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Is commuting covered by my car insurance during lockdown if I need to drive to work?

You have to tell your insurer what you plan to use your car for when you take out cover - be that commuting, business, social or a mix of them - but with coronavirus affecting people’s work and social habits, are you still covered if you’ve been forced into changing how you use your car? The good news is that the Association of British Insurers has extended its pledge to insure drivers who have to use their car for work until 30 April 2021.

Driver with Covid mask

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What is the latest car insurance extension pledge?

The ABI has extended the current pledge that if you have to drive to and from your workplace because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, your insurance policy will not be affected. 

ABI general insurance manager Laura Hughes said: “Despite a year like no other, it is good to see that during 2020 motorists continued to get the best deals in a competitive motor insurance market. 

“In addition, the extra support that insurers continue to give to motorists during this uncertain and unsettling time is helping drivers adapt to this ‘new normal’.”

This extension to cover is one of the ways car insurers are supporting drivers during Covid.

Do I still need car insurance during the Covid pandemic?  

Yes you do. It is still a legal requirement to drive on a UK road with at least third-party car insurance cover.

Even if it’s just parked up, your car needs either needs to be insured or SORNed to make sure you’re not hit with a fine.

Read our guide to the different types of car insurance and compare car insurance quotes.

What happens to drivers who don’t have insurance during the Covid pandemic?

There are concerns that the coronavirus pandemic might lead to a rise in the number of uninsured drivers.

  • Between October and November 2020, just before the second national lockdown, all 43 UK police forces were involved in a national effort to help reduce uninsured driving levels

  • Operation Drive Insured was a week-long campaign developed by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) in partnership with the National Roads Policing Operations, Intelligence and Investigation (NRPOII) committee

MIB chief operating officer Anna Fleming said: “The sad reality is with Covid-19 putting so many people under financial strain, uninsured driving levels could creep up.”

Current figures show:

  • 130 people are killed and 26,000 are left injured in collisions caused by uninsured and untraced drivers each year

  • Uninsured drivers are more likely to commit a ‘hit and run’ and be involved in other crimes

  • The MIB, which is funded by insurers and ultimately consumers to provide financial support to victims of uninsured and untraced collisions, paid out £322 million in compensation in 2019

The number of claims for compensation from victims of uninsured drivers has fallen 26% since 2016.

However, with so many people suffering financial hardship due to the disruption of Covid-19, there are growing concerns that this could result in more people breaking the law and driving without insurance.

To check if a vehicle is showing as insured on MID (Motor Insurance Database), drivers can look for free at www.askmid.com.

How does the Covid car insurance extension work?

Car insurance policies will include different levels of cover depending on what you use your car for.

  • If your cover includes commuting you are automatically covered for your journey to and from work

  • But if your policy covers you for social, domestic and pleasure use then you may not necessarily be covered for your journey to and from work

Following the first Coronavirus lockdown members of the Association of British Insurers agreed to cover journeys to work, so long as it was only a journey to and from work.

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Who is the car insurance extension aimed at?

The extension is aimed at helping those in essential jobs avoid having to use public transport.

Does it apply to all car insurance policies?

The extension applies to insurance companies that are members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Most UK insurance companies are members of the ABI so you may want to check the ABI website.  

The extension also doesn’t apply to all types of car insurance.

I have to use my car for work - am I covered?

While many insurers will also automatically cover your car if you commute to and from work – you will need to take out business car insurance if you need to use your car to do your job.  

You will need to have extra car insurance if, for example:  

  • Your job involves you driving between different sites

  • You need to drive your car to deliver goods or a service

So, if you are a care worker who needs to drive to see clients, a cleaner who visits different houses or a doctor on home visits then you will not be covered by normal car insurance.

Have I got cover to use my car for work?  

It depends what cover you have. These are the different types of car insurance cover:

Social, domestic and pleasure

This covers a named driver for normal day-to-day use including visiting friends and family, shopping or trips out. 

Social and commuting: 

The same as the social, domestic and pleasure but also for driving to and from work:

Commuting includes:

  • Travelling to a railway station to travel to work

  • Dropping someone else off at their place of work 

Business car insurance

This includes social and commuting cover, but also if you use your car for work. It is not the same as commercial use, which you need if you were to use your car for extended periods, for example if you are a long-distance driver or taxi/cab/car share driver. 

