With many of us packing the kitchen sink and heading off on a staycation this year, you could be invalidating your car insurance policy without even knowing. Here’s how:
Letting the dog ride shot gun
Although it may seem cute for the family dog to catch the breeze out the window, you could actually be breaking the law. That’s because rule 57 of the Highway Code states:
“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.” Gov.uk
Should you make a claim as a consequence of being distracted by your dog, your insurer may decline on the grounds that you were not following the Highway Code.
You could also be stopped by the police and fined if they consider your dog to be unsuitably restrained or causing a distraction.
Taking unnecessary risk
Did you know, if your insurer believes you took an unnecessary risk, they may not pay out? That’s not to say that if you crash in a rain shower you are uninsured, but if you have an accident whilst driving excessively fast, for example, during wet, water-logged or icy roads, you may face some questions from your insurer.
Driving through local flooding, following substantial rain, is also possibly not a good idea. Should your car be damaged, your insurance company may question why exactly you chose to drive through a large body of water in your road-hugging sports car.
Packing the bike
If you got addicted to cycling during lockdown, you’ll probably be taking the bike on staycation. You may even have treated yourself to a new bike rack. However, you probably haven’t considered a number plate board. If your bike blocks the clear view of your number plate, or is packaged/loaded dangerously, you could be fined up to £1000 by the police.
A number plate board costs approximately £25 and can be fitted on the back of the bike rack quickly and effortlessly, keeping you legal at all times.
You also need to ask your insurer whether they consider a bike rack as a modification…
Your insurance company need to know about any changes to the standard configuration of your car, however big or small. There are obvious modifications, such as performance upgrades, body kits or tinted windows. However, even things like a new car stereo can increase the chance of theft, so your insurance company need to know.
Bike racks and roof racks may all be considered as a modification by your insurer, so best to call and check.
Location, location, location
If you are lucky enough to have a second home, which due to lockdown and staycation you are spending considerable amount of time in, your insurer needs to know. Should you need to make a claim, you may find your insurer querying why your car has not been kept at its registered address.
Commuting or business use?
The morning commute may never be the same again. So, you need to consider if you are still using your car in the same way.
When taking out a policy, your insurer needs to know what you use the car for in order to assess the risk. If your use has changed, your insurer needs to know. For example, if you used to take the train to visit clients, or got the bus to work, but now drive, you could be invalidating your insurance.
If you are unsure, here are the different categories of use:
- Social, Domestic and Pleasure covers using the car for visiting friends and family and any other use not involving work or business
- Social, Domestic, Pleasure and Commuting covers you for driving to and from a fixed work location, or anywhere connected to a regular commute e.g. train/bus station
- Social, Domestic, Pleasure and Business covers you for travel to various places of work e.g. different offices.
Failure to keep your insurance company informed of a change of use could result in a claim being declined.
If you want to find out more information, get a car insurance quote, or make any policy amendments, please give our team a call on 01243 219333