Voided and cancelled car insurance

Having your insurance cancelled or voided can lead to serious problems. Find out how to avoid it and what you should do if happens.

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What is voided car insurance?

Voided car insurance is any policy that has been ruled invalid by the insurer. There are a number of reasons this may happen, but the most common is that the customer fails to pay their premium, or has submitted false or incorrect information to the insurer.

If an insurance provider voids a car insurance policy, it is equivalent down to that policy never having existed and no protection ever being in place. This, in turn, means that any claim being made will not be successful.

Ultimately, you’ll want to avoid having your car insurance voided or cancelled at all costs. But to do that, you’ll need to understand how this could happen in the first place.

What’s the difference between voided and cancelled car insurance?

If you want to avoid having your car insurance voided or cancelled, it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

As explained above, voided car insurance will mean that an insurance provider has reason to completely invalidate your car insurance, leaving you unprotected.

Cancelled car insurance means that a policy, although valid for part of the policy duration, has for some reason been terminated before the policy was due to end.

Why was my car insurance cancelled or voided?

There could be several reasons why an insurance provider might cancel or void a car insurance policy, but these reasons tend to fall into one of four categories:

Non-payment

If you fail to pay for your insurance premiums on time or you miss payments altogether, your insurance company is likely to contact you to remind you about outstanding premium payments. It might also start discussions about putting in place an alternative arrangement for making the missed payments.

Although your insurance provider can cancel your policy at any time, it will have to give you sufficient warning before doing so.

Fraud

Each insurance company will have its own set of guidelines around what it classes as fraud, but most will generally include the following:

  • Driving without a full and valid driver’s licence
  • The policyholder of the car insurance not being the main driver in order to lower premiums, known as “fronting”
  • False information about what the car is used for
  • False information about where the car is kept overnight
  • False no claims discount certificates passed on to insurers for discounts
  • Faking a car being stolen
  • Faking an accident

Non-disclosure or omission

If your insurance provider finds out about information that you failed to share when taking out the car insurance policy, it could decide to cancel or void your policy. This non-disclosure of information can relate to previously cancelled insurance policies, claims history, driving convictions or even medical conditions that could affect your ability to drive safely.

Failing to inform your insurer when your circumstances change (like when you change jobs or move) can also falls into this category.

An insurance provider will usually view each non-disclosure case separately and base its decision on how serious the issue is. For example, if the non-disclosure was an innocent mistake of information being missed off the car insurance application form, the provider may be more forgiving.

If, on the other hand, information was specifically kept from an insurance provider, the company may decide to cancel your protection altogether.

Not reading the small print

You can sometimes invalidate your policy by doing something you didn’t even realise was wrong.

Things like the number of people you are allowed to have in your car and what you’re allowed to use your car for can vary between different policies and providers, so make sure you know exactly what your policy includes and what it forbids you to do to avoid any issues.

Common ways your car insurance could be voided

Avoid an insurance company invalidating your car insurance for one of these reasons:

  • Failing to report accidents. Whether they are little scrapes or big bumps, you should report all incidents to your insurer, even if you don’t intend to claim for it.
  • Underestimating the number of miles you travel. When you take out a policy, you will be asked how many miles you travel per year. Make sure you note this figure as accurately as possible.
  • Failing to disclose what you actually use your car for. Some companies won’t cover your car for business use or even commuting to work.
  • Using your car for races, competitions or rallies. Driving on roads known to be particularly dangerous can also invalidate your policy.
  • Failing to pay for your insurance premium. Missing one payment is unlikely to invalidate your policy, but consistently failing to pay can become a serious issue.
  • Making certain modifications to your car. Some kinds of modifications might be covered, but it’s important to check with your insurer first.
  • Changing your car during the policy term. You can do this without in validating your policy, as long as you don’t change your car to one that your insurer is unable to offer cover for.
  • Failing to disclose previous claims, penalty points or convictions. Being completely open and honest with your insurer is extremely important.
  • Driving in a natural disaster. Most insurers don’t cover natural disasters – otherwise knows as “acts of God”. While earthquakes and tornadoes don’t pose a real threat in the UK, this exclusion can also include storms. If you drive abroad, you might come across some known natural disaster areas and your policy may not cover to drive through those.
  • Allowing your car to be driven by someone unnamed on your policy. Some people may be covered to drive any car through their own insurer, but make sure your own company allows them to drive your car.
  • Driving your car without a full and valid driver’s licence. This one is pretty obvious, as driving without a licence is illegal. Some companies only cover drivers with UK or EU licences.
  • Charging for rides. Excepting money to drive people around will almost certainly invalidate your insurance policy, regardless of which insurer you’re with. Not only that, but you could also be fined up to £2,500 and have your vehicle seized. This includes offering your driving services through apps like Uber and Bolt. If this is something you need, you can get business insurance with specialist providers, like Zego.
  • Failing to maintain your car. While even very well maintained cars can be involved in accidents, it’s important to make sure you take great care of your car to reduce the risk of an accident caused by a mechanical fault.

