If you're under the assumption your insurance allows you to drive any other motor with third-party cover, you could be breaking the law.
It used to be the case that cover for driving other cars (DOC) was included by most insurers on comprehensive car insurance policies. Typically, this gave you third-party cover to drive cars not listed on your policy.
But increasingly, many comprehensive policies do not offer this benefit without a catch. You’ll often have to request it, and pay for it as an extra.
Many drivers believe that you can jump in someone else’s car and be covered third party by your own insurance policy. Provided, that is, that you're fully comp on yours and you have the owner’s permission.
But there are strict stipulations for this, and now some insurers are doing away with the driving-other-cars (DOC) benefit altogether.
For a start, DOC is only supposed to be used in an emergency - so it's not intended for those who are popping out for a spin.
And if you’re under 25, you can pretty much rule out driving other cars altogether, even if you have comprehensive cover.
Also don't assume that as soon as you hit 25 you'll automatically have DOC. You'll need to call up your insurer and ask them to add it, and there could be a fee for that.
Some insurers only include it on the renewal after your 25th birthday.
The small print
This is because most insurers exclude anyone who falls within the “young driver” age range.
If you’re under 25 and want to drive someone else’s car, your best bet would be to either get added as a named driver on their policy or take out temporary cover.
There are a few companies who don’t place an age restriction on the benefit, so you might be lucky.
Why your occupation matters
The second most common stipulation is occupation, and insurers reserve the right to refuse cover if your job is deemed to be too risky.
These are usually jobs where the policyholder is more likely to be driving other cars.
For this reason, many jobs in the motor industry will often be excluded from this cover. You’ll need to check with your insurer for clarification.
For example, some insurers state that the car you are borrowing should not be “owned by (or hired under a hire purchase agreement by or leased to) you or your partner".
Driving your partner's car
What this means is that it will not cover you to drive your partner or spouse’s car third party.
For example, if your own car is in the garage and you thought to nip out in your partner’s car, you wouldn’t be covered. Even if you have DOC.
It's common that the other car must not be hired, but that this also applies to the policyholder’s partner as well is unusual, and could catch many drivers out.
The bottom line is to check the precise conditions for driving other cars with your insurer. Otherwise, the outcome could end up costing you a packet.
If you are found to be driving without car insurance you could be hit with an IN10 licence endorsement.
This carries six to eight penalty points and stays on your licence for four years from the date of offence.
An IN10 on your record will most likely increase your premium considerably. That’s if the insurer wants your business at all - many will simply refuse to insure you.
It's one of the biggest black marks you can have on your insurance record, so it’s pretty important to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
What's more, if you knowingly allow someone to drive your car who isn't insured, you could get an IN12, which is basically the same in the eyes of insurers.
If in doubt, refer to your policy wording or just give your insurer a ring.
First published 21 May 2015