Last year, police forces across the UK made almost 4,000 calls to the Motor Insurance Bureau’s (MIB) police helpline relating to the “Drive any Vehicle” clause in motorists insurance policies.
As a result, over 1,500 vehicles were seized during this period because motorists thought they were covered to drive another vehicle – but in fact were not insured at all.
The MIB finds that drivers often assume they have the Drive any Vehicle extension on their insurance policy if they have fully comprehensive cover. In particular, the Drive any Vehicle extension is only valid if you are the policyholder on a vehicle, not a named driver on someone else’s.
Recent research by temporary motor insurance provider Tempcover also reveals that over the past few years, most insurers have been quietly modifying or removing the drive any vehicle clauses after they were increasingly abused by motorists looking to dodge rising premiums. That means that you can’t assume that you can just drive someone else’s vehicle.
Tradespeople at risk
The Tempcover research found that tradespeople, along with young drivers, are the main victims of the change to the clause and are likely to be caught out as many rely on the ability to borrow a van at short notice in order to keep their business going.
For most tradespeople, their van is far more than just their transport, it’s their office and even one day off the road can have a huge impact on their business.
If tradespeople need to borrow a van to get to a job, they may assume they’re automatically covered under the DOV clause, unaware that many insurance providers don’t offer the extension for vans.
Admiral and Hastings are just two of the van insurance providers that won’t cover you to drive other vehicles, regardless of your circumstances. This is almost certain to stop tradespeople and other small business owners from simply swapping in and out of vans.
Unfortunately, drivers are unable to see whether they are covered to drive another vehicle until they’ve purchased a policy. It’s an important policy feature that rarely gets a mention during the price comparison process.
The closest you can get is to select the insurer you want and then to trawl through their policy wording documents.
While you’re very unlikely to find out if you are covered to drive other vehicles under your policy before buying the policy, what you can find, if you search hard enough, is the growing number of restrictions that
insurers are putting on the clause.
Tradespeople are left not knowing if this once-policy standard is included until they’ve purchased the policy and even then, they must wade through the dense, jargon-filled policy wording documents to find out the
numerous restrictions on the extension.
The onus is increasingly being put on drivers to find and interpret their individual policy wording before getting behind the wheel of another van.
If you’re lucky enough to have the extension, if you have an accident, at best you’ll be left with a big repair bill and the possibility of being sued for damages.
At worst, if you find that the cover is not included and you’re stopped by the police, you would face a range of penalties including 6-8 penalty points on your licence, a possible 6-12-month disqualification from driving and an unlimited fine depending on the seriousness of the offence.