The five surprising things your car insurance might cover - and three it probably won’t

Two children sitting in the back of a car

From stolen sat navs to the wrong fuel in your tank, here are a few unexpected things your motor insurance might help with, and some it probably won’t.

By Sarah Lewis 

Drivers will almost certainly be familiar with the usual items car insurance covers – such as the cost of repairing or replacing parts after an accident or medical bills. But that’s not all. Here’s what else you might – and might not be – covered for.  

The five surprising things your car insurance might cover 

1. Gadgets

You might assume your insurance will cover any factory-installed tech that came with your car, such as rear-view cameras and touchscreens, and you’d be right. But what about removable possessions such as Sat Navs, portable DVD players, and dash cams, or retrofitted tech such as a new stereo?

The good news is all these items are usually protected under your car insurer’s personal possessions and fitted accessories cover, but only up to a certain value – so check this.

If you regularly carry expensive belongings in your car, consider adding them to your household insurance policy as items taken outside of the home.

Regardless of how well you’re insured, avoid leaving valuables in plain sight. Take them with you or hide them in the glove box so as not to tempt thieves.

2. Car seats

Parents will be well aware that child car seats can be expensive, but do you know that once they’ve been in an accident – even if they appear undamaged – they shouldn’t be used again?

Don’t despair, almost all insurers will pay for replacement car seats as part of a claim for loss or damage on your vehicle, and many offer unlimited cover for them. It’s, however, worth hanging on to the receipt if your car seat was particularly expensive, just in case.

3. If you’re the victim of a scam

If you're tricked or scammed into giving your car away, some insurers will cover you but some will exclude what is known as 'theft by deception'.

There are a number of scams aimed at people who are selling a car privately, commonly by driving away with the car while on a test drive or paying with counterfeit money or a fake cheque. If you’re unlucky enough to fall for a scam, you’ll probably be covered but do check your individual policy.

If you’re selling a vehicle, be cautious. Consider exchanging it using a reputable dealer or ask for payment via direct bank transfer or in cash.

4. Using the wrong fuel

This can be a very costly mistake, and easily done if you’re not paying attention.

Many insurers won’t cover you for this error of judgement – but some do and will save you a lot of money if you, or a named driver, accidentally put petrol in your diesel car. If you’ve made this mistake but haven’t started driving yet, it may be worth looking into using your breakdown cover or having your tank drained by a mobile company. That’s because the cost of this may be less than your excess.

Find out what to do if you use the wrong fuel.

5. Injuries to pets

Fully comprehensive cover will help with medical bills if you, a passenger or a third party is injured in a crash, but did you know that your pet’s treatment could also be included on some specialist policies?

These policies could enable you to claim for vet bills if your animal is injured in a car accident, either in or outside of the car.

However, most policies won't cover this, so it’s worth checking if you carry pet passengers regularly.

The three things your car insurance is unlikely to cover

1. If the named driver is the main driver

It can be tempting to add a younger or new driver to your insurance as a named driver (as opposed to the main user) to save money, but this might prove a costly mistake.

Insurers take a dim view of any customers who lie to them. If something happens and it turns out that a named driver is actually the main driver,  your insurer may add on a premium – or your claim could be rejected and you could even be investigated for fraud.

There are other ways to save on insurance if you are newly qualified or seen by insurers as ‘high risk’. Some insurers, for example, will fit a black (telematics) box in the car or use a telematics smartphone app, which reward safe drivers with a discount on their motor insurance policy.

2. Undeclared modifications

Most car insurance policies won’t cover the cost of repairing or replacing non-standard modified car parts if they’ve not been told in advance.

Car modifications include adding a turbo or supercharger to your engine, modifying your car wheels, removing or replacing seats, or tinting windows and changing the steering wheel.

If you’ve ‘improved’ your car, don’t panic. Most adaptations will be covered as long as you declare them when taking out the policy. 

3. Personalised number plates

Adding that personal touch on your plate can make your car feel extra special. But you should bear in mind that the cost of it almost certainly won't be covered by your car insurance. 

When you register a personalised number plate to your vehicle, always tell your insurer.

Choose your insurer carefully

The cover provided by motor insurance policies varies widely, so it’s important to do your own research and choose an insurer that offers a good package of cover and has a reputation for paying out claims.

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