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Will my insurance be invalidated if I drive during lockdown?

Will "non-essential" driving during the coronavirus lockdown invalidate your car insurance? The Car Expert has the answer.

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UPDATE, November 2020: There has been a lot of confusion in recent days about whether your car insurance is still valid, fuelled by misinformation from an insurance-switching company.
Please read below for the full story and ignore speculation in social media or tabloid newspapers.

As the UK moves in and out of lockdown restrictions like some really unappealing game of hokey-cokey, there have been plenty of questions arising from motorists about what they can and can’t do with their cars. Unfortunately, this has not been helped by misinformation being spread on certain issues.

In recent days, there has been mounting concern and speculation online that motorists who are not on an essential trip could be invalidating their car insurance. The origin of this appears to be an insurance-switching organisation that published a press release last Friday, saying: “you may find your car insurance policy won’t cover the damage and you could end up paying thousands of pounds for repairs”.

This is not true.

This incorrect information was picked up and used for articles by several newspapers and websites over the weekend and today, including Sky News, the Daily Mirror and several regional news organistions.

There have also been (unverified) claims on social media over the last week or so that drivers are being fined and/or issued with penalty points on their driving licences if they are using their car for commuting to work when their policy doesn’t allow it. This was also picked up by tabloid media and some other news sites.

So here are your definitive answers.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has issued a lot of advice in recent months and has set up a specific coronavirus FAQ page for car insurance questions. It’s well worth a read.

When asked directly by The Car Expert today (9 November), a spokesperson for the ABI said: “During lockdown the Government has advised against all but essential travel. Motor insurers continue to cover those using their vehicle for commuting to work and NHS volunteering without you having to first tell them. You should follow Government restrictions, but if you do use your car for non-essential travel, you will not risk invalidating your car insurance.”

“Further information, including the pledges made by motor insurers to support customers, can be found here as well: https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-hub/motor-insurance/

Further guidance from the ABI also indicates that anyone who has signed up for the NHS Volunteer Responders service will not have to update their car insurance for it to be valid. However, if you are a Community First Responder or other ‘Blue Light’ volunteer, you should contact your insurer or broker to inform them.

Keep your insurance details up to date

Even though you don’t have to worry about your car insurance not covering you for non-essential travel, it’s still important that the details you give your insurance provider are 100% accurate. There are many things that can invalidate your car insurance.

While it’s true that you don’t need to update your current policy to add ‘commuting’ if you are now driving to work as a result of Covid-19, you should probably do it anyway. And when your policy is up for renewal (or you choose to switch to another insurer), then you do need to update this information as you will be taking out a new policy.

We’ve put together this helpful guide with ten points to check:

Police cracking down on uninsured drivers

Part of the confusion about whether your car insurance is valid may be coming from police forces across the running a co-ordinated crackdown on uninsured drivers.

‘Operation Drive Insured’ saw all of the UK’s 43 police forces working to detect and seize uninsured cars a couple of weeks ago, so it’s entirely possible that some of the law enforcement activity affected those who didn’t have their insurance details up to date. However, there is a difference between police issuing a penalty for you not having the correct insurance and an insurance company refusing to pay out.

This article replaces a previous version from April 2020, and has been largely re-written to address ongoing speculation about car insurance validity during the latest coronavirus lockdown.

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Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.