Debunked: myths about driving someone else’s car

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If you can drive and have car insurance, you might think it’s ok to get behind the wheel of someone else’s car, but is it? Of course, like most things, the answer isn’t quite as straightforward as a simple  ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  So, to help you work out fact from fiction, comparison site https://www.mustard.co.uk/car-insurance/ help debunk some common misconceptions when it comes to driving other people’s cars. 

Myth one: comprehensive insurance means I can drive someone else’s car

This is one of the biggest assumptions made about driving other cars (DOC) but the facts are a bit more nuanced.  

While some comprehensive policies do let you drive other cars, not all of them do. If your policy does include DOC cover, it will be clearly set out within your policy documents. Remember that you’ll also need the vehicle owner’s permission to drive the car. 

Many people assume comp cover gives you the automatic right to drive other cars because in the past this was the standard for the majority of policies. Nowadays this just simply isn’t the case so it’s vital to check.  

Myth two: if DOC cover is included in my policy, I get the same level of protection

This is definitely a myth based on wishful thinking. If your comprehensive policy does allow you to drive other people’s cars, it will only give you third party only protection. This is the lowest level of cover you can have in the UK.

Third party only (TPO) cover compensates other people for damage or injury you cause. For example, if you didn’t brake in time and went into the back of another car, TPO pays to fix the car you damaged. It will also cover compensation costs if the driver of the other car was injured (for instance, if they ended up with whiplash). 

Crucially, third party only cover does not pay to repair the car you’re driving and it won’t compensate you if you’re injured in the accident. 

Myth three: I can drive someone else’s car in an emergency

This is another dangerous myth that can inadvertently get you into trouble if you believe it. It really doesn’t matter whether or not it’s an emergency situation. The bottom line is that driving someone else’s car without appropriate insurance is the same as not having car insurance at all in the eyes of the law.  

Appropriate car insurance means you must have DOC (and the car owner’s permission) or you must be insured in some other way. Alternative methods include being added as a named driver on the car owner’s policy or having short-term (temporary) cover in place. 

If you’re caught without suitable car cover, you risk six penalty points, a £300 fine and in the worst case scenario, you could be disqualified from driving. 

Myth four: DOC cover is the same as temporary car insurance

DOC cover is not the same as temporary car insurance but they are similar in the sense that both enable you to drive someone else’s car. 

However, DOC is very much an option that arises through last minute necessity, for example if you need to drive a family member or friend’s car because they can’t. 

On the other hand, temporary or short-term insurance is something you can arrange in advance if you know you’ll need to borrow someone’s car (like if you’re going on a road trip and have decided to share the driving). Temporary cover is also incredibly flexible and you can buy policies that last as little as one hour up to a few weeks or even a couple of months. 

Another benefit is that short term cover acts as a standalone policy. It means that if you make a claim, it won’t affect your no claims bonus and it won’t affect the driver’s main policy either. 

Myth five: anyone can get DOC added if they ask for it

If DOC isn’t already part of your policy and you think it would be a useful addition, you can ask for it to be included as an optional extra for a small fee. However, this is at your insurer’s discretion and they aren’t obliged to agree. 

Fundamentally, whether or not you’re eligible for DOC comes down to your circumstances. If your insurer considers you to be at high risk of making a claim, you could struggle to find DOC cover. 

Factors that can stop you from getting DOC, include:

  • Your age — as younger drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in a car accident.
  • The job you do — if you’re in and out of cars a lot (for example if you work in the motor trade or as a hotel valet), there’s a higher chance of you making a claim compared to other occupations. 
  • Your claims history — a recent car insurance claim could mean you’re refused DOC cover.
  • Having a criminal conviction — convicted drivers often find it difficult to find affordable car insurance in general and DOC may not be an available option.

Compare affordable car insurance 

With everyday costs soaring, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting the very best value for money. Car insurance is no exception so whether you’re looking for short-term cover or need to renew your annual policy, you can compare quotes from leading insurers at mustard.co.uk.