Insurance Myths Mean Motorists Might Not Have The Cover They Think

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Thousands of UK motorists relying on urban myths and not reading the small print on their car insurance

Thousands of UK motorists relying on urban myths and not reading the small print on their car insurance policies are running a major risk of not being covered to the extent they think they are, according to new research.

The research, undertaken on behalf of swiftcover.com, found British drivers to be extremely confused as to what is and isn't covered by their insurance. For example, while eating and smoking behind the wheel might not be a criminal offence, many drivers are not aware that they could be accused of negligence if involved in an accident while smoking or eating; resulting in a drastically reduced payout.

The main findings were as follows:

Driving other people's cars
Hopping behind the wheel of your partner or friend's car might seem like a perfectly acceptable thing to do - indeed a third (29 per cent) of drivers polled assumed that they would be insured through their own insurance. In fact, most car insurance policies only insure drivers if it's included in the small print, and rarely offer more than third party cover.

swiftcover.com's advice: Don't just assume you'll be covered - if you need to drive someone else's car, check your insurance policy.

Eating, smoking and using a mobile behind the wheel
65 per cent of drivers eat whilst driving and 36 per cent still smoke. swiftcover.com's poll found that over a fifth of British motorists don't know whether they would be covered regardless if they were in an accident - in fact they could be caught for negligence if caught eating or smoking while an accident occurred, even if the accident wasn't their fault.

swiftcover.com's advice: Drive safe - drivers' reaction times are 50 per cent slower when on the phone, eating or smoking, whilst the Highway Code recently listed eating and smoking as dangerous distractions.

Underrating your mileage
Not telling your insurer when you exceed your mileage can invalidate your policy. swiftcover.com's poll showed that a quarter (25.8 per cent) of motorists didn't know whether driving over their stated mileage would affect their insurance cover - whilst nearly a fifth (16.1 per cent) stated that it wouldn't.

swiftcover.com's advice: Keep a check and always inform your insurer if your circumstances change.

Petrol v diesel
Putting the wrong kind of fuel into your car is not something anyone wants to do - but thousands of British motorists each year get it wrong. Unfortunately, this can be a costly mistake - as many policies won't cover this. Worryingly, 10 per cent of people assumed their policy would cover this.

swiftcover.com's advice: Always double-check at the pump - an engine strip-down costs thousands of pounds, and this is not something you want to have to pay for.

Tina Shortle of swiftcover.com commented, "While choosing the lowest price car insurance policy is most people's objective, it is also important to know exactly what is and isn't covered. Drivers make a lot of assumptions about their policies, so it's best to read all terms and conditions carefully and to regularly review the terms."

The research was carried out via Survey Monkey in April 2008 and polled 386 drivers throughout the UK.

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Victoria Roe

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