When do I need to take out business car insurance?

Business car insurance is not the same as commercial car insurance.

  • If you are a taxi, cab or a rideshare driver then you will need commercial car insurance

  • If you drive a van for business, you will need van insurance

How does business car insurance work?

There are three different levels, or classes, of business car insurance:

  • Business car insurance class 1 This is generally the cheapest type of business car insurance and covers your car if you have to drive to different places to work, such as visiting clients or patients.

  • Business car insurance class 2 Similar to class 1, but you can add a named driver on a class 2 policy, such as a colleague. This cover is likely to be more expensive than class 1.

  • Business car insurance class 3 This class of insurance is the most comprehensive and covers long-distance driving. It is the most expensive cover, but it will not cover you if you are using your car to deliver merchandise, for that you will need commercial car insurance.

I’m a key worker, do I need car insurance or business car insurance?

ABI member organisations have also pledged to extend car insurance cover for key workers who are using their cars for business and any volunteers using vehicles.

Does the car insurance extension still extend to volunteers?

If you use your car on a voluntary basis, such as to deliver medicines or food and supplies to people impacted by Covid-19, then your cover will not be affected. 

The ABI has also extended this to NHS volunteers who are helping transport patients and medical supplies as well as those involved in the roll-out of the vaccine. 

Do I need to speak to my insurer to extend my insurance?

If your insurer is a member of the ABI, you do not need to speak to your insurance company. You will need to speak to your insurer if you have to use your car for more than just travelling to and from work.

“In addition, the extra support that insurers continue to give to motorists during this uncertain and unsettling time is helping drivers adapt to this ‘new normal’” - ABI

Can I get a car insurance refund if I don’t use my car?

Some insurers have been offering refunds to reflect fewer miles being driven during the lockdowns, as well helping customers who are concerned at being able to keep paying their premiums by instalments due to the pandemic.

However, not every insurance provider is offering a goodwill gesture, so if you haven’t heard from them, you should check your provider’s website or contact them directly to see if you could receive a discount or money back.

If the number of miles you drive has changed significantly, you should speak to your insurer and inform them so they can update your policy to reflect this. 

You could receive a partial refund on an annual policy or see your monthly payments drop as a result.

Is my car insurance going to cost more because of Covid-19?

It’s not quite clear yet what the long-term impact of the coronavirus outbreak will be.

The ABI’s latest Motor Insurance Premium Tracker, published in January 2021, found that the average price paid for comprehensive motor insurance in 2020 was £465, a drop of 1% over the year and the lowest level since 2016. 

I’m a student – am I covered during Covid?

While you are a student you may still be covered but if you start to use your car for commuting because you have finished your studies and are now in employment you will need to check with your insurer whether you need commuting cover, or - if you are using your car for your job - business car insurance.

Coronavirus Q & A

What if I can't keep up repayments on my car?

If you still owe money on car finance, you have until 31 March 2021 to request a payment holiday.

The payment freeze lasts a maximum of six months. If you’re still having payment difficulties, you will need to ask your lender for tailored support.

Do I still need car insurance if I am not driving my car?

If you are struggling to pay your insurance and your financial situation has been impacted by coronavirus then contact your insurer. You will need car insurance if you want to drive your car.

Should I change my car insurance cover because of Covid?

If your insurer decides your current policy no longer meets your needs due to coronavirus, they might suggest an alternative policy that is more suitable.

Any charges and fees you would normally have to pay for switching or to make changes to your policy should be waived.

Some examples of how your needs might have changed include:

  • You are no longer using your vehicle to travel to and from work

  • You no longer use your vehicle for business use

  • You no longer having any use for your vehicle at all

  • Your mileage has reduced 

You might also no longer have need of some extras attached to your policy such as:

  • Replacement key cover 

  • Breakdown cover

  • Courtesy car

  • International travel cover

We explain car insurance add-ons and extras 

Should I consider declaring my car SORN?

Getting a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) means you won’t need car insurance or tax, but you must not drive or park your car on a public road.

Find out how to SORN a car here

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