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What does comprehensive insurance really mean?

What does comprehensive insurance really mean?

Category: Car insurance

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

You've invested in comprehensive car insurance to provide all-round protection and financial peace of mind whenever you're on the road. But do you know what it really means – and how protected you really are? According to research from Churchill, a lot of people could be misinformed.

You may not be as protected as you think

Churchill's survey found that 35% of respondents with a UK driving licence think that a fully comprehensive policy covers them to drive any vehicle with the same level of cover, a figure that rises to 46% of those aged 18-34. However, they'd be sadly mistaken, because almost no insurers offer "open" cover for Driving Other Cars (DOC).

This option would allow the policyholder to drive cars not listed on their policy, but the fact that so few insurers offer this kind of cover means that motorists who borrow the cars of friends and family could be driving without insurance. This possibility is heightened when adding in the fact that just 24% would tell their insurer if they were planning to drive another vehicle, and only 40% have checked whether their policy covers them when driving someone else's car.

Even DOC cover can have some restrictions. It's only intended to be used for a very small proportion of time during a policy, such as if the insured customer had to drive a different car in an emergency, and is designed to offer some degree of legal protection in this scenario. It's not intended to be used on a whim and doesn't cover all eventualities, so even those with DOC cover could be driving without the right kind of protection.

Don't run the risk!

If you're not sure whether or not you're covered to drive someone else's car, don't risk it! As a general rule, you'll only be allowed to drive another car if you're listed as a named driver on the other person's policy – comprehensive car insurance may provide the highest level of protection but it doesn't mean you've got restriction-free cover, so if you're unsure, always check.

Rob Miles, director of Motor at Churchill Insurance, commented: "Fully comprehensive insurance does not cover every driver in every situation and it's worrying to see that so few motorists understand this. Drivers have a duty of care to passengers, fellow road users and pedestrians to ensure they have appropriate insurance cover in place when they get behind the wheel. Uninsured motorists drive up the cost of insurance premiums for all other drivers, and ignorance is no excuse. We'd therefore urge all motorists to check their policies before using someone else's car."

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.