Is your car insurance as comprehensive as you think?

As much as we may not want to do it, renewing our car insurance is one of those yearly chores that all motorists share. What’s more, it can be a complicated business working out what level of cover you need. We all have to ask ourselves some common questions: ‘Do I really need a courtesy car? Am I likely to be driving abroad this year?’ Quite often, however, you may assume that certain things are included in your policy – a dangerous business when it comes to cover. There’s no point in taking a risk, so we decided to point out a selection of common assumptions that could prove costly if you don’t check with your insurer first.

What’s up, DOC?

Perhaps the main area to be aware of is what insurers call DOC – or Driving Other Cars to us. This can be particularly confusing, as providers’ cover can differ hugely when it comes to non-owned vehicles.

Cover to drive other cars should be included in most fully comprehensive policies – though if you’re under 25 the chances are it won’t be. Whatever your age, it’s vital that you check this with your provider before taking the plunge. Never just assume, whatever your friends or other people may tell you.

On top of that, here are a few of the things regularly assumed to be included in your cover that may well not be:

* Cover for vehicle contents in the event of theft – These are often capped at a certain claim limit, especially on audio systems. Ordinary contents, such as shopping or sports gear, may not be covered unless stated (although some items may be covered on relatively short trips if you have home contents insurance – for more on this see our Home Insurance FAQs