Car insurance has been a legal requirement in the UK since 1930. The minimum level of insurance - third party - means you're covered if you caused damage or injury to people, property or animals. At the other end of the spectrum, ‘fully comp’ ensures you have maximum coverage - including for damage to your own vehicle.

Since 2011, continuous enforcement legislation came into effect, meaning there mustn't be any periods during which you're not insured.

If the police catch you behind the wheel of a car you're not insured to drive, you could face a £300 fixed penalty and 6 penalty points. But if the case goes to court you could face an unlimited fine or be disqualified from driving altogether.

Being uninsured also means if anyone is injured or killed when you're behind the wheel - or if their property is damaged - they would not receive any insurance payment.

So staying up to date with your car insurance - and ensuring all your details are correct - is one of the most important aspects of car ownership.

To help, we’ve listed some of the most common ways motorists invalidate their insurance (whether wittingly or unwittingly). Be aware this list is not exhaustive!

Providing false information to get a lower premium

Things like your profession or how far you drive can have a big impact on how much you pay for cover. However, if you're caught lying about your job or your mileage in order to reduce your premium, your insurance could be cancelled or even voided.

Inaccurate parking location

You need to tell your insurer where your vehicle will normally be kept. It's fine if your car is occasionally parked at a different address, but if you start keeping your vehicle in a different postcode for long periods, it may impact the validity of your car insurance. If you change where you normally park, you should inform your cover provider as soon as possible.

Keeping your insurer up to date with any changes

Certain professions are regarded as higher risk than others, while particular locations suffer higher crime rates than others. As such, it is critical to tell your insurer of a job or address change. If you don't, your insurer may refuse to pay out if you have an accident. It's also important if you expect your mileage to go up (or down). And don't forget, in some circumstances your premium may actually be reduced!

Keys on car insurance document


Beware ghost broking scams

If your provider is a 'direct' insurer this means they won’t use 'middleman' services to obtain business. With ghost broking scams, people posing as insurance brokers purchase a policy from a real provider, then give a doctored policy to their unwitting motorist victims (or sometimes just create a completely fake document). Needless to say, if a scam broker takes out a policy from a 'direct insurer' and sells it on, the policy won’t be honoured. It's therefore crucial to check the credentials of any insurance broker - and double-check they have reproduced all your details accurately (otherwise the cover will be invalidated).

Incorrect class of use

When you take out an insurance policy you need to tell the provider what you will be using your vehicle for.

Common classes of use include:

  • Social
  • Business
  • Commuting
  • Carriage of goods for hire and reward (e.g. couriers)

So, for instance, driving to the train station in order to travel to work would be classed as 'commuting' and would not fall under 'social'. Equally, if you drive between different work sites as part of your job, you will need the 'business' class of use coverage. You need to choose the right class of use in order to be covered. Contact your insurer if you're not sure which to select during your policy application.

Not keeping your vehicle roadworthy

It is your responsibility to keep on top of your vehicle's maintenance. You're also required to always drive sensibly. If you're deemed to have failed on either of these counts, your insurance may be invalidated.

Letting an unnamed driver use your car

You should only let named drivers use your car. If you let anyone else behind the wheel of your vehicle, your insurance will be regarded as invalid.

However, if you let someone drive your car who has the 'driving other cars' extension on their policy, they will have third party cover.

Bear in mind this means there will be no cover for damage to your own vehicle - among other events.

To have full coverage, only named drivers should use your car.

Not telling your insurer about incidents

As part of your policy agreement, you are required to tell your insurer if any damage occurs to your vehicle - whether minor or major. Various issues can arise if you don’t. A third party may report an incident to their insurer, putting your provider in a challenging situation. Problems could also arise if minor damage goes unreported before a more serious incident - potentially resulting in an invalidated claim.

Unusual motoring practises

If you decide to begin rally driving or motorsport racing, chances are your regular car insurance policy will not cover you. Be sure to read the General Exclusions if you're unsure where or how you can use your vehicle (and still expect your insurance to remain in place!).

Mileage underestimation

Those miles can soon add up - so it's important to carefully work out how many miles you're likely to drive in a year. For example, if you cover 25 miles a day getting to work and back, this will amount to 125 miles a week - which could be as much as 1,300 miles a year. So, telling your insurer you drive under 1,000 miles annually would be a substantial underestimation. Needless to say, if your insurer finds out you were economical with the truth, you could face higher premiums - or even have your insurance invalidated.

Modifications that void your cover

Not all modifications and optional extras will be covered by insurers, so it's critical to be honest and accurate when you apply for cover (which can be tricky as some carmakers have a lot of optional extras!). Equally, if any changes are made to your vehicle you need to inform your provider straight away - even if it's something apparently very minor.