What can invalidate your car insurance?

Find out how to avoid the most common car insurance invalidations and what to do if it happens.

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Having at least third party car insurance is a legal requirement to drive on UK roads. However, certain things can invalidate your policy, sometimes without you even being aware. You don’t want to make a claim only to find that you don’t have valid cover, and you certainly don’t want to be caught driving without insurance, as that can get you into serious trouble.

We’ve looked at the most common ways to invalidate car insurance and what you can do to avoid this happening.

What does it mean to have invalidated insurance?

Invalidating your insurance means that an action you took has made your cover null and void. In this situation, if you have an accident and make a claim, you will not get a payout, even if your premium payments are up to date.

If you’re caught driving without a valid insurance policy, you can get in trouble with the police, even if you didn’t know your cover was invalidated.

What can invalidate car insurance?

The most common car insurance invalidations include:

  • Your car’s location. Even if you have multiple addresses, your car insurance policy must be linked to the address your car spends the most time parked outside of. So, if you’re a student and take your car to uni with you, you must tell your insurer this and register your car to the right address.
  • Mods and upgrades. Many car insurance policies exclude modifications, and so you must tell your insurer if you make any to your car. Your insurer might agree to cover the modification, but you risk invalidating the policy if you fail to let it know. Similarly, if you’ve upgraded any of your car’s features, this can increase the car value and the cost of repairing it, so you must let your insurance company know.
  • Fronting. Fronting is when a parent registers themselves as the car’s main driver, with their child listed as a named driver, in order to lower the cost of the insurance. However, while this may save you money on premiums, it can end up costing you as it will invalidate your policy if your insurer finds out. It also counts as insurance fraud, which can land you in hot water with the law.
  • Using your car for business. Simply using your car for business purposes won’t invalidate your cover, unless you fail to declare that is what you’re doing when you take out the policy. Most providers ask you to choose the main reason/s you use your car during the quote process. The first reason is usually domestic, social and commuting – in this instance, commuting refers to driving to a train station or to one place of work. If you drive to multiple sites or to see clients, then you need to include business use in your cover.
  • Safety measures. If your car is stolen and it turns out you left your keys in the ignition, didn’t lock your car or otherwise failed to keep the car safe, your cover will be invalidated. Similarly, if you have an accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you are unlikely to receive a payout from your insurer.
  • Regular check-ups. If you don’t keep your car in good condition with regular maintenance checks and MOTs, your cover can be invalidated. Note that driving without a valid MOT is illegal, as is driving an untaxed car, which can also void your policy.
  • Wrong mileage. When you apply for cover, you are asked how many miles your car does per year. If you underestimate this by a significant number, your insurer may invalidate your policy.
  • Change in details. If you change job or move house, you must let your insurer know. Failing to do this can invalidate your cover.
  • Not sharing driving offences. You must always be completely honest when filling out the application for car insurance. This includes telling your insurer about any driving convictions you have, if you were even denied insurance and if you have any other convictions (should you be asked).
  • Someone else driving. If you let someone borrow your car, they must have valid insurance in order to do so. The best way for them to get cover is with temporary car insurance. Some insurers won’t cover you for someone else to drive your car even if they’re insured, so make sure to check your policy details to avoid voiding your cover.

What happens to you if you invalidate your car insurance?

If your cover is invalidated, you might suffer one or more of the following consequences:

  • Your claim will be declined. Naturally, if your cover is invalid, you won’t get a payout for any claims you make, even if you’ve kept up with payments. This can leave you having to fork out for repairs or even a new car yourself.
  • You’ll be driving illegally. Driving without at least third party cover is against the law. If you’re caught driving without insurance (even if you weren’t aware your cover was void), you can get a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points.
  • You might struggle getting cover. If you’ve committed insurance fraud, your insurer will likely blacklist you. This will make it very difficult for you to obtain cover in the future. If your cover was invalidated due to an honest mistake, you won’t be blacklisted, but you might still struggle to find cover elsewhere.

Bottom line

Having your insurance invalidated can leave you out of pocket and even get you caught up in legal problems.

Your insurance can be voided for a variety of reasons, so you must make sure to read the small print of your cover for exactly what is and isn’t included and allowed under the terms of your policy.

Above all, always be completely honest with your insurer when taking out cover and, though it seems obvious, don’t engage in any illegal activity.

Frequently asked questions

*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (Mar ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £539.54

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