Am I insured to drive a courtesy car?

Am I insured to drive a courtesy car?

A courtesy car can be something of a lifesaver if you are suddenly unable to use your own vehicle. You'll still be able to go to work, to travel, and to enjoy all the convenience that makes owning a car so great — in other words, the hassle of the whole experience is minimised.

But what about insurance? Are you insured to drive a courtesy car? While we can't give you a definitive answer for your particular case — individual insurance providers will have their own specific rules on this — we can give you some information that should make the situation a little clearer.

What is a courtesy car?

If your car needs to be repaired, you may be offered a replacement to keep you on the road while you wait. This is your courtesy car. The courtesy car may be provided by the garage that is carrying out the repairs in some cases. Alternatively, if you've had an accident that wasn't your fault, driver's insurance company may offer the courtesy car. Generally, the car won't be a direct swap for your usual vehicle, and you may find that it is smaller and less powerful, but at least your daily life and work won't be disrupted too much.

Of course, a courtesy car is still a car, and all cars — and all drivers — on UK roads need to be insured. This begs the question: does your insurance cover a courtesy car?

Courtesy cars and insurance coverage: A few scenarios

Understanding whether or not you are insured on a courtesy car can be a little confusing. There are so many different scenarios in which a courtesy car might be required — and so many different types of insurance policies — that it can be difficult to know where you stand. Take a look at a few common situations to learn more.

You have comprehensive cover

Often, comprehensive cover will extend to a courtesy car if you need to use one. However, never assume that this is the case. If your insurance does cover a courtesy car, this will be mentioned explicitly in the terms and conditions of the policy, and you'll need to check that this is indeed provided as part of your coverage.

If this cover is included in your policy, you do not need to get additional insurance to cover your courtesy car.

You have minimal third-party, fire and theft cover

If your insurance is not comprehensive, it is unlikely to cover a courtesy car in addition to your own. In that case, you may find that you need to take out additional insurance in order to protect the courtesy car while you are using it.

Again, you'll need to check this. It is possible that your car insurance does cover a courtesy car, and this will be outlined in your policy document.

You are a named driver on someone else's comprehensive policy

It's possible that a comprehensive policy will provide coverage for all named drivers — not just the owner of the car being repaired. If this is the case for you — i.e., you are a named driver on someone's fully comp policy — then you should be able to drive the courtesy vehicle with the same cover.

However, bear in mind that this is an if. Not all comprehensive policies will cover named drivers for any vehicle other than the one included on the insurance, so you will have to double-check the terms of the specific policy.

Your car is off the road for longer than expected

In some cases, you will be insured on your courtesy car for as long as is necessary. So, if it takes two weeks to fix your car, you'll be insured for this entire period, plus the time it takes to return the courtesy car to the provider.

In other cases, however, there may be a time limit attached to the coverage. This won't usually be a blanket time limit, as some types of repairs may take longer than others. Instead, the policy may provide coverage for the duration of the predicted repair time — if there are delays and the repair work overshoots the deadline, this may exceed the coverage. You may need to apply to extend the cover in this instance.

You want to make a claim on your courtesy car insurance

Usually, your courtesy car insurance will just be there as a precaution — a last resort, just in case anything bad happens while you're using it. Unfortunately, these bad things can happen from time to time, and you may need to make a claim.

In the unlikely event that you do need to make a claim, you'll need to bear in mind that your courtesy car coverage may not be at the same level as your regular coverage. For example, some comprehensive car insurance policies will cover your courtesy car while you're using it, but they may only provide the minimum of third-party, fire and theft coverage. It will also depend on the insurance cover included by the courtesy car company itself.

Always check to make sure exactly what you will be covered for when you use your courtesy car. You may be happy just to have minimal coverage while you use this temporary vehicle, but it's always best to know exactly what you are dealing with just in case you need to make a claim. If you want to extend your policy to match your original insurance policy, some insurance providers may allow you to do this — although this may carry an additional cost, and you'll need to speak to your insurance provider to see if this is possible.

A few final tips...

  • Different insurance policies can meet the different requirements of customers.
  • Comprehensive insurance policies can cover include a courtesy car while your own vehicle is undergoing repairs.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.