The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

Can car insurance overlap?

If you drive a car on public roads, you must have car insurance by law, but what happens if you double up on cover? We look at how it can affect a claim and why it doesn’t mean you get twice the protection.

Can my car insurance overlap?

Overlapping car insurance policies happens more often than you might think for a number of reasons, for instance:

  • Autorenewal – if you buy a new policy but your previous one was automatically renewed, you may end up with two active policies.
  • Wrong renewal date – if you make a mistake on the renewal date, you could end up buying a policy even though your old one is still active.
  • You don’t realise you have cover – you may already have some types of insurance without even realising it. A good example is car breakdown cover, which is often included as part of a paid bank account package.

Can I get a refund on my car insurance if I double up?

You might be able to get a refund on one policy depending on the circumstances.

If you’ve accidently doubled up because your old policy has been automatically renewed, you’ll have at least 14 days to cancel it (some cooling off periods are longer). In this scenario, cancellation is fairly straightforward, and you should be refunded your money, less any admin fees. You’ll usually be expected to pay for any days the policy was active for, as well.

If you realise you’ve doubled up after the cooling off period has ended, speak to your insurer as soon as you can. You should still be able to cancel your car insurance, but you may have to pay a cancellation fee. Depending on the insurer, this can be in excess of £100. There may also be other admin costs.

If you haven’t made a claim on the policy, most insurers will offer you a refund. You’re unlikely to get any money back if you’ve either made a claim or you only have a few months left on the policy. It’s also unlikely you’ll get a refund if you’ve paid for your car insurance in instalments.

Is it illegal to have overlapping car insurance?

No, it’s not illegal to have overlapping car insurance. However, it is illegal to claim the full amount of compensation from both insurers; this would be considered insurance fraud. In other words, two policies does not mean twice the protection and it doesn’t mean you get twice the payout.

Does it matter if my car insurance policies overlap?

Although it’s not illegal to have two overlapping policies, it still matters for a few reasons:

  • It’ll cost you more – car insurance is expensive, paying for two policies could leave an even bigger hole in your finances.
  • Claims can be complicated – having two policies usually means both insurers will need to discuss how the claim will be managed which can extend the claims process.
  • Can affect your no claims bonus – if you make a claim, the risk is that you lose your no claims bonus from both insurers.

If my car insurance overlaps, how do I make a claim?

If your policies overlap, the claims process can become complicated. Depending on the terms of each of your policies, you may be able to choose which insurer handles your claim.

Typically, though, both insurers will need to work together to decide how your claim is processed and managed. It will usually come down to certain terms and conditions in your policy (known as contribution clauses) which are designed to deal with this sort of situation.

In most cases, compensation costs will be split between the insurers (one insurer may cover all the payout but they’ll typically recoup the cost from the other firm).

If the insurers don’t agree on how much your car is worth and can’t agree on the payout, the claims process is likely to take a lot longer and be far trickier to resolve. In the meantime, it could mean you’re without a car.

What’s more, if both insurers contribute to your pay out, it’s often viewed as two claims not one. This can mean an even bigger increase in premiums when you come to renew.

Also, remember that making a claim can also affect your no claims bonus, in this instance, it could mean you end up losing the discount from both insurers.

Can different people insure the same car?

Yes, different people can insure the same car without doubling up on cover. For example, if a learner driver is using a parent’s car, they may have their own learner driver car insurance while the parent has their own annual policy.

Under these circumstances, it’s not considered doubling up because the policies serve slightly different purposes. One is a standard policy for the main driver and the other is a learner policy.

Having two policies also means that if the learner has an accident and makes a claim, the parent’s insurance is unaffected, and their no claims bonus will be intact.

Tips to prevent overlapping insurance

More often than not, overlapping car insurance is simply accidental, but here are some tips to minimise the risk of duplicating cover:

  • Check if your policy is auto renewed – some policies do and some don’t, so double check the small print to be sure you don’t get caught out.
  • Note the policy end date – it’s easy to forget when car insurance is due, but adding a reminder in your calendar can help you keep track.
  • Choose the right start date – your new policy should pick up where your old one ends, for example, if your current policy ends at 23:59 on the 20th, your new plan should start at 00:00 on the 21st.
  • See if you already have cover – if you pay for some financial products (such as your bank account or credit card) breakdown cover is often included as part of the package. If so, you won’t need to add this feature to your car insurance, as it just means you’re paying for the service twice.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that overlapping insurance isn’t unique to car cover and you can accidently overlap any type of insurance.

Compare car insurance

If your car insurance is up for renewal (and you know it won’t be auto renewed), you can compare policies right now. If you’d prefer to find out more about how to save money on car cover or for tips on finding policies to suit you, take a look at some of our in-depth guides:

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

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