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What does my car insurance policy cover? Can I drive someone else’s car?

Are you insured to drive another car on your own insurance policy? What does comprehensive or third party insurance cover? Read our guide to find out whether you’re covered when you borrow another person’s car

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Are you insured to drive a car that’s not your own? Even if you have your own comprehensive car insurance policy, you may not be covered to drive another vehicle. Without the minimum level of cover, you’ll be driving illegally, so it’s important to understand the rules.

Many people assume that their own comprehensive car insurance policy allows them to drive another vehicle — perhaps you occasionally drive your partner’s or family member’s car assuming you get the same level of cover as they do.

But the likelihood is, you may not be covered to drive it at all unless you’re specifically named on the policy.

Does car insurance cover include ‘Driving other cars’?

If you have a comprehensive policy on your own car, you may have driving other cars (DOC) cover included. In the past, driving other cars was a fairly standard addition to comprehensive policies, but fewer insurers now offer the cover.

Although driving other cars cover does allow you to drive another vehicle, most policies will only cover you to drive other cars with third party cover, rather than the fully comprehensive cover you get on your own car.

Third party is the minimum cover you legally need to drive, and in the event of an accident your insurer will pay for any damage to third party vehicles or property, but will not pay for repairs or replacement of the car you were driving. So if you’re driving a friend’s car and get into an accident, you could be liable for any repair bills to their vehicle as this won’t be covered by insurance. This level of cover will also cover injuries caused to any third parties, including your passengers, but not to yourself. Read our guide on the different types of insurance to learn about third party, third party fire and theft, and comprehensive insurance policies.

Driving other cars cover is usually only available on a comprehensive car insurance policy. If you have third party (or third party, fire and theft) cover on your own car, you won’t be covered to drive any other cars.

Drive any car insurance - Driving someone else's car

Can everyone get ‘driving other cars’ cover?

Unfortunately, driving other cars cover is not available to everyone. Insurers will typically exclude DOC cover from your insurance policy if you are under 25, as you’re seen as a higher risk to insurers.

Some occupations are excluded too. Those in the motor trade, for example, are likely to drive their customers’ cars regularly, so insurers may take the view that you’re more likely to crash someone else’s car. If you drive your customers’ cars, your company should have its own insurance in place for those circumstances.

Things to consider

It’s important to realise that driving other cars cover should not be seen as a substitute for a full car insurance policy. If you get into an accident while driving someone else’s car, you could end up paying a hefty repair bill. If you plan to use another person’s car regularly, or even occasionally, ask for them to add you as a named driver on their insurance policy. Depending on your driving experience, it could even help to cut the cost of their cover. Alternatively, you could consider a temporary car insurance policy if you plan to borrow their vehicle as a one-off. You can even get one day cover to drive someone else’s car.

If you own a second car, don’t think you can get around getting insurance for it by using your ‘driving other cars’ cover from your first car. Driving other cars cover is an add-on intended to allow you to drive other cars in an emergency, and will not extend to other cars you own.

What if I don’t have my own insurance policy?

It’s important to understand that you can only drive a car if you have insurance — if you don’t have your own insurance policy (either on your own car including DOC cover, as a named driver on the car owner’s policy, or standalone temporary cover), you will not be legally covered to drive.

Remember that it’s not the car that’s insured — it’s the driver. So while the owner of the car may have an insurance policy for the vehicle, each driver needs to have their own insurance (with driving other cars cover), or be specifically named on the policyholder’s insurance policy.

The bottom line is you must have insurance to drive a car, whether it’s your or somebody else’s. The only exception is when you’re hiring a car or taking driving lessons in a professional instructor’s car, as the insurance will be included in the cost of the hire car or lesson.

All things considered, it’s best not to jump into a friend’s car and assume you can legally drive it, even with their permission. If you have a comprehensive policy on your own car, check your paperwork carefully to see if you’re covered to drive other cars. Alternatively, you’ll need to be named on your friend’s policy or take out your own temporary policy on the car.

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