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Using your car to move home? Here's how to stay safe and legal on the road

Did you know that moving house could land you a £300 fine, three penalty points and cause your insurance to be invalid?
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Family moving home in their car Family moving home in their car

With houses flying off the market, thousands of eager movers will be packing up their homes and loading up their cars over the coming months. But have you ever stopped to think about how doing this can affect your car insurance – and even land you in trouble with the law? If you have been involved in an accident, it's good to find out how much your insurance will go up after an accident.

Moving to a new house comes with loads of excitement, as well as a lot of worries. So to help stop your car being one of them, make sure you adhere to the laws of the road.

Don’t get overloaded

When moving house, it can be all too tempting to pack up our cars so we have to make the fewest trips possible. However, overloading your car can not only cause damage to its suspension – it could land you in trouble.

When loading up your car, you mustn't exceed your car’s Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) – regardless of what it is – otherwise you leave yourself open to trouble. Every model of car has its own official GVW, so it’s wise to check this if you’re unsure. We'd also recommend checking your tyre pressure if you’re planning on loading up your vehicle more than usual, as this can have a big impact on its performance and safety.

Don’t stick out too much

Most items we move in our cars are small things – clothes, electronics, plants. But sometimes we need to transport furniture that won't quite fit into our cars. It is legal to drive with loads that exceed your vehicle, such as a flat pack chest of drawers or large piece of wood, but there are caveats.

Any items that overhang at the rear of a car by a metre or less are usually fine without any notices or markers. Overhanging items that are between one and two metres require the end to be clearly visible. It’s wise to attach a reflective load marker or similar to ensure it’s clearly visible in all weathers and lights.

Items that overhang the side are fine as long as they are below 305mm. Having a piece of wood extend slightly out of a window, for example, is fine. But should it clearly surpass the wing mirror, you would need to provide the police two working days’ notice. 

Essentially, having an object sticking out of your car could be considered dangerous if there is a high chance it could hit another car or a pedestrian – or even distract other drivers.

Don’t forget to update your address

With so many things happening, updating your address might be the last thing on your mind. But it’s imperative you do this as soon as you move house – otherwise it can invalidate your insurance. And should the worst happen, and you have to make a claim, your provider can refuse to pay out.

Insurers usually charge an admin fee when changing addresses, and it can result in a higher – or lower – premium due to the change in postcode and parking situation (if you’re now parking on a drive instead of a road for example), but you could take the opportunity to shop around for a cheaper deal. However you will likely have to pay a fee if you cancel your policy before the renewal date.

Joel Kempson, Car Insurance Expert, says:

“A lot of the law around driving is common sense and up for interpretation. Our advice would be to check if you think your car might be dangerous and whether you think it would look dangerous to a general, careful and competent driver.

“Loading up your car and moving furniture is completely legal, and of course covered by your car insurance, but you must exercise caution. Having objects sticking out or not secured properly could lead to a police officer taking the view that it is dangerous. Similarly, if your car is too heavy to accelerate fast enough at a junction, you could be considered dangerous by the police.

So by all means, use your car to help you move house and transport furniture, just make sure it is not likely to cause a danger to either a person or property.

Dangerous driving carries severe penalties – including imprisonment in more severe cases, so as with everything, it’s best to veer on the side of caution.”