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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve got to do a fair few miles driving a friend’s car over the weekend and their insurance company won’t allow them to add named drivers to their policy. So I contacted my insurance company (direct line) to ask if I could add their car to my policy temporarily, however they won’t let me do this as the car in question is already insured elsewhere. Which is fair enough.

So I queried with them whether my policy still gave me third party cover on other cars (I know a number of insurance companies are stopping this and I hadn’t checked my certificate since I last renewed) and they tell me it does, but only in an emergency, which I’d never heard before and came as a bit of a surprise as I’ve driven other peoples cars on and off over the years assuming I was covered.

I checked my insurance certificate which includes “The policy holder may also driver with the owners consent a motor car not owned by the policy holder” etc.etc with absolutely no mention of this being in an emergency only. I queried this with the lady I was speaking to who again told me that cover was only in emergencies regardless of what the certificate says.

I went away and looked through my policy documents and can’t find any mention of the cover being in an emergency only, so, thinking I might have an out of date policy document, I called Direct Line back and spoke to someone else, who again confirms the “Emergency Only” thing but tells me that this isn’t actually mentioned anywhere in writing (i.e. the insurance certificate, schedule or policy document) but that it’s what they’re told to tell people that ask about it.

Does anyone know what the actual situation is with this? I’m of the opinion that if this isn’t included anywhere in writing then, regardless of what they’re telling me over the phone, I’m still covered third party only on other cars whether it’s an emergency or not.
 
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I used to be an insurance underwriter for an insurance company (tedious job I know) but basically the third party cover driving someone elses car is there to be used as a very temporary measure.
There are certain conditions to it though
1. the other vehicle must be insured (this is to stop young drivers insuring a 1.0 litre AX and driving a Scooby to avoid paying thousands in insurance)
2. the other vehicle must be used by express consent (i.e. you cant nick a car, crash it and claim your insured)

The whole driving other cars using third party only cover was originally suggested to be there in case of emergencies (i.e. taking people to hospital, or if the main driver fell ill on a journey etc) and should only really be used as such.

The cynics may suggest that it is a way of insurance companies squeezing more premium by having to add additional drivers. Most companies now will charge approx £20 - £30 to add a driver (the premium will be more if the additional driver is younger than the main driver) and most, Direct Line included, will add the driver for the remainder of the policy rather than adding the driver for a week.

Now, bearing in mind that you have contacted the insurance company on a few occasions to clarify the situation and at least twice you have been advised that it should be used for 'emergencies' only, you would be best adhering to their advice. Mainly because if anything were to happen, you will have been recorded during the telephone conversation and they can use those recordings when deciding to pay a claim.

However should something happen (and I am not suggesting anyone commit insurance fraud!!!), the insurance company would only prevent pay out in the event that at the time of the accident, it was not an emergency and proving that could be tricky (especially as the main driver fell very ill, very quickly ahem)

I am also astounded that your mates insurance company does not allow additional drivers, unless the vehicle is in a particular group eg a high powered sports car, that they impose restrictions on say the minumum age of additional drivers is 30.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply efcsted.

From what you say it sound like this is quite common with most insurers. Makes me wonder how many people are driving round in other cars assuming they're covered when in fact they might not be (as I would have done if I hadn't asked the question and just based my decision to drive it on what my policy actually says)

I still don't really understand how they claim this is the case when there's no mention of it in any of the documentation. It really bugs me that every time I call Direct Line I have to listen to a message telling me that if I fail to disclose any information it will invalidate my insurance when it seems that they've failed to disclose quite an important fact about this part of my insurance.
 
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