Why you can't test drive without car insurance
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Taking a car for a test drive is an important step to make sure it's right for you.

But you’ll need to have insurance before taking your dream motor for a spin.

We explain why you need car insurance for a test drive and how to get the right cover.

In the UK specific drivers need insurance for specific cars

The UK car insurance system is slightly different from other countries.

Here, individual drivers need to be insured on individual vehicles.

This means that even if you have insurance for your own car, you may not be covered to drive a car you don’t own.

Similarly, just because you have a policy for your own vehicle doesn’t mean that other people are insured to drive it.

So you’ll need to have car cover for each vehicle you plan on driving.

Cars always need to be insured

In the UK, every car that’s on the road has to be insured all the time under motoring laws called Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE).

This means that you need car insurance for every car that you own.

If you already have a car and want to buy a new one, there are a few ways to get it covered.

You can either switch your existing policy to the new car or cancel your car insurance and buy a new policy.

Some insurers offer “temporary additional vehicle’ cover. This lets you add a second car to an existing policy temporarily without having to buy brand new insurance.

Whichever option you choose, your old car needs to be insured, even if you plan on selling it.

The only way to own a car without having it insured is to declare it “off-road” with a Statutory Off-Road Notice (SORN).

Registering your car as SORN means that it doesn’t have to be insured, taxed or MOT’d.

Once a car is declared off-road, no one will be allowed to drive it.

So if you’d like to sell your car soon, you’d be better off buying insurance.

Check if the car dealer has test driving insurance

Although many car dealers have extended insurance to cover you during a test drive, it’s always worth double-checking before getting behind the wheel.

If the dealer or seller doesn’t have cover, you’ll need to buy car insurance for your test drive.

Getting car insurance for a test drive

There are two main ways of getting insurance for a test drive:

Driving other cars cover

Driving Other Cars cover (DOC) could insure you during a test drive.

It’s included in some fully comprehensive car policies and insures you to drive cars you don’t own.

DOC isn’t a common policy feature these days and is usually limited to third party only cover.

Third party cover is a type of car insurance that only covers damage to other people’s cars or injury to other persons.

If you already have car insurance, it’s worth checking to see if DOC is included in your policy.

You can find out if you have DOC by checking your insurance certificate.

If anything is unclear, get in touch with your insurer. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s included.

Temporary car insurance

Temporary car insurance offers policies ranging from one hour up to a month.

It’s really handy if you only need insurance for a short period of time, like a test drive.

Unlike DOC, temporary car insurance is fully comprehensive which means it covers damage to the car you’re driving as well.

You’ll need to get a new temporary policy for each car you want to drive.

So if you plan on test driving five cars you’ll need to buy five different policies.

The amount you pay for each policy could vary depending on a range of factors like your:

Try our free car checker if you’re unsure about any vehicle details.

Enter the car registration and it’ll show you everything from its mileage to MOT history. 🚗

What do if you have an accident during a test drive

If you have an accident while test driving a car, you may need to make an insurance claim.

You’ll also need to let your insurer know because all vehicle accidents are recorded in something called the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE).

It includes any incidents where:

  • You were a named driver
  • It wasn’t your fault
  • You didn’t claim
  • You were driving a different kind of vehicle - e.g a van or a motorbike

Always be honest about any accidents you get into.

Insurers check the CUE and may cancel your policy if they find you’ve tried to hide one.

Do you need insurance to drive a new car home?

Cars always need to be insured unless they are declared “off-road.”

Some dealerships may offer short-term policies for up to 7 days, to insure you for the drive home.

These policies may be limited to third-party cover, in which case damage to your car wouldn’t be included.

If you haven’t got full car insurance set up by the time you buy a car and you’d rather have a comprehensive policy, it might be worth looking into temporary car insurance.

Getting insurance for a second-hand car

If you’re buying a second-hand car from a private seller, you’ll need to get your own insurance.

Even if the seller has insurance for the car, their policy probably won’t cover you.

You can't transfer their car insurance over to you either.

Before test-driving a second-hand car, check whether its MOT and tax are up to date.

The seller should have these details available but if you’re in doubt our MOT checker can help.

It’ll show you everything you need to know about the vehicle’s MOT history, failed tests and tax data.

Driving without insurance

Driving without insurance is illegal and could result in some hefty penalties.

The police could give you a £300 fine and six penalty points if you’re caught driving without cover.

If your case goes to court, you could get an unlimited fine or be banned from driving altogether (and nobody wants that!)

Always check that you have the right car insurance before getting behind the wheel.

Updated on 24th November 2020

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