What Can Invalidate My Car Insurance?

Red car over a book cartoon

A lot of time and energy goes into finding the right car insurance provider and picking the right policy. You’ve got to figure out what you need and read up on all of the fine print involved. Once you’ve chosen a policy, you’ve then got to fork out for the agreed-upon insurance premiums. When you’re spending so much on car insurance, you want to be sure that it remains in place until you’re set for a renewal. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, you could do something to invalidate your car insurance and leave yourself without any cover.

In our latest insurance guide, we’re going to walk you through what invalidates car insurance and why it’s so important to tell your insurer the truth. We’ll also throw in a few tips and tricks to help you from jeopardising your car insurance. Keep reading for the full lowdown!

What does it mean to have your car insurance invalidated?

When you finally pick an insurance policy and sign all of the necessary documents, you’re agreeing to follow a range of conditions set out by the insurer. If you break any of these conditions, your insurer can invalidate your policy. This means that it will no longer exist and you will no longer be insured to drive on the road, which, as you know, is illegal.

It might not seem like a huge deal at first glance. However, if you give it more thought, you’ll realise just how catastrophic it could be. Let’s say you end up in an accident and your car undergoes serious damage. In normal circumstances, you’d be able to make a claim and then take it in for repairs, or have it replaced. Here’s the kicker, though. If your insurer catches you breaking one of their rules, they can invalidate your insurance and decline your claim—potentially costing you hundreds, or thousands, of pounds!

There’s a good reason why we urge all of our drivers to carefully read over their insurance policy documents, and that’s to avoid this kind of situation. Car insurance gives us peace of mind when we take to the roads. If you’re not careful though, this safety net can be removed entirely. To stop this from happening, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with what invalidates car insurance and file it under ‘AVOID AT ALL COSTS‘.

What invalidates car insurance?

Picking the wrong policy

Arrow-shaped signposts pointing left and right

When you’re filling out information for your insurance policy, you’ll realise that your cover will vary depending on what you’re using your car for. Most insurance providers will break it down into three main cover categories:

  • Social, domestic and pleasure: this will cover you for non-work related driving. That means visiting friends and family, heading to the shop and so on.
  • Social and commuting: in addition to the cover above, this type will also cover when you’re driving to and from your workplace.
  • Business: if you’re using your car for work, e.g., deliveries, or your job requires you to drive on a regular basis, you’ll need this type of cover.

If you pick the wrong type of cover, you could run into huge problems further down the line. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve picked ‘social, domestic and pleasure’, despite the fact that you use your car to travel to work. The entire journey to and from work will, for all intents and purposes, be an insurance dead spot. That means you won’t be covered by your insurance. If you’re in an accident, your insurer will not only invalidate your insurance, they’ll also decline any claims you make.

If you’re in the middle of buying car insurance, make sure you read all of the fine print. You need to make sure you’re choosing the right cover type, otherwise, you run the risk of invalidating your insurance. Similarly, if your circumstances have changed, and you now need a different cover type, be sure to let your insurer know.

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Switching jobs

If you’re a regular reader of the PassMeFast blog, you’ll be all too aware of how much your occupation can affect your insurance premiums. With that in mind, you need to make sure that you first action when you change jobs is to inform your insurer. In most cases, you’ll be facing a simple promotion that won’t affect your job title much—meaning, it’s unlikely to affect your premiums.

Of course, if you’ve made a move to a completely different industry, your premiums will most certainly need to be tweaked. Whether it’s a sharp increase or decrease is entirely up to the new level of risk your insurer decides your occupation poses, e.g., if it’s miles away, your commute will be longer and will potentially expose you to more risks on the road. If you attempt to lie or withhold this new job role from your insurer, they will invalidate your insurance as soon as they find out.

Changing your address

Cartoon map with pin

Another factor that insurers consider when calculating your premiums is location. If you currently live in an area with a low volume of car thefts, that also happens to be minutes from your workplace, your premiums will likely be quite low. The risk of your car being stolen is low and your commute is short enough that you won’t be on the road long enough to encounter many risks. If you suddenly move to an area with a high volume of thefts, that happens to be an hour from your workplace, your insurer will need to tweak your premiums in order to adjust for the new level of risk. Regardless of where you move, you need to inform your insurer.

This is very much the same for university students. If you’ve decided to take your car to university, you will need to inform your insurer. If you don’t, and they still assume you’re living at home, your insurance could be invalidated in the event of an accident.

Not sharing your driving offences

It doesn’t matter which insurance provider you pick, they will all ask you to disclose any driving offences you might have on your record. Insurers need this kind of information in order to gauge whether you’re a high risk driver, and whether or not they need to hike up your premiums to make up for the potential risk you carry.

As with all of the other types of personal information you’re asked to disclose, you need to be truthful when it comes to driving offences. Even if you think it might increase your premiums, you still need to tell the truth. Lying to your insurer will never end well.

Lying about the main driver

Woman driving a red car

Car insurance, in case you haven’t clocked on yet, can be a pretty costly affair. One of the ways in which drivers seek to drive down premiums, however, is to add a named driver onto their policy. If the other driver is experienced and has a clean record, it could lead to cheaper premiums. Pretty nifty! This particular tip is often used by young drivers who are lumped with the highest premiums around.

Of course, as with most things, some people end up taking it a bit too far. In an attempt to get even lower premiums, some drivers take out a policy that names someone else as the main driver and themselves as the named driver—despite the fact that they’ll be using the car more. This tricks the insurer into thinking that the low-risk driver will be using the car more frequently. This tactic is otherwise known as fronting, which is a form of insurance fraud.

If you’re caught fronting, your insurance will be invalidated and you will likely be fined and given penalty points. The other driver involved will also likely face the same punishment. If that wasn’t enough to scare you straight, you could also end up blacklisted by your insurance provider. This means that when you look for insurance in the future, you’ll likely struggle to find an insurer willing to cover you.

If you’re facing hefty premiums, read up on our tips for reducing your insurance premiums. Alternatively, try out a black box (telematics) insurance policy and enjoy lower premiums for safe driving!

Underestimating your mileage

When you fill out your details for your insurance policy, one of the things you’ll need to do is provide your estimated annual mileage. Many drivers simply hazard a guess and leave it there. If you follow suit, but you end up vastly exceeding it, then you’re breaking the conditions you agreed to. If you end up in an accident, your insurer will be able to access your MOT records and see whether or not you’ve exceeded the mileage you specified in your policy agreement. In the event of you exceeding the limit, your insurer could decide to invalidate your insurance.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what your annual mileage will be. You can get a rough idea by looking at your MOT records. Pick out your last two, find the mileage on both and then calculate the difference between them to find out how much you’ve driven in a year. Alternatively, if you’re mainly using your car to commute to work, calculate how far the journey is and times that by how many trips you’ll likely take in a year.

Not looking after your car

Car on stand

As a driver, it is your responsibility to ensure that your car is kept roadworthy. Failing to do so could result in you endangering not only yourself, but other road users. If you end up in an accident, your insurer will look at your MOT records to gauge what kind of condition your car was in beforehand. If it becomes clear that you’ve let things slip, they could decide to invalidate your insurance. This would, in turn, mean that you would be unable to make a claim—leaving you to foot a pretty hefty bill.

Your car undergoes a lot of wear and tear throughout its lifespan. Even if you’re only taking it out for a spin once in a while, it’s vital that you keep it in tip-top condition. We’re not just talking about giving it a good clean here. You need to look after your tyres, mirrors, engine and so on and so forth. (You can find more information on this in our guide to maintaining your car.) Remember, this isn’t just to avoid invalidating your insurance, it’s to keep everyone safe on the road!

Letting someone borrow your car

If a friend or family member asks to borrow your car for a quick errand, you might be all too eager to say yes—who doesn’t want to be a good Samaritan once in a while? Unfortunately, this kind gesture can backfire when it comes to your car insurance. The only people who are allowed to drive your car are the ones that are named in your policy. If someone is driving your car without the right insurance, and they end up in an accident, your insurer will not cover you for any damages rendered.

Even if the other driver has insurance cover that enables them to drive other cars, it’s usually only third party cover—meaning, if they end up in an accident, there won’t be anything covering the damage to your car. So, if you plan on sharing your car on a regular basis, or have someone borrow it every now and then, be sure to add them to your policy. Trust us, it doesn’t matter how safe of a driver they are, accidents do happen. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. It’s not worth the cost or risk involved otherwise.

Ignoring tax and MOT

If you want to drive your car on public roads, you need to insure it, tax it and keep its MOT up-to-date. It is illegal to drive otherwise. If you’re caught driving with an expired MOT, you could end up with a maximum fine of £1,000. Similarly, if you’re caught driving without road tax, you could get a fine of £80—if you don’t pay, this could increase to a maximum of £1,000 and lead to prosecution. If that’s not enough to put you off, your insurer could also invalidate your policy and leave you without cover if they find out.

To stop this from happening, make sure you know when your next MOT is due. You can head on over to GOV.UK and get text or email reminders for this. You can also check to see if your car is taxed here. If you’ve got the memory of a goldfish, you could opt to set up a direct debit that will automatically renew your tax when it’s due.

Leaving your keys in the ignition

Most insurance policies will include cover against car theft and vandalism. So, if your car’s stolen or vandalised, you’ll be able to make a claim and fix or replace your car. If you look at the fine print of this cover, however, you’ll realise that this hinges on you keeping your car secure. We’re not just talking about making sure you lock your car here. A key problem that many drivers are in the habit of making, which can lead to insurance being invalidated, is leaving car keys in the ignition.

Many drivers opt to leave their keys in the ignition to warm up their car while they nip back inside their house for something. If you do this, and your car is then stolen, your insurer will invalidate your policy. After all, if you’ve left your keys there, you’ve practically done all of the work for a potential car thief. You can’t expect your insurer to accept a claim when you’ve invited the risk yourself. If you want to avoid this from happening, we’d suggest you read up on our tips to keep your car secure.

Lying about where you leave your car

Cartoon red car with woman driving attached to car key

If you’ve taken out insurance before, or you’ve read some of our guides, you’ll know that insurers will ask you where you intend to leave your car overnight, e.g., a garage, on a driveway, in a private car park, or on the street. They ask this because there’s a different level of risk attached to each choice. If you’re storing your car in a garage or a private car park, for example, you’re letting them know that your car is secure and less likely to be a target for car theft. If, on the other hand, you tell them that you’re parking it on the street, they’ll see it as a greater risk and likely increase your premiums.

As tempted as you might be to lie to your insurer about where you store your vehicle, remember that they will find out. If you tell them that your car is safe in your garage, even though it’s parked outside, you’ll run into problems if it gets stolen or damaged. Your insurer will ask you how such a thing is possible when you told them your car was secure. Once they realise you’ve lied to them, they’ll invalidate your insurance and leave you to deal with the cost.

If you’ve not got the option of storing your car in a garage or private car park, you can still take precautions to keep it safe and, potentially, reduce your premiums. Read up our top ten car accessories to keep your car secure.

Modifying your car

One of the first things that drivers look into after buying a car is car modifications—whether it’s on a purely cosmetic or performance-level basis. Though it can be a costly endeavour, many drivers see it as a worthy investment in order to make their car feel more unique and suitable for them. Unfortunately, these costs can skyrocket once your insurer finds out. In case you weren’t aware, modifications can end up increasing the value of your car. Whilst this is great if you intend to sell your car in the future, it can also lead to higher premiums. The higher the value of your car is, the greater the risk is of car theft.

And that’s not all! If you end up in an accident, the cost of repairs will end up being much higher than they would have been previously due to your modifications. Whether you’re looking into a new brake system or custom wheels, you need to inform your insurer beforehand. They will then be able to tell you whether the changes will affect your premiums. If you don’t tell them, it will seem like you’re intentionally misleading them. They will then invalidate your insurance as a result.

What happens if my car insurance is invalidated?

Yellow car with magnifying glass

As we’ve now highlighted, there are many ways in which you could be unknowingly jeopardising your car insurance cover. What you might be wondering, however, is what the exact consequences will be. Well, here are just a few:

  • Your claim(s) will be declined: if your insurance is invalidated after you’ve been in an accident, you won’t be able to make a claim. Depending on the severity of the accident, you could be left to foot a huge bill.
  • You’ll be driving without cover: it is illegal to drive on public roads without at least third party insurance in place. If your insurance is invalidated and you’re still driving, you could end up with a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points.
  • You might struggle finding another insurer: if your insurance has been invalidated due to insurance fraud, your insurer will likely blacklist you. This will make it incredibly difficult for you to find an insurer willing to offer you cover.

Needless to say, it’s pretty darn important for you to follow the conditions set out by your insurance provider. If you’ve got a policy in place, you should dig out your policy documents and carefully read through them. Though it might not be the most riveting read, it will save you in the long run. If you’re in the middle of sorting out a policy, be sure to tell the full truth—when it comes to car insurance, honesty is always the best policy.

Super Save up to £253* on your car insurance with MoneySuperMarket*; they are 100% independent and on your side!

*51% of consumers could save up to £253.08 on their annual car insurance premiums. Consumer Intelligence, July 2021.

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.

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