We spruced up this guide on 18.12.2019. It’s a little more detailed now.
Most of the time, your car insurance won’t cover you to drive someone else’s car.
But there are some policies that will let you. They’re called Driving Other Cars (DOC) policies.
Back in the day, Driving Other Cars policies were quite common, but they don’t crop up very often these days.
Even comprehensive policies don’t usually insure you to drive other cars
When Driving Other Cars cover was more common, it was usually any comprehensive policy that covered you.
And there’s a bit of a misconception that a “comprehensive” car insurance policy means you can drive any car. But that’s not true.
Comprehensive car insurance means you’re covered for damage to your car and other people’s. These days, that’s all it guarantees you.
Driving Other Cars insurance (usually) means third party only cover
Even if you’re lucky enough to have Driving Other Cars insurance, it (usually) won’t be comprehensive.
Instead, you’ll only have third party insurance. That means you’re covered for damage to the other person’s car, but not your own, which means you could end up having to cover the cost of damage to the car you’re borrowing if you get into a scrape.
And, like with any other kind of insurance, if you have a crash while driving someone else’s car, it could make your insurance more expensive in future.
How to check if you have Driving Other Cars insurance
To find out if you’re covered to drive someone else’s car, check your policy certificate and documents. If it’s not in there, you probably don’t have it.
Not every insurer will call it Driving Other Cars cover, so look out for anything similar.
If you do have it, make sure you read the whole thing carefully, because different insurers will have different things that are and aren’t covered. Some might say it’s not valid for hire cars, or not valid for your spouse’s car. Or they might not cover you to drive certain kinds of car.
Adding Driving Other Cars cover
If you don’t have Driving Other Cars cover, you might be able to add it, as long as you have comprehensive insurance. But you’ll probably have to pay a bit more.
Make sure you double-check exactly what you’re covered for when you buy it.
When your insurance renews, your Driving Other Cars cover might not renew with it. So it’s worth either checking with your insurer that it will, or shopping around to make sure you get a new policy that gives you the right kind of cover.
Young drivers (usually) can’t get Driving Other Cars insurance
Even with fully comprehensive insurance, young drivers usually can’t add Driving Other Cars cover. Under-25s are considered too “high-risk”.
And it’s not just your age that affects whether you can add it to your policy. Some job titles are excluded, too. Especially if your job involves a lot of driving other vehicles. So if you’re in the motor trade, you’ll probably find it tricky to get DOC cover.
Driving Other Cars cover doesn’t include your other cars
If you do have Driving Other Cars cover, you still won’t be able to drive other cars you own. Each car will need its own insurance policy. That’s because the idea behind DOC cover is that you’re insured if you need to borrow a car in an emergency – it almost never covers you to drive another car regularly.
Because of this, DOC cover probably won’t cover you to drive your spouse’s car, either. If you want to do that, your best bet is to become a named driver on their policy. It’s usually pretty straightforward to become a named driver if you live at the same address.
(If you do add yourself as a named driver on your spouse’s insurance, make sure you’re not the one doing the bulk of the driving on that car. If you are, you might accidentally be “fronting”, which is a kind of insurance fraud. Fronting is when you put the lower-risk driver as the main policyholder to make it cheaper, then add a higher-risk driver as the named driver – even though the main policyholder doesn’t drive the car very often.)
If you’ve got more than one car, there are multi-car policies you could look into.
Am I covered by the owner’s insurance?
Insurance works in a slightly strange way in the UK. You don’t insure a car, and you don’t exactly insure a driver. Instead, you insure a specific driver on a specific vehicle.
This means that, even if the person who owns the car has insurance, their insurance policy won’t cover you.
And in the same way, if you have Driving Other Cars insurance, that won’t cover other people to drive your car.
You need to have either DOC cover or your own insurance policy.
So, if you don’t have Driving Other Cars (DOC) cover, you’ll need to get some kind of car sharing insurance.
Insuring someone else’s car: what are your options?
Assuming you’re not covered, that means you’ll need to get some kind of car sharing insurance. There are a few different ways you can insure a car you don’t own. Like:
- Becoming a named driver
- Getting temporary car insurance
- Taking out a full policy on their car
Otherwise, it’ll count as driving uninsured. Which usually means you’ll get a fine and 6 points. The person who let you borrow their car without insurance could also end up with points on their licence and a fine.
Up next: Can you insure a car you don’t own?