Millions of people are unwittingly driving cars uninsured because they do not realise they are not covered by the insurance of the car owner.
Motorists caught helping out a friend or family member by driving their car may not know that they could be uninsured to do so, which could land them with a £5,000 fine and even a driving disqualification.
According to a study by insurance provider LV=, nearly two million people unwittingly drove a car uninsured in 2011 either because the owner's insurance did not cover them, their own insurance did not cover them on other vehicles, or they did not have any insurance in their own name.
The driver and the owner of a car can both be prosecuted if police catches them, emphasising the importance of understanding your car insurance and the rules surrounding it.
Are you insured to drive a friend's car?
Only entirely comprehensive car insurance insures a person to get behind the wheel of someone else's vehicle (with permission), but this isn't part of all policies so it is very important to check.
If yours is fully comprehensive, it will only enable you to drive another car as a 'third-party' insurance driver, so you are not covered for the cost of repairs of the car in a crash - although you are covered for repairs of other cars in the crash.
Best to check before agreeing
The study also revealed that the number of people borrowing a friend or family member's car rose by 14% compared to the previous year, while roughly 50% of owners who illegally let people borrow their car are doing so a minimum or once per month.
Children using their parents' car while visiting or housemates using each other's vehicles are the most frequent reasons given for borrowing a car uninsured.
Furthermore, if a car is damaged in an accident while an uninsured driver is behind the wheel, the owner would not only have to pay up for repairs but could also face prosecution.
And as the insurance provider is legally responsible for paying for a third party's repairs after an accident under the Road Traffic Act even if the insurance is invalid, the provider can then get the money for this from the uninsured driver.
Both the IN10 (driving without insurance) and IN12 (allowing someone else to drive your car without insurance) offences will leave you with an automatic six to eight points on your license at a minimum, but can also mean a £5,000 fine and a driving disqualification.