How to change your car insurance policy 

 

I don't want my car insurance policy to renew but I can't get through to my insurer.

With many call centres closed or at reduced capacity, you might have to wait a while to get through on the phone.

But you should be able to stop your auto-renewal with an email to your insurer.

For more information, check out our guide to cancelling your car insurance policy.

 

I'm not using my car at all at the moment. Can I declare it off-road?

Yes, so long as your car is parked on private land. You can get a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) for your car.

This means you legally declare your car as being off the road. You'll get a refund on any full months' tax, and you won't need to insure the car.

But this means your car will not be covered if it's damaged or stolen.

It also means you won't be able to drive the car at all. 

READ MORE: How to SORN your car

 

How can self-employed van drivers protect themselves?

Depending on your profession, you may be able to carry on working. The government has listed which businesses need to close and which can remain open.

If you’re a tradesperson and aren’t self-isolating, you can still do repair work in other people's homes. This is so long as they’re not self-isolating or are in the ‘shielded’ category.

Remember to stick to the two-metre social distancing rule at all times. For more information, visit GOV.UK.

The government has also introduced help for self-employed people during this time.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: help if you’re self-employed

 

Can I still refuel my car if I’m self-isolating?

If you’re self-isolating, you shouldn’t leave your house for any reason for 10 days.

If you’re not self-isolating, you can still refuel. You shouldn’t touch the petrol pumps with your bare hands, though.

Wear gloves at the petrol station or use a tissue to hold the pump. Then either wash the gloves when you get home or dispose of the tissue immediately.

 

Will my car’s battery deteriorate if I don’t use my car for a few weeks?

Your battery will naturally lose power, even when the car is sat on your driveway. If you’re not using it for a few weeks, you should be fine.

But after three or four months of no use, it’s likely to be empty.

If you think you won’t use your car for even longer, here are two options:

  • Use the car during your essential trips to the shops. These should be enough to keep the battery charged.

  • Use a maintenance charger – also known as a trickle charger. You can leave these on the battery to keep it topped up until you need to use the car again.

READ MORE: Car maintenance during lockdown

 

My car is on finance and I’m worried about making the repayments.

The first thing you should do is get in touch with your lender and explain the situation. They may be able to work something out with you.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has told lenders to offer payment holidays. This means you can defer your payments for up to three months.

You'll still get interest on the debt - you just delay your payments.

More important, finance dealers won't be able to repossess your car during this window if you're struggling to make payments.

It's worth chatting to your lender as soon as possible anyway. They may be able to help before this comes in.

There's some support available for your finances in general. For more information, visit GOV.UK.

 

Should I cancel my driving test?

In England, driving theory tests will restart from 4 July. Practical tests will restart from 22 July. For more information, visit GOV.UK.

All driving tests are still suspended in Wales and Scotland.

 

What if I break down during an essential trip?

Breakdown recovery services are still running, but their rules differ between companies. If you have breakdown cover, check with your provider on what they say.

You’re likely better off looking on their website or app, as there may be a long wait over the phone.

If you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating, be sure to mention this as soon as you can.

This will help the breakdown service make your car’s recovery safe for everyone involved.

READ MORE: What to do if your car breaks down

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