To avoid any of the above being used against you and your insurance policy, be as honest as you can and check the terms and conditions carefully to ensure your cover is valid at all times.

Surprising ways your car insurance could be voided

The reasons given above for why some car insurance premiums are voided are fairly standard – it’s easy to understand why insurers have an issue with these.

However, you can also accidentally void your car insurance policy by doing something seemingly innocent, like wearing the wrong shoes.

Unexpected reasons for a car insurance policy to be cancelled include:

  • Wearing the wrong shoes. Some footwear, like flip flops and platform shoes, are considered inappropriate for driving, as they might affect your ability to operate the car’s controls safely. It’s not illegal to drive in them (or even to drive barefoot), but investing in a pair of driving shoes and keeping these in the car to wear while driving can help you stay on the safe side with both your driving and your insurance policy.
  • An obstructed windscreen. If you drive with morning frost, mud or dirt on your windscreen and have an accident, your insurer might refuse to pay out. You claim can also be rejected if your insurer believes that an accident was caused by an item suspended from the mirror or hanging in your windscreen affecting your line of vision or causing a distraction, so take off that air freshener (or get one that clips to your air vent).
  • Going for a ride with your friends. You are of course allowed to offer rides to people (though check your policy details for any restrictions), but make sure you never overload the car with either people or things. ‘Squeezing’ everybody in on the way to or from the party may seem like a laugh, but it can leave you on the wrong side of the law and your insurance company.
  • Unleashed pets in the vehicle. If you take any four-legged friend along for a ride in your car, you must make sure they are correctly restrained. Under no circumstances should they be sitting in the front seat or on your lap. This protects you from invalidating your insurance policy and helps to keep them safe in case of an accident.
  • Getting valet parking. This service appears more in American movies and TV shows then at UK business, but its popularity is growing locally. If you’re fancy enough to go somewhere that offers valet parking, be aware that handing your keys over might invalidate your policy, as many insurers won’t cover you if your car’s damaged while in the care of a valet.
  • Parking on an airport runway. We’ve included this one mainly for fun, as you’re unlikely to be able to get your car on an airport runway, even if you wanted to (and why would you want to?). On a more serious note, many insurance policies exclude any loss or damage from pressure waves caused by aircrafts travelling at or above the speed of sound. If your house is very close to an airport, this might affect you, so talk to your insurer if you any doubts.
  • What happens if your insurance is voided or cancelled?

    If your insurance provider informs you that your car insurance policy has been voided or cancelled, it’s important that you don’t bury your head in the sand. Instead, it will be better if you contact your insurer immediately to find out why your policy has been cancelled. That way, you may be able to rectify the issue quickly.

    Once your policy is cancelled and you have been given an explanation as to why this decision was reached, you will need to look for alternative car insurance immediately as your car will have no valid cover in place.

    If you are not happy with your insurer’s decision for cancelling or voiding your policy, you may be able to make an appeal, but the quicker you act, the more likely you are to find a solution.

    Unfortunately, having a car insurance policy cancelled or voided, even if the reason wasn’t your fault, can mean you have to pay more for cover in future, or struggle to find a policy to cover you.

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