Not all insurance providers offer driving other cars (DOC) cover, and even if your insurer offers it to some policyholders, you might not be covered. So, how do you find out if you're covered to drive other cars? We explain below.
When can you drive someone else's car on your insurance?
Before driving someone else's car on your insurance, you MUST first confirm that you're legally covered (i.e., insured) to do so because driving without insurance is illegal.
You can drive someone else's vehicle if your certificate of motor insurance allows you to do so, and provided the other circumstances meet the terms of your cover for driving other cars. The exact rules will vary from insurance company to insurance company, but here are some common rules and restrictions to give you a rough idea of what to be aware of:
About you, your car and your insurance
- Your certificate of motor insurance must allow you to drive other cars
- You're the main policyholder (not a named driver)
- You're at leave 25 years old
- Your own car must be in working order (i.e., not damaged beyond economic repair, not stolen)
- Your vehicle has valid road tax and MOT certificate
About the situation and other person's car you're driving
- You're driving in covered geographic limits
- It must be an emergency situation
- You have the owner's permission to drive
- The other car must be currently insured with a valid policy
- The other car is not a hire, rental or courtesy car
While DOC cover is more common on comprehensive car insurance, it's certainly not guaranteed (even on comprehensive policies) and is rarely found on other types of car insurance (TPFT and TPO).
Am I insured to drive other cars (DOC)?
Your certificate of motor insurance should explain whether or not you're covered to drive other vehicles, and list the restrictions of cover. Look at section 5 of your certificate of insurance, which is called 'Persons or classes of persons entitled to drive' and also section 6 (which might list further limitations). You'll see language such as this:
"The policyholder only may also drive a car not owned by them or hired to them under a hire purchase agreement and which is not used in connection with the motor trade."
If your certificate doesn't specifically allow driving other cars, you aren't insured to do so. Here's how to find out if you can drive other cars on your insurance:
- Check your certificate of motor insurance: Your certificate of motor insurance will say if you are covered to drive other cars. If your certificate of motor insurance doesn't list cover for driving other cars, you're not insured to do so! There may be additional criteria listed in your policy wording, so check that next. If you don't have this to hand, your insurance provider might have emailed it to you or provide access to a copy in your policy documents in their online customer portal.
- Check your policy wording: There might be additional information on restrictions related to driving other cars such as 'in emergency situations only' written into your policy booklet. (But don't rely solely on the policy wording because you personally could have an exemption and NOT be covered, even if your type of policy may generally allow driving other cars—you have to check your certificate of insurance, too!)
- Call up your insurance company to ask: If you are at all uncertain or want to confirm you're covered, contact your insurer to confirm you're covered given the situation at hand.
Here is an example of a certificate of motor insurance with the language regarding driving other cars highlighted in blue. As you can see, the drivers covered by this policy are covered to drive other vehicles subject to having the owner's permission and other conditions. In addition, the driver should check their policy wording also to learn more about the cover for driving other cars.
If you want to read more about coverage for driving other cars in your policy booklet or policy wording (which is always a good idea), you'll need to search for the relevant section in a document that can be dozens of pages long. To find the right part of the document, try looking for search terms such as 'driving a car that does not belong to you', 'driving other cars' (DOC), 'driving other vehicles', 'car not belonging to you' or other similar phrases.
When can't you drive other cars on your insurance?
You can't drive other cars if your certificate of motor insurance doesn't allow it (check section 5).
Should you drive other cars, even if you're covered?
Generally speaking, the 'driving other cars' coverage on vehicle insurance is meant to cover emergency situations. For example if your friend has driven you somewhere, and they have subsequently been injured and need you to drive them to hospital. But unfortunately you won't find a good definition of 'emergency' in any documents, so if you're unsure then call your insurer to ask if your situation would be covered.
Also remember that DOC cover is typically third party cover only, which doesn't provide any protection for you or the vehicle you're driving. Because of this, it's better to avoid using the DOC extension of cover if you can help it.
Are there limitations to insurance coverage when driving someone else's car?
Yes. Cover for driving other cars is typically limited to 3rd party cover only (TPO)—TPO is the minimum amount required by law to drive legally. So even if you have comprehensive insurance for your own vehicle, you would not have this level of protection when driving someone else's car. This means that if you have an accident, you're only covered for damage to other vehicle(s), property and people—you wouldn't be covered for any damage to the car you're driving or to you.
There are a few exceptions, such as Aviva's 'AvivaPlus Premium tier' policy which covers policyholders to drive other vehicles comprehensively, if you've activated the cover when you need it in the MyAviva customer portal.
What if your insurance doesn't cover you to drive other vehicles?
If your insurance doesn't cover you to drive other vehicles, don't drive someone else's car! If you do, you'd be driving uninsured, which is illegal and can lead to points and penalties or worse. Anyone caught driving a vehicle you're not insured to drive could get:
- a fixed penalty of £300 and
- 6 penalty points
And if the case goes to court, you could get:
- an unlimited fine
- disqualified from driving and/or
- the vehicle seized and even destroyed
Which insurance providers allow driving other people's vehicles?
We've read the policy documents for comprehensive cover from a number of UK insurance companies to find out which ones broadly allow driving other vehicles. We've found that most of the big insurers (e.g., Admiral, Direct Line car insurance, Aviva's general car insurance business, LV=, Hastings Direct, esure, More Th>n, etc.) will typically allow it if you hold comprehensive cover, you're at least 25 years of age and you're the policyholder (not a named driver). There will be conditions specific to your insurer/situation as well, such as having the owner's permission or it being an emergency situation. Be sure you understand the full criteria before you step behind the wheel of another car.
Note: while an insurer might allow driving other cars for some policyholders, they might not allow YOU to do so for one reason or another—for instance depending on your age, occupation, vehicle or other risk factors. Always check your certificate of motor insurance and/or call your provider to confirm that you're covered. DO NOT rely solely on a provider's policy wording or the list below.
Here are some links to FAQs and other web pages that have information for various insurers that you might find helpful.