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ABI clarifies insurance position on non-essential car journeys

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Written by: Emma Lunn
10/11/2020
Claims that non-essential trips will invalidate car insurance during lockdown have been dismissed by the insurance trade body.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has stepped in to clear up confusion about what drivers are covered for during lockdown.

A statement from the trade body said: “During lockdown the government has advised against all but essential travel. Motor insurers continue to cover those using their vehicle for commuting to work and NHS volunteering without you having to first tell them.

“You should follow government restrictions, but if you do use your car for non-essential travel, you will not risk invalidating your car insurance.”

The clarification came after Florence Codjoe of Uswitch.com told the Daily Mirror that non-essential trips may not be covered. She said: “You could end up paying thousands for repairs. If you’re unsure about cover during lockdown, speak to your insurer for clarification.”

The claim was repeated by several other news outlets.

Essential travel is largely defined as ­shopping for necessities, picking up medical supplies, caring for a vulnerable person, and getting to and from work.

The ABI has also confirmed you currently don’t need to contact your insurer if you have to drive to and from your workplace because of the impact of Covid-19, but your insurance policy doesn’t normally cover commuting. This support will last until 31 December 2020.

However, there are some car insurance risks associated with lockdown and if you don’t maintain your car adequately you might find you’re not covered.

According to money.co.uk, nearly half of UK drivers have put off servicing or essential car maintenance during 2020.

The survey of motorists found that just under a fifth (17%) are driving with at least one service light or warning sign on their vehicle, with more than half (64%) of those saying they didn’t see the point in addressing the issue immediately as they rarely use their vehicle.

Tyre maintenance was the most commonly ignored issue, with the majority (68%) of drivers saying they hadn’t checked their tyres since the beginning of the year.

Other maintenance issues likely to be ignored included interim services (38%), oil checks/changes (28%), unrecognised warning lights (21%) and washer fluid (15%).

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert for money.co.uk, said: “With most regular drivers making smaller, more infrequent journeys, it’s easy to see why some might be tempted to put off repairs and maintenance, especially particularly expensive work. However, doing so could have serious consequences to the safety of your journey, and even invalidate your insurance.

“Most insurance policies will require you to keep your car in a roadworthy state, which includes ensuring your tyres and lights meet the minimum legal requirements.

“This means if you were to have an accident and it was found that you didn’t do so, you could risk your insurance being invalidated, leaving you to foot the bill. This is in addition to legal implications which could see you fined and receive penalty points which could impact your ability to get insurance in the future.”

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