13 surprising ways you could be invalidating your car insurance
Driving a car isn’t just about knowing the Highway Code – there are all sorts of rules you need to abide by. The same goes for your insurance but these rules are not always obvious.
That’s why we’re here to keep you informed and save you from getting caught out by some of the surprising ways that you could be invalidating your car cover – without even realising it.
- 1. Putting on make-up or shaving: using your rear-view mirror to help you finish your morning grooming routine can result in a £100 fine or earn you between three and nine penalty points.
- This also extends to changing CDs – even when you’re stationary at traffic lights. So, best to set your morning alarm a few minutes earlier.
- 2. Attaching large objects to your rear-view mirror: say goodbye to those fluffy dice because they could technically be classed as an obstruction.
- 3. Eating or drinking at the wheel: it’s not just alcohol you should avoid but tea, coffee and soft drinks too. Eating at the wheel can also invalidate your policy if you’re involved in a crash, so fill up your tummy as well as the car before you set off or it could cost you a pretty penny.
- Even being caught doing this could earn you up to £100 and nine penalty points, so it’s probably not worth reaching for that packet of Quavers.
- 4. Snowy or dirty windows or a snowy roof: driving with smeared, dirty mirrors, windows or windscreen can land you with a £2,500 fine, three penalty points and a driving ban.
- By law, you must be able to see clearly out of all your windows or it can be classed as driving in dangerous conditions.
- It’s not just your windows you need to keep clean, your roof also needs to be clear of snow and debris – if it’s not, you could end up with a £60 fine and three penalty points.
- 5. Using your smartphone to pay at a drive-thru: we all know using your mobile while driving is wrong, but you shouldn’t use it to pay at a drive-thru either – if you do, you could end up with six penalty points and a £1,000 fine (which is a high price to pay for fast food).
- 6. Using your Apple watch: this goes for any wearable smart device whilst you’re on the move and being caught carries a £200 fine and six penalty points.
- 7. Texting while driving, even while stationary: texting on your mobile even when you’re at a standstill such as at traffic lights, carries three penalty points and a £100 fine.
- 8. Inappropriate footwear: wearing high heels, slippers, or going barefoot isn’t illegal but it could hamper any claims you make if you have an accident as it could be seen as hindering your ability to drive.
- 9. Taking certain prescription drugs before driving: many prescription drugs can make you drowsy and you’re best to avoid them before driving, because the penalties are high.
- You could be given a one-year driving ban, face an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison and end up with a criminal record for drug-driving.
- Common drugs to avoid include: amphetamines, temazepam, morphine (including other opiates such as codeine, tramadol and fentanyl), methadone and diazepam.
- 10. Giving your car insurer inaccurate information: we all make mistakes but failing to tell your insurer about a change in circumstances – like a new job, or address – can invalidate your insurance policy.
- 11. Underestimating your mileage: Vastly underestimating the number of miles you do is also a quick way to void your policy.
- 12. Getting out of the car on a single yellow: as the driver, you can’t step out of the car on a single yellow line – it’s against the law (although you’re allowed to drop passengers off if it’s safe).
- If you get caught doing so, you could be hit with a £130 fine and be classed as ‘illegally parked’ in the event of an accident.
- 13. Supervising a learner while using your phone: teaching someone to drive takes just as much concentration as learning, so using your mobile while supervising a learner could result in you being banned or hit with a £1,000 fine.
- If you only passed your test in the previous two years, then you could even lose your licence.
Keeping you safe and covered
Navigating all the rules of the road can be stressful but our easy to follow, informative and up-to-date guides will help keep you on the right track.
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15 more surprising driving no-nos
- 1. Using an unfixed mobile as a sat-nav: if you’re using your phone as a sat-nav, make sure it’s secured. Scrabbling around to check the map whilst it rolls around the dashboard or passenger seat can earn you six points and a £200 fine.
- If you’ve held your driving licence for less than two years, then you could also face a driving ban.
- 2. Fixing your sat-nav in the wrong place: as carbuyer highlight, there is no specific rule about where to position your satnav or smartphone in the car but if it’s too high on your windscreen it can be classed as an ‘obstruction to vision’, which is a violation of the Highway Code.
- The government website simplifies it by stating that your phone or device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.
- 3. Not telling your insurer about minor dings: you should keep your insurer updated – no matter how small the incident. If your car is found to have previously unreported bumps and dents it could jeopardise a future, bigger claim.
- 4. Not declaring modifications: if you make mods, make sure you tell your insurer. Whilst the modifications themselves won’t necessarily invalidate your policy, failing to tell your insurer, will.
- Modifications include anything that wasn’t originally fitted, such as decals, tinted windows and even roof racks.
- 5. Forgetting to indicate, or leaving indicators on: easily done, but you could be accused of driving without care or consideration to other road users.
- The AA found that out of 40,000 drivers, around one third failed to use their blinkers – if caught it could result in a fine up to £5,000 and up to nine penalty points.
- 6. Mind your music: playing music too loud can have two consequences – it can either be deemed as a distraction, or you could end up accused of ‘anti-social behaviour in connection with use of a vehicle’.
- On the flip-side, wearing headphones is a no-no as well and can be considered a distraction (although not illegal).
- 7. Driving too slowly: driving too slow can be just as dangerous as driving too fast and can carry with it an unlimited fine and up to nine penalty points.
- The Department for Transport estimates that 140 road accidents are caused annually by motorists driving too slowly.
- 8. Smoking while driving: not only bad for your health, but potentially bad for your driving record too. While it is not illegal to smoke at the wheel unless you have an under 18 in the car, if it leads to careless driving, it could land you in trouble with the law.
- 9. Throwing something out of the window: if you’re caught being a litter bug you could be fined £100.
- The government estimates that cleaning UK roads and streets cost £700 million in 2017 – so save it for when you arrive at your destination or buy a car bin (if you do decide to purchase one, remember to make your purchase through mustardjar.co.uk to earn cashback to help you pay for your next insurance policy).
- 10. Sleeping in your car if you’re drunk: sleeping in your car is not illegal, so long as you’re sober, safe, and parked somewhere legally.
- But if you’re drunk, or under the influence of drugs then you can expect to be fined and be issued with a minimum of ten penalty points.
- 11. Tailgating: nobody likes being tailgated and it’s best to keep your distance, or you could be fined £100 and earn three penalty points.
- 12. Road rage: it’s all too easy to lose your temper behind the wheel, but whilst road rage isn’t actually a defined crime, ‘disorderly conduct’ is – and that can include causing alarm or distress.
- Being charged under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 means being fined up to 75% of your weekly earnings (so keep your cool).
- 13. Beeping your horn: the Highway Code has some strict rules about when and where you can honk your horn.
- You shouldn’t use it in anger or with aggression and you shouldn’t beep in a built-up area between 11.30pm and 7am – breach the rules and you could be hit with a maximum £5,000 fine.
- 14. Flashing your lights: most of us have flashed our lights in thanks or to let another car pass, but you’re not actually supposed to, and it could land you in trouble if it’s the cause of confusion that leads to an accident.
- 15. Passengers can’t hold babies: all children must be in the correct car seat using the appropriate belt. The only exceptions are for licensed taxis and private hire cars.
- 16. Splashing pedestrians: splashing pedestrians with rainwater on purpose is deemed to be driving without ‘reasonable care for other persons’ and if you’re caught you could be the one in (hot) water, facing a fine anywhere between £100 and £5,000.
- 17. Not meeting minimum eye test rules: you have to be able to read a post-2001 style number plate from 20m away with or without glasses. Driving with uncorrected poor eyesight could mean three penalty points.