Specialist Car Insurance Advice

You may be tempted in the current economic climate to cut corners and take risks that maybe you normally wouldn’t.

This article by specialist car insurance expert Dave Healey explains why you should always think about the consequences of your actions:

Car Insurance – Lending Your Car Could Land You in Jail
By Dave Healey

How many times have you said to the wife, children or a friend ‘take my car’ and not thought any more of it? Even if it’s just a short trip down the road to the shops, you and the person you lend your car to, may be breaking the law! Furthermore if the person you lend the car to, in turn lends the car to another, you will be held liable for any damages caused by the other party, whether you were aware of their use or not.

If you own a car and decide to lend it to another person, it is your responsibility to check that the person you lend it to have adequate car insurance and that their cover extends to driving other vehicles. If you fail to make reasonable checks to verify these details you could be liable for subsequent damage that the person you lent it to causes, and indeed, you may find yourself on the end of a police prosecution for allowing an uninsured driver to use a motor vehicle contrary of section 143 of the Road Traffic Act. It is also you responsibility to ensure that the person you lend it to does not permit others to drive it.

In the United Kingdom, this principle was first established in UK law back in 1934 in the case of Monk v Warbey and Others. Mr Warbey owned a car which was insured to permit driving by himself and other members of his family. He lent it to his friend Mr Knowles who in turn lent it to a Mr May to drive. At some time during use of the car Mr May was involved in an accident for which he was deemed responsible, with a car driven by Mr Monk. Neither May nor Mr Knowles had insurance for third party risks and neither had the means or funds to satisfy the judgement in court against them. It was held that Mr Warbey had originally committed a breach of duty of sub section 1 of section 143 of the Road Traffic Act, by parting with the control of the car to a person who was not insured, and he was therefore held liable for all damages and costs.

It was found in court that Mr Warbey had been informed prior to parting with the Vehicle that neither Mr Knowles nor Mr May had adequate car insurance covering third party risks and had taken no steps to remedy this. Counsel for Warbey argued that the car accident involving May was too far removed from Warbey’s breach of the statute to make Warbey liable for damages to the third party. The Judge disagreed and Warbey was found liable, and the principle enacted by this case remains in UK law to the current day. Up until this point in time the Act did not extend liability to users of cars to third parties, beyond the requirements of common law, but the decision in this particular case imposes upon the owner of a car, whether they have car insurance or not, an additional duty to injured third parties and enables any third party to recover damages from the car owner who permits his car to be used in such a way, knowingly or not.

The only exception to this rule is in the case of employees using a car owned by their employer, where the person driving the car had reasonable grounds to believe that insurance was in force when the used the car.

It would therefore be very prudent if you checked the levels of cover of your own car insurance policy before agreeing to the use of your vehicle by another, and indeed certify that they are covered by either your own or their current car insurance. Failure to do so could land you in the courts!

Dave Healey is a specialist motor underwiter who has been underwriting car insurance policies and in particular classic car insurance polices at Lloyds for over thirty years

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