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Test drive insurance

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The average cost for a one-hour test drive policy is just £19*

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*Based on Confused.com data from Tempcover average policy purchase prices in September 2022.

Do you need insurance to test drive a car?

Yes, if you’re going on a test drive, you’ll need to be insured to drive that car.

Driving a car you’re not insured to drive could land you with a £300 fine and 6 penalty points on your license. If the case goes to court you could also get an unlimited fine or a driving ban.

If you’re test driving a car at a dealership, they might supply you with test drive insurance, so you might not need your own. But always check before setting off.

If you’re buying privately, you’ll need to arrange your own car insurance before you get behind the wheel.

How does test drive insurance work?

Test drive insurance is a type of temporary car insurance. You'll be able to find cover for as little as 1 hour all the way up to 28 days.

It’s only available as a fully comprehensive policy, so you'll be covered for any damage you cause to the car you’re test driving, as well as any you cause to a third party or their property.

If you have a no claims bonus on another car, a test drive policy won’t impact that. So even if you do need to make a claim, your NCB on your standard car insurance won’t be affected.

Do you need insurance to drive a new car home?

Yes, if you’ve bought a new car, you’ll need to insure it before you drive it home.

You could take out an annual car insurance policy as soon as you buy the car. But if you need to return it for any reason, you might have to pay a cancellation fee to end that policy.

So temporary insurance can sometimes make more sense until you’re sure you’re keeping the car.

If you take out a temporary policy, once you're home, you’ll need to either take out an annual policy, extend your temporary insurance, or SORN your car until you’re ready to insure it.

If you’re not ready to commit to a full annual policy, and you need to drive your new car home, you have a few options:

If you’re driving straight home after a test drive, and the test drive insurance you took out for it is still active, you’ll be able to drive home under the same policy.

If you’re collecting the car later, you could get drive away insurance instead. This works in the same way as test drive insurance, and will cover you until you get your new car home.

 

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Do I need insurance for an extended test drive?

Extended test drives last longer than your typical trip around the block. Some can last as long as 7 days.

They’re usually only offered by dealerships, as private sellers are unlikely to hand over their car to you for a week.

Due to this, there’s a good chance you won’t have to buy test drive car insurance for extended test drives as the dealership will often have their own test drive insurance in place.

This should cover you, but it’s always worth checking before you hit the road.

If you do need your own extended test drive insurance, you can take out cover for as long as 28 days, which should see you through the longest of test drives.

Do I need test drive insurance if I have driving other cars cover?

A driving other cars (DOC) clause, is a feature on annual car insurance policies that insures you to drive other cars besides your own.

DOC clauses generally only apply to emergencies. So even if you have a DOC clause on your car insurance, it won’t cover test drives.

It’s also usually only gives you third party protection, which means if you were to crash on your test drive, you’d have to foot the bill for any repairs your test drive car needed.

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Can you test drive a SORN car?

No, if the owner has declared the car off-road with a SORN then it’s illegal for anyone to drive it.

If you wanted to test drive the car, the owner would have to unSORN it and get it taxed.

You’d then have to make sure you took out insurance before getting behind the wheel – even if you’re just driving around the block for 10 minutes.

The same goes for driving a SORN car home. Once you’ve bought the car, you’ll need to tax and insure it yourself before setting off.

What should I check on a test drive?

Once you’re insured, you’re ready for your test drive. But what should you be checking?

Here are a few things to keep your eye on:

VIN number: Always check the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) matches the VIN in the log book (V5C). If the numbers don’t match, it could mean the car has been stolen. You’ll typically find the VIN on the engine bay, around the trim on the front passenger/driver door or in the corner of the windscreen.

Central locking: Is the car’s locking function working correctly?

Headlights: Are both the dipped and full beam headlights working? What about the fog lights?

Tyres: Look at the tyres’ tread depth to see whether you’ll need to replace them straightaway. If you do, it’s worth asking the owner for some money off the asking price.

Undercarriage: Check the undercarriage to see if there are any signs of rust, as a rusted-out chassis can lead to an MOT failure.

Warning lights: Once you’ve got the car going, check to see if any dashboard warning lights are coming on.

Steering: How does the car handle around bends? If the car appears to veer to either the left or right, you may need to get the wheels realigned. Again, ask the owner if they’ll take the cost off the asking price if this is the case.

Acceleration: Pay attention to how the engine sounds and how the car generally feels when you accelerate. Is the engine power about what you were expecting?

Braking: If the car is taking longer than usual to slow when you brake, it could be a sign the brake pads are worn and need replacing. Check if the handbrake is working smoothly as well.

Odd noises Listen out for any unusual sounds from the car when you first switch on the engine and when you’re actually driving. Odd noises could be a sign that something is significantly wrong with the car.

Air con and heating You don’t want to find out that the heating isn’t working in the depth of winter, or that the air con has packed in on one of the hottest days of summer.

Electric windows: If the electric windows aren’t working properly, it could be due to an electrical fault, which could be pricey to repair.

Infotainment system: Don’t forget to check the infotainment system is working properly as these can be pricey to replace too.

What our expert says

If you’re test driving a car, you need insurance. Setting off without it could land you with points on your licence, a fine or worse. So it’s simply not worth the risk. Compare quotes now and we’ll find you cover in minutes, at a price that suits you.
Alex Kindred signature

Alex Kindred

Car insurance product manager

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