Ways you could void your car insurance without knowing it
8 ways you could unintentionally void your car insurance cover.
Car insurance is a must-have for anyone on the road. However, even if you took out car insurance with the best intentions, there are ways of voiding car insurance. These range from the obvious like getting into an accident while under the influence, to more subtle such as modifying your vehicle. With this in mind, here are eight ways you might void your car insurance policy.
If you're a car enthusiast, modifying your car is probably one of your favourite things to do. You might have a long list of upgrades that you want to make, whether that be lowering your car, adding large aftermarket rims or just applying some window tints.
You must notify your insurer if you plan on making any changes to the car's specification, or if you want to have any non-standard accessories fitted. In their eyes, this could affect the likelihood of your car being stolen or becoming involved in an accident. For this reason, keep your insurer up-to-date on the mods you undertake.
Car insurer on mods
A Suncorp Insurance spokesperson told us, "Modifying a car also potentially changes the value, roadworthiness, safety and performance, and most policies will require a customer to tell the insurer when this occurs. Failing to do so could result in an unfavourable experience when a claim is made."
Giving incorrect information
When applying for a policy, car insurers will ask you a number of questions, for example, where your vehicle is parked overnight. Telling your insurer that you park your car in a locked garage or compound, when in reality you leave it on the street, could you land you in trouble. If the car is stolen and it's discovered that your car wasn't left where you said it would be (e.g. you don't even have a garage), the insurer can cite one of their insurance exclusions and void the policy.
Car insurer on fraud
Suncorp Insurance said, "When an insurer asks questions at the time a customer is buying insurance or making a claim, it is very important the customer provides accurate and honest answers."
"Failing to do this could put the policy and claim at risk of being cancelled or denied. Some common questions insurers ask are driving and insurance history-related, which can be checked when a claim is made. If it is found that what was told to the insurer is not true, then the insurer may have the right to cancel the policy, and deny or reduce the claim, leaving the customer out of pocket."
Illegal/dangerous driving (hooning)
Hooning isn't just anti-social and incredibly dangerous, it will also void your car insurance cover. Hooning is defined as performing burnouts or donuts, driving at excessive speed and drag racing. It may also be referred to as illegal, dangerous or reckless driving. Look through the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy and you'll find an exclusion that says something to the effect of:
"We do not cover your car when at the time of the incident, the driver of your car (or passenger) was being wilfully reckless (hooning)."
The same goes for taking part in rallies, races, time trials and track days. If you like to legally drive your vehicle fast on race tracks, you might want to take out a motorsports car insurance policy.
Drink driving is behind almost one-third of accidents that involve fatalities. The Transport Accident Commission says that 41% of drivers killed on the road tested positive for drugs or alcohol in their system. So, if you're foolhardy enough to get behind the wheel while over the blood alcohol limit or while under the influence illicit substances, your car insurance is nullified. It may also be cancelled if you refuse to take a test within the legal time frame for doing so.
Be careful if you're taking prescription medication too, as some of these can cause side effects like dizziness, aggression, drowsiness and light-headedness, again impairing your judgement and responses. Check with your doctor and fully read all labels/safety literature to see if you're fit to drive.
Incorrectly secured loads
If you tow a trailer or carry around loads, you must make sure that you correctly restrain them. If it is discovered that you have failed to do so, this can void your insurance. You'll find this exclusion written along the lines of:
"We do not cover your car being used to tow or convey a load, which is not secured according to law."
Using the wrong fuel
It's easily done. You're filling your car at the servo, and as you pump the fuel, you're thinking about how you're late or how you can't forget to grab that thing from the shops. Then, you look down and realise that you've topped up with the wrong fuel.
This can be a costly exercise and it won't be covered by your insurance. You'll need to pay for your vehicle to be recovered and to have the tank drained and the fuel pipes flushed through. Under no circumstances should you start up the engine.
Failing to properly maintain your vehicle could also invalidate or impact on your insurance cover. If your vehicle is rusty, is in a poor state of repair, has worn tyres or is overloaded, then your insurance cover can be withdrawn.
Storm and natural disaster damage
Did you know that for many insurance policies, you are not covered for storm damage from named cyclones, floods, bush fires and other natural disasters for the first 48-72 hours after the commencement of your policy? Check your PDS for more info.
What else am I responsible for?
Our Suncorp insurance expert also underlined the important responsibilities of a car insurance customer.
"There are also responsibilities the policyholder must meet. For example, customers are responsible for taking all reasonable precautions to prevent damage to, or theft of, their car. They must look to move their car away from rising waters, keep it in a roadworthy condition, and make sure they accompany anyone test driving it when it's up for sale."
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