Norwich Union is withdrawing the "Driving Other Cars" (DOC) provision from its car insurance policies as it believes it is being abused.
One in seven cars are insured by Norwich Union
The decision will apply to all new and renewed policies from Norwich Union Direct from early next year.
The clause, under drivers' own comprehensive policies, gives them third-party cover on any vehicle they drive, providing they have the owner's permission. Most policies include it.
But there is concern that removing DOC cover could lead to an increase in uninsured drivers.
We asked for your comments. This debate is now closed
Whether what Norwich is doing makes sense only time will tell. One would assume that their data indicates that an abuse is taking place.
One thing that is clear to me is the huge and increasing number of people driving around without insurance due to either not bothering to insure or driving a vehicle that is something other (by modification or otherwise) than that described on the insurance documents.
This may be a better area to concentrate on rather than chipping away at those driving legitimately who - as always - provide a more manageable target.
Frank Sobey, Paignton
So Norwich Union is going to stop me from driving my wife's car which is separately insured despite being 1300cc as opposed to my 2-litre car? Goodbye Norwich Union you've just lost another client!
Keith Kirby, Truro, Cornwall
I hope market forces will come into play.
If NU are right and no-one wants to pay for Third Party insurance, then they'll win loads of custom.
If not, they'll lose all their policy holders and the board will have no company to lord it over.
Let the market decide.
Why not do as France does and insure the driver, not the car. Furthermore, display an insurance certificate and MOT on the car's windscreen.
My husband and I each have a car insured as owner-driver only. The reason for this is that it would cost more for self-and-spouse. We normally only drive each other's cars once or twice a year when our own car is unavailable.
This is just a way to make people pay more for their cover and people should vote with their feet and boycott companies who do this.
What if someone needs to get to hospital with a suspected stroke or heart attack or is in labour? Is it safer for them to drive themselves, or someone to risk driving without insurance?
The conditions and cost of my car insurance have become much less favourable since NU took over Commercial Union.
My protected no-claims has gone and my excess has increased considerably.
A recent, simple claim took well over a month for reimbursement, including difficulty in contacting relevant NU people and being told to send invoices to the wrong address!
I will be looking elsewhere if they insist on this new idea.
I am insured with Norwich Union and have a monthly round trip to Wales. I am a far better and safer driver when I can share the driving with someone else. That alone is saving NU money, but surely the safety is the issue not the savings?
I believe the way forward is to still permit a policyholder to be allowed to drive another vehicle in the case of a genuine emergency.
There are two sides to this, and I can understand the police when they say that the DOC clause hinders their efforts to catch uninsured drivers.
Paul Phillips, Birmingham
I think this is a good idea. Even when you need to drive another car due to a breakdown, all it takes is a quick phone call to the insurance company, and they can ensure you to drive that other car, even if it is for a short period like 24 hours. Alternatively, taxis are available.
Javier Freire-Banos, Bristol
My adult children asked me to drive their car which they left at my home uninsured whilst travelling abroad.
To keep it turned over I drove their car once a week. Being able to do this was useful.
Alan Blue, Salisbury
This whole thing is ridiculous. It is essential that DOC cover is retained if only for emergency reasons.
The argument that the current system is being abused is nonsense because fast cars only go fast when the driver wishes to.
The only abuse is by the insurance companies against the motorist! I think it is time to give Norwich Union the boot!
David Neath, Bury
I currently work in Switzerland. Here - and I believe in Germany - all vehicles must be insured for basic cover for any driver (Third Party and Liability insurance).
This means that anyone with the owner's permission can drive the insured car, and that car has been insured relative to its size and performance.
This means the charge/cost for "Driving Other Cars" is handled in a more logical way, and the database recording the insuring of a car deals with a "binary", the car is insured or it isn't!
I actually think Norwich Union are heading in the right direction with this.
Norwich Union are a bit of a joke, aren't they? Or are they angling on this as an excuse for huge premium rises?
If the problem is people driving higher performance cars on lower level insurance, surely the only emphasis is on NU to convey that the driver's usual cover wouldn't apply?
Don't they do that already? Or do they assume that most people can't read? Or perhaps it is in the small print? If so, MAKE IT BIGGER!
If someone is clearly told their insurance doesn't apply and they drive a higher level vehicle, they are breaking the law. Simple!
I regularly travel by train when I go to see my sister and then borrow her car for a few hours to visit relatives.
I am a Norwich Union policyholder. If they go ahead with their proposed change, I will need to make the entire journey by road, thereby increasing the risk of being involved in an accident.
I can understand the company's concern that some policyholders may be exploiting the existing provision to obtain insurance on the cheap, but surely there is a way of guarding against this, by allowing a comprehensive policyholder to drive another car only if that other car is insured?
Roy Thomas, Cardiff
I have a solution to the whole insurance thing. Instead of insuring the car for any driver, why not insure the driver for any car? A simple and easy solution.
Ean Bruce, Newcastle upon Tyne
In the last 18 months DOC cover has been very important to me.
An elderly neighbour, now 80 - with a disabled driver's permit as he has very limited mobility - fainted twice for no discernible reason and was advised not to drive for 18 months, while a judgement was made about whether or not it was safe for him to drive any more.
His wife does not drive, and this left them in great difficulty over shopping, hospital appointments and so on.
I have been driving them around, for the most part in their own vehicle, as that made them feel less dependent and kept their own car in a viable condition.
As I do not accept any contribution towards my petrol, they much prefer it when they can travel in their own car.
I missed the Norwich Union announcement about the withdrawal of this facility so know nothing of the abuse to which you refer. Nevertheless, because I hold other kinds of insurance with them they have encouraged me to consider asking them to provide my motoring cover. That now looks unlikely!
Joan Robinson, Bexleyheath
It's another way to save money/cut costs. As long as people are insured, who cares if they're driving around using DOC cover? You pay a fortune to insurance companies, so you might as well get your money's worth out of your policy.
There is a lot of confusion about what DOC actually is. The DOC cover you have under your current policies is restricted to Third Party Only.
This means that those people who currently drive vehicles belonging to friends or family members are responsible for any damage they cause to that vehicle.
If you let your friend drive your car under the DOC clause because you've had one too many and he's sober, then in the event of him writing the car off your insurer will not pay the bill.
There is no comprehensive cover if you are Driving Other Cars (DOC). Ask yourself whether the sober friend who you asked to drive you home that night would stump up to buy you a new one if he wrote it off.
At the moment young drivers are using DOC to avoid paying premiums. That means that honest customers are subsidising their claims.
Ask yourself whether you'd rather pay less for your insurance. If the answer is yes then removing DOC is one way of reducing your premium and of cutting back on uninsured driving, something that costs every policyholder an extra £30 per year.
Pool cars, hire cars, and courtesy cars are all covered by their own insurance. As far as DOC is concerned these scenarios are irrelevant. No hire company, garage or business is going to let you drive their car without comprehensive cover, which is what would happen if you drove them under DOC.
The government report into uninsured driving recommended that insurers remove DOC from their policies. The police want it removed so they can identify more uninsured drivers and bring more prosecutions.
David Ross, Wortham
Being insured to drive any car in an emergency
is essential. However young drivers should not
be allowed to drive mum or dad's car unless they are a
Raymond A Harvey, Southwold Suffolk
The obvious anomaly I can see is with respect to insurance grouping, and a change that I would advocate as logical and which would achieve a valid goal is: Limit DOC cover to any car belonging to an equal to or lesser insurance group to the one the policy is related.
Tony Lamb, Sheffield
I insure my car through Norwich Union, and will definitely switch my insurer if this change goes through.
I rarely rely on the DOC cover but it is absolutely crucial as an element of my insurance.
What if I'm travelling with someone in their car and they fall ill?
What if my car breaks down and I need to borrow a friend's car, or use a pool car at work, or use a courtesy car from my garage?
What happens if I volunteer to be the non-drinking driver when I go out with a group of friends on Saturday night, and my own car is too small?
A Atkins, Kingston Upon Thames
I don't like what Norwich Union has done, but there is a better solution.
Why doesn't car tax include 3rd party only insurance? This way every car with valid tax would be insured.
We can't abolish the tax disk system as all cars need to be registered. So why not keep the system and include the price of car insurance? Owners would then just buy top-up "fire and theft" or comprehensive.
Any untaxed cars should be crushed! Zero tolerance.
Andy Gray, Primrose Hill, London
I am soon to be an ex-Norwich Union customer.
Since NU took over my car insurance I have lost my protected no-claims bonus, had my excess increased to £150 and now it is removing my third party cover to drive other vehicles.
As far as I'm concerned this is the last straw.
I don't drive other vehicles often, but when I go out with my mother I sometimes drive her car.
My son will soon be getting his own car and I expect there to be times when I will want - or need - to drive his car.
I will be transferring my insurance to a company that will allow me to do this.
We have three cars for three drivers.
If one of the cars is off the road we have the option of driving/sharing one of the others so that we can all get to work.
We already have one policy with two named drivers on it. The other two cars are insured in the driver's name only but with the third party cover for other cars.
We pay a lot in insurance already and if we had to put three drivers on each policy it would cost even more.
Liz Eames, St Albans
Living out in the sticks in mid-Wales, there may be occasions when I would have to drive a friend's car (perhaps they have drunk too much at a dinner party) and it helps greatly.
Richard Horne, Welshpool, Powys, Wales
How ridiculous! What about a non-drinker driving a car after a night out when others would be over the drink limit?
Margaret Anderson, Wanborough
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