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Can I drive someone else’s car?

The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. If you have a fully comprehensive policy, this will entitle you to third party cover only on someone else’s vehicle. But this is not a long term solution, instead it is worth checking the terms and conditions of your current insurer or look at becoming a named driver on their vehicle’s insurance policy.

You may find yourself in a situation when you need to drive someone else’s car. Whether it is an emergency purpose (someone has fallen ill or injured), your car has broken down or maybe your driver is intoxicated, it is common to be in a position where you need to drive a car that is not yours and you are not insured on.

Getting someone’s “permission” is not enough

Getting permission to drive their car is simply not enough. Sure, its possible, but it does not make it legal in the lies of the law. Whilst you may be doing the right thing because maybe the owner’s driver is not in a good condition to drive, it may not hold up in court (or as a claim), if you do not have at least third party insurance.

You will need some kind of insurance

Legally, you cannot drive a car without insurance. This is part of the Continuous Insurance Enforcement rule which was established in 2011 which states that all road vehicles must be insured, as it protects all parties involved: drivers, pedestrians and more.

Vehicle insurance is purchased for the actual car, bike or van, not for the individual. There are different levels of cover available. The highest level is “fully comprehensive” which covers any damages to you or your vehicle and also any third parties including people you may have been in an accident with or any pedestrians. Also, covered is any damages by fire, flood, theft, vandalism or other peril.

The lowest end of cover is “third party only” which contributes to any compensation and damages for third parties and their vehicles (other drivers or pedestrians you come into contact with), but not your own vehicle or injuries.

By having fully comprehensive cover, most insurers will allow you to drive someone else’s car as it gives you the “driving other cars extension” – and this gives you third party cover only. Whilst it means you can legally drive another vehicle, it is certainly not a long term solution as it only covers third parties. If the vehicle is damaged or you are injured whilst driving, you are not in a position to claim for anything and any costs will be incurred from your own pocket, which could be thousands of pounds.

Typically, the following criteria applies for the driving other cars extension to be effective:

  • The car does not belong to the driver and is not hired to them under a hire purchase agreement;
  • The car is being driven with the owners expressed consent;
  • The policyholder still has their vehicle and it has not been ‘written-off’;
  • The policyholder is aged 25 or over;
  • The policyholder’s specific motor insurance certificate expressly stipulates they have the driving other cars extension;
  • The vehicle they are looking to drive is itself insured;
  • The policyholder’s occupation is not connected with the motor trade or an occupation which requires them to regularly drive other vehicles.


Depends on your current insurance policy

It is essential to check the small print of your insurance policy to see what the rules are regarding driving other people’s cars. The act of driving other cars extension needs to be physically written on your motor certificate (this is now paperless, so can be found online through your insurer) or on your insurance document.

There are some things considered obvious, like being able to drive your spouse’s or child’s car, but this is not always allowed by certain insurers, hence it is important to check.

Being caught driving without the right level of cover or insurance can lead to prosecution, points off your license and further implications to the owner of the vehicle too.

What happens if you get caught driving someone else’s car? 

Without the correct insurance, it can lead to heavy fines including 6 to 8 penalty points and prosecution. It is no small matter. Once you have accumulated 12 points, you are no longer able to legally drive on UK roads for 6 months.

The IN10 is the offence for driving without insurance and the IN12 is giving consent to someone to drive your car without insurance (Source: Penalty Points Endorsement)

You want to avoid getting a driving conviction as this will make your insurance policy more expensive in the future and you may not be approved by various competitive insurers in the UK. Driving convictions include being caught drink driving, driving without a license, driving whilst banned, driving despite being in an accident including hit and runs.


Become a named driver 

Whilst driving another person’s vehicle with third party only cover is acceptable in the short-run, it is not a long term solution. If you were involved in a serious accident, third party cover would only pay out other drivers, other vehicles and any other third parties involved, but not cover any of your costs. This could be any medical bills if you were injured in an accident or the cost of any repairs or replacements to your vehicle.

If you see driving someone’s vehicle as being a more regular thing, maybe for your child, partner or spouse, you can look at becoming a “named driver.” This is where you are officially named on the vehicle’s insurance policy so you can legally drive the vehicle and can opt for fully comprehensive, third party with fire, flood and theft or third party only.

In fact, there are benefits to adding people as a named driver or being a named driver. Notably, having someone who is older and more experienced, with a good driving record can actually make your premium cheaper. This is common for young drivers who add a parent or two as a named driver. It assumes that the parent or more experienced driver will be sharing some of the driving of the vehicle and therefore collectively, the vehicle has a lower risk or being in an accident and making a claim. However, you cannot add someone as a named driver to jimmy the car insurance premium and then do none of the driving. This is known as fronting and is illegal.

In the case of having multiple company vehicles, you have any option to apply for fleet insurance any driver which means that any driver named on the policy can use any of the vehicles in the fleet. This is perfect for people working different shifts in the same organisation or if someone is ill or a vehicles breaks down – the drivers can simply shift between vehicles and still be insured effectively.


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