How to renew insurance properly during coronavirus outbreak


Customers buying a new insurance policy, or renewing an old one, are advised to purchase cover based around their normal behaviour and not on current lives under coronavirus restrictions.

Those that don’t, and fill in forms for the current situation, as opposed to their ‘normal life’, could find themselves facing large fees later in the year to amend policies. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, people have been ordered to stay at home by the Government in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus.

This means more people are at home all day and night, while car usage is likely to have plummeted as far fewer journeys are made, especially to work. 

Customers are being urged to purchase car and home insurance based on their normal life

The present restrictions which temporarily close certain businesses have led to concerns about access to breakdown services, MOT tests and cover for working from home. 

However, those buying insurance should take into account that these are special, temporary measures and when filling out their forms, do so as they would normally.

Lee Griffin, chief executive of Go Compare, said: ‘The stricter social isolating measures announced by the Government to tackle the spread of the virus greatly restrict people’s work and activities and have implications for their insurance policies.’

He adds: ‘The continuously changing situation has left many people confused and worried about how or whether they can use their cars and how working from home will impact on their home insurance.’ 

‘In a nutshell, insurers have automatically extended the cover of customers who are working from home because of self-isolation or Government advice, if their work is clerical.

‘Likewise, policies of employees who are required to drive to work will not be affected, nor will the insurance of people using their own car to deliver medicines or groceries to support others.

‘If you’re about to renew cover or buy a policy for the first time it is important to arrange cover suitable for your normal life – rather than the current restrictions. Otherwise, you will probably have to pay an increased premium and amendment fee for altering your insurance when life gets back to normal.’

This is Money, with the help of Go Compare, reveal which insurance services you should be able to access during the pandemic – and what changes you might have to make to your policy. 

Cover: Legally, if your car is on the road, even if it's just parked-up, it must still be insured

Cover: Legally, if your car is on the road, even if it’s just parked-up, it must still be insured

Driving and car insurance

Driving should be limited to essential journeys as outlined by the Government. 

Legally, if your car is on the road, even if it’s just parked, it must be insured unless you have a Statutory Off Road Notification. Therefore, car insurance is a bill you should continue to prioritise.

Drivers buying a new policy over the coming weeks should arrange cover based on their usual driving. 

If you would normally drive to work or use your car for business, then you need this to be covered – otherwise, you could be hit with a fee for adding cover later. 

Nearly nine in 10 policies contain an alteration fee which, on average, works out at £28 but could be as much as £62.

Similarly, drivers tempted to save money by reducing their existing cover to reflect their reduced driving need to be aware of the charges and they could take a double hit if they remove and then subsequently re-add cover at a later date.

Auto-renewal

Customers with policies coming-up for renewal shouldn’t let their policy renew without first checking to see if they can get better deal. 

Comparison websites are likely to be the best way to do this and shopping around could save you hundreds of pounds a year on your bill. 

Even if you don’t end up switching, you can use your new quote to haggle with your existing insurer.  

Typically, it’s more cost-effective to pay for your insurance in one payment rather than a monthly direct debit. 

People who can’t make a single annual payment should consider using a 0 per cent credit card.

Drivers with breakdown cover should still be able to access roadside assistance from providers

Drivers with breakdown cover should still be able to access roadside assistance from providers

MOTs

The Government has now confirmed that private vehicle owners will be granted a six month exemption from MOT testing.

All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March 2020. 

Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.

Drivers will still need to get their vehicle tested until the new regulations come into place. 

If you cannot get an MOT that’s due because you’re in self-isolation, the Department for Transport is working with insurers and the police to ensure people are not unfairly penalised for things out of their control.

Normally, the penalty for not having an MOT is up to a £1,000 fine. The only exceptions are to drive it to or from somewhere to be repaired or to a pre-arranged MOT test. 

If your MOT is due now and you are self-isolating or in quarantine you can get someone else to take it to be tested – but they must be insured to drive your car.

Break: Private vehicle owners have been granted a six month exemption from MOT testing

Break: Private vehicle owners have been granted a six month exemption from MOT testing

Breakdown cover

Drivers with breakdown cover should still be able to access roadside assistance from their provider. 

Recovery companies are still currently operating but motorists should check their provider’s website for any updated procedures or advice.

Cancelling insurance and SORN 

Drivers wanting to keep a car off the public road and stop paying and tax and insurance need to make a SORN or face an £80 fine for having an uninsured car. 

Be aware, most insurers will charge a policy cancellation fee. Depending on the policy, fees range from £11 to £225, the average fee is £58.

Home insurance

Clerical work from home, due to Government restrictions or self-isolation should now automatically be covered by standard home insurance policies. 

However, if you receive business visitors while working from home, you should check with your insurer to see if any restrictions apply.

Your home insurance is unlikely to cover any business equipment, such as a laptop. Typically, employers are liable for ensuring their equipment is insured away from the office.

Most standard home insurance policies do not provide cover for the costs of cleaning a property – even if it is contaminated by Covid-19.

Home insurance customers who, as a result of being quarantined or unable to travel home from abroad, have left their property unoccupied for longer than the timescale set out in their policy need to contact their insurer for advice.

 

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