The ability to drive other cars on your policy isn't something that's always automatically included. In fact, not all providers even offer it as an option.
A friend is in a pickle and needs someone to drive their car home. You think to yourself “Great, I have fully comprehensive cover so I can drive another car on my insurance,” and off you toddle.
But, actually, do you have driving other cars (DOC) on your policy? And was that jaunt in your friend’s car actually legal?
What is ‘driving other cars’ insurance?
DOC is a clause in your policy that allows you to drive someone else’s car without being a named driver on their policy.
It’s important to understand that if such a clause isn’t included, you aren’t covered to drive other cars – even if your insurance policy is fully comprehensive.
If you do drive another car without being insured, you’re breaking the law – and you risk a hefty fine, penalty points and possible disqualification.
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Is driving other cars automatically included on fully comprehensive policies?
No. There was a time when many fully-comp policies automatically gave you third-party insurance to drive any car, but those days have gone.
So even if you're fully covered for your own car, don't assume you're insured to drive other people's cars otherwise you risk breaking the law.
Before getting behind the wheel of another car, speak to your insurer to find out what the situation is.
If necessary, ask them about adding a clause to your policy – not all insurers offer that option, but many do.
What do I need to do to get DOC on my policy?
There are quite a few typical requirements that are common among most insurers, including:
You need to be 25 or over when the policy starts.
Your car insurance policy needs to be a fully comprehensive one.
The other car must have insurance already.
Your car must be in a driveable state (ie, not written off).
Your occupation cannot be in the motor trade (ie, where you often drive other cars).
It also needs to be stated on your certificate of motor insurance that you have the DOC extension.
How is ‘driving other cars’ cover different from adding a temporary driver?
DOC cover is there for emergencies – such as if a friend has had an accident and needs you to drive them to hospital.
It’s the lowest level of cover (third-party only). If you have an accident, the policy will cover only damage to the other car. You would be liable for the damage caused to the car you’re driving.
An alternative would be to be added to the other car’s policy as a temporary driver with fully comprehensive temporary car insurance.
This provides longer-term cover, as opposed to DOC cover, which is designed for occasional, infrequent events.
For instance, if you have a child home from uni for two months and you want them to be able to use your car. Adding them as a temporary driver would let them do that whereas DOC cover wouldn’t.
Can I drive a van on my DOC insurance?
Technically this can be done, but good luck in trying! DOC cover is rarely provided for driving a van.
This is partly because the definition of a van is very broad - it can be nearer to being a lorry than being a car.
It also risks allowing the driver to stray from personal use to commercial use, which would require a different policy completely. DOC cover is not designed for commercial use.
Not sure if you have DOC? Don't drive!
Before you get behind the steering wheel of the car you want to drive, make sure you have DOC cover. Call your provider and ask them, and check your certificate of motor insurance, too.
If you're pulled over by the police while you’re driving another car and it turns out you don’t have DOC cover, you’ll be facing some serious consequences.
That’s on top of any penalties imposed by the authorities.
You’ll get a conviction of driving without insurance, which comes with between six and eight points on your licence.
If you’re within your first two years of driving, that’s enough to lose your licence even if your previous record was unblemished.
You’ll face a fixed-penalty fine of £300, and if it goes to court you could be fined much more.
And that’s not the end of it, as such a conviction isn’t looked upon kindly by insurers.
It’s likely to increase your premiums– if you can even find an insurer to give you a quote in the first place, that is.
Many insurers won’t cover drivers with this conviction as they’re considered to be too high risk.
What can I do if I don't have DOC?
If you don’t have DOC on your policy – whether that's because you’re too young or because your provider doesn’t offer it – you still have options:
Ask the other policyholder to add you to their policy as a named driver. You’ll have the same level of cover as them.
They can add you to their policy as a temporary driver. You could be on there for a week or a month, whichever is relevant.
You can take out a temporary car insurance policy on the car you want to drive – this can be from as short as just one day.
There’s one further option that might, in some circumstances, help you. The owner of the other car can apply for any-driver car insurance – cover that allows anyone else to drive the named vehicle.
This sort of policy might appeal to a business that has several people who need to drive the same car, for example.
But even with any-driver car insurance, there are likely to be restrictions on who can get behind the wheel, such as a minimum age requirement.