Urgent warning for drivers to avoid common car insurance loopholes that could cause huge bills if things go wrong

DRIVERS could be forced to pay out eye-watering bills if they fail to avoid common car insurance loopholes.

Consumer champions Which? have revealed a catalogue of sneaky ways motorists are being charged over the odds, including gaps in cover for personal belongings.


When researchers analysed 73 elements of insurance across 49 policies from 34 insurers, they found a number of problems many drivers will encounter won't be covered.

While almost all policies provided personal belongings cover, which helps drivers replace or repair items damaged or stolen from the car, not all possessions are included.

Just two policies protected cash and documents, and only three covered credit cards.

Four in 10 policies with personal possessions cover exclude mobile phones.

Legal expenses cover can provide invaluable access to legal advice and funding, but can also prove toothless in certain scenarios.

Which? found that only a quarter of policies will pay for drivers to recover illegal clamping or towing fees, while just three in 10 will help deal with legal costs related to their car’s licence plate being cloned.

Almost all policies have some provision for courtesy car cover as standard.

INSURANCE LOOPHOLES

However, only a fifth offer a temporary replacement vehicle if yours is stolen or written off.

Most policies do have options to upgrade this feature to make it more comprehensive, but drivers should not consider full cover a given.

The rarest feature offered by insurers is guaranteed cover for driving other cars.

This type of cover is useful if, in a pinch, you needed to quickly borrow a friend’s car.

While almost all the policies Which? reviewed have a ‘driving other cars’ section, in all but NFU Mutual’s policy, it is not automatically accessible to all policyholders.

Drivers of certain ages – usually under 25 – are generally excluded from this cover, as well as those in certain occupations .

In more a third of policies, it only applies in emergencies.

Seven in 10 policies offer help in the event you fill your petrol tank with diesel – or vice versa – but only one in five will assist with both draining the tank and repairing the engine.

AVIVA IS LOWEST-RATED

Half of policies do one or the other.

To find the standout providers that can be relied upon to deliver both quality of service and cover, the consumer champion surveyed more than 1,800 policyholders who have made a car insurance claim in the past two years.

Of the 13 firms polled, NFU Mutual topped the table, with customers praising the insurer’s ability to deal with queries and value for money.

NFU mutual also achieved a top rating in 47 of the 73 policy elements Which? examined, including guarantees of repairs and a guaranteed courtesy car. Its ‘total score’ was 86 per cent.

Other top performers included LV (78%), Saga (78%) and Direct Line (76%).

Admiral (63%), Hastings Direct (65%) and Aviva (66%) achieved the lowest total scores.

Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor, said: “Our research shows that motorists risk facing hefty bills when things go wrong as a large number of policies don’t cover incidents or possessions you might expect.

"With the cost of living biting, this means car problems could be disastrous for those on low incomes, or with limited savings.

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“We would urge drivers to read the small print. If you’re comparing two similarly priced policies, the bills you can rack up by falling foul of car insurance loopholes could dwarf the extra amount you would pay for the more expensive cover.

“Anyone who’s unhappy with how their insurer has handled a claim should always shop around when it’s time to renew.

"You could save hundreds of pounds by switching insurers, while getting the right cover to suit your needs.”

The 10 things that are least likely to be covered by your car insurance

The percentage of policies cov

  • Guaranteed cover for driving other cars: just two per cent of policies cover this
  • Personal belongings (cash): four per cent
  • Personal belongings (documents): four per cent
  • Personal belongings (credit cards): six per cent
  • Misfuelling (fuel drainage and engine damage): 18 per cent
  • Legal expenses (as standard): 20 per cent
  • Replacement vehicle (total loss as standard): 20 per cent
  • Misfuelling (fuel damage): 20 per cent
  • Temporary replacement vehicle for stolen car (as standard): 22 per cent
  • Legal expenses – illegal clamping or towing fees: 24 per cent

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