7 ways you might be voiding your car insurance

Finance Journalist · 24 August 2021
There are a number of common mistakes car owners can make that can void their car insurance.

Like many things in life, car insurance is a two-way street. Your insurer agrees to insure your vehicle, but in return you’ll need to make sure your car and the person driving it meet certain conditions. Here are seven things you’ll want to steer clear of if you want to keep your cover in place.

1. Worn tyres

Driving a car with worn out tyres is not only a safety risk, but it’s also risky from an insurance point of view. New tyres typically come with a tread depth of between 8 and 9mm and this can wear down over time. In Australia, the legal minimum tyre tread depth is 1.5mm. Anything below that and your car is considered unroadworthy and your insurance is likely to be voided.

2. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Although this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s worth noting that drugs can include certain medications like sleeping pills, painkillers, cold and flu tablets and other medications that can impair your ability to drive. Insurers also won’t cover you if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is over the legal limit, which will differ depending on the type of licence you have. Healthdirect Australia has extra tips on medicines and driving, including what to do to avoid driving under the influence (DUI).

3. Ridesharing without telling your insurer

If you use your car for a ridesharing service like Uber or DiDi without letting your insurer know, this can also void your insurance. Many insurers won’t cover your car if it is damaged while generating income. As well as ridesharing, this may extend to using your car for food deliveries like Uber Eats or Deliveroo. If you intend to pick up a sharing economy gig, make sure you let your insurer know. Some insurers can extend your policy to cover this.

4. Using the wrong fuel

Filling up your car with the wrong fuel can be an easy mistake to make. It can also be a potentially expensive one. If you’ve put petrol in a diesel car or vice versa, your insurer is unlikely to cover you if your car is damaged as a result of this. As NRMA notes, putting petrol in a diesel car can cause serious damage to the fuel injection system and engine. If you put diesel in a petrol engine, NRMA says your car usually won’t run as well but the results may be less serious.

5. Overloading your car

Another way you could void your insurance is by overloading your car. This is when you are carrying more people or a larger load than your car is designed to carry. It could happen if you’re moving homes, for example, and have filled your car to the brim with moving boxes. If your car tows an overloaded trailer, this is also likely to void your cover.

6. Modifying your car without telling your insurer

Not letting your insurer know about car modifications can also potentially void your insurance. This could include things like changing your car’s suspension, adding bull-bars or just doing a custom paint job. It’s worth checking your policy document to see what car modifications your insurer does and doesn’t cover.

7. Forgetting to pay your premiums

Forgetting to pay your insurance premiums is another easy mistake to make. If you don’t pay your premiums on time, your policy could be cancelled. If you pay your premiums monthly, you could avoid this by setting up a recurring direct debit. If you pay annually, it’s important to remember to pay your premium by the due date to ensure you maintain your cover.

This list doesn’t cover everything, so it’s a good idea to check your car insurance product disclosure statement (PDS) for a full list of exclusions.

Compare car insurance

If you’re considering car insurance policies, the comparison table below displays some of the policies currently available on Canstar’s database for a 30-39 year old male seeking cover in NSW without cover for an extra driver under 25. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by provider name (alphabetical) and features links direct to the providers’ website. Use Canstar’s car insurance comparison selector to view a wider range of policies.

Cover image source: PK Studio/Shutterstock.com

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