Car insurance is a great thing to have, but you should make sure you’re not doing anything that could void your insurance if you need to make a claim.
A car insurance policy is really a two-way street; the insurer is agreeing to cover you for damage to your car and other people’s property, but you’re agreeing to make sure you and your vehicle consistently meet a certain set of standards. Most of the ways you can potentially void your car insurance are due to you or your vehicle not being up to scratch, although there are a few that are less to do with maintenance and more to do with behaviour.
1. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (duh!)
There really isn’t too much we need to say here. There isn’t a single car insurance policy in the world that will cover you if you’re drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.
For L- and P-platers, you’ll need a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0%, but for drivers on their full license it’s still a risky move to have a drink before driving, considering they need to come in below 0.05%.
Also keep in mind that this applies to prescription drugs as well. Just because they’re legal doesn’t mean you’re okay to drive while taking them if they have a significant influence on your reflexes or thought processes.
2. Vehicle modifications the insurer doesn’t know about
This one will vary by insurer and by circumstance, but you’re better off not doing anything too crazy to your vehicle without getting your insurer’s approval first.
There’s a reason you’re asked about vehicle modifications during the policy application process, and as soon as you make unauthorised changes to your car it stops being the vehicle that your insurer agreed to cover.
Even something as seemingly innocuous as a paint-job can cause issues down the track, so just be sure to check with your insurer before you do anything.
3. Worn tyres
This is one that less people are vigilant about, but it’s absolutely crucial to keep in mind. There are legally mandated tyre safety standards which dictate how worn your tyres are allowed to get before you have to replace them (the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.5mm).
Not only can overly worn tyres be dangerous to drive on, but if you’re involved in a crash while driving on tyres that don’t meet legal standards? That’s a claim that might not go through.
4. Non-roadworthy car
More common sense than anything, you need to make sure your car is always working in a safe condition. This isn’t really something that requires a huge amount of effort outside of making sure that you take your car for it’s regular services and paying attention to any parts that may have worn out prematurely, such as brake pads. You could always try and service your own vehicle, but that comes with as set of pros and cons.
5. Restricted drivers
When you first take out your policy, you’ll be asked whether or not you want to restrict your policy to drivers over 25 years old only in order to make your insurance premiums cheaper. Just remember that this condition means there’s no hope of getting a claim paid if it’s the result of a younger driver being behind your wheel.
Weigh up the odds that you might ever need a friend or family member under 25 years old to drive your vehicle, and make your decision accordingly. Don’t restrict your policy solely for the price benefit, because it may end up costing you a great deal more down the track.
6. Overloaded car or trailer
It’s one of the less obvious exclusions, but most policies specify that they won’t pay out a claim if you were involved in the crash while driving an overloaded car or trailer.
It’s similar to the point about tyres in that it simply stems from your legal obligations as a driver – it’s illegal to drive an overloaded car or trailer, hence why insurers won’t pay claims stemming from doing so. They’re not going to pay your repair costs if the damage is caused by you breaking the law!
7. Overdue premium payment
One of the easiest ways to void your insurance is forgetting to pay your premiums, and it’s a mistake that anyone can make. Forgetting about the bill and leaving it on the fridge for a few days past the payment date can become a rather costly lapse of memory if you’re involved in a crash before you remember to pay it!
If setting up a recurring payment – but if you pay annually, it’s just a matter of acting quickly once you receive your bill.
Use common sense
When it comes down to it, none of the above issues are particularly hard to avoid. As long as you’re a law abiding, common sense citizen who pays their insurance premiums on time, you shouldn’t have too many issues.