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Test drive insurance is probably not the first thing you think of when you are buying a car but it is vitally important, and every year in Britain hundreds of people are prosecuted for driving without insurance whilst either testing a vehicle or driving it home, and the majority of these people probably believed that they were, in fact, covered beforehand. Here are some of the assumptions they made:

The car is covered by the main dealers insurance

This may, and then again may not, be correct. A number of large car dealers do have insurance cover for customers who wish to test cars whilst they are carrying trade plates, but many do not. Claiming that you honestly believed that you were covered in this way is no defence against a prosecution since driving without insurance is an absolute offence; i.e. you either were insured, or you were not. Even where there is in fact such cover in place it ceases to have any effect once you have actually purchased the car, which means that you need to have additional cover to at least drive it home.

My own insurance covers me for any vehicle not belonging to me

Firstly it is worth checking that this cover actually exists on your policy, since a large number of insurers have been phasing it out recently. Even so, when it exists it will only cover you for third-party risks only; if you were to cause any damage to a possibly very expensive vehicle the onus would be upon you to have it repaired. In addition, should you buy the vehicle this insurance would, again, no longer be in effect since it would no longer come under the 'not belonging' category.

It's okay as long as the owner of the car is in there with me

Incorrect. If you are driving a car the law says that you must have insurance cover to do so. Whether or not a passenger is insured to drive that vehicle is immaterial.

The answer to the problem

Before you drive the car, find out it's registration details, and buy a single day's short term car insurance to cover that vehicle. You can get third-party or fully comprehensive cover if you wish, the transaction only takes a couple of minutes and all you need is a computer or other means of accessing the Internet. Once you have bought the policy you can have immediate cover if you wish, so you could inspect a number of cars and decide which one you wanted to test drive. If you wanted to test more than one, you could add several more vehicles to the same policy.

Police forces are getting more and more keen on catching uninsured drivers and some of their favourite hunting areas are near to car dealers and car auctions. Penalties for driving without insurance are extremely stiff and could not only lead to you losing your driving licence completely but could make it very difficult to find affordable insurance in the future. Buying testdrive insurance for just a single day could take away this risk for you.

Quotations are supplied by Sky Insurance Services Group Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the FCA, number 469048 Quotes are provided by Sky Insurance Services Group Limited with whom we have a trading agreement only and who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority no. 469048. We receive from them a commission of £16 per policy purchased; this will not affect the premium you pay for your policy in any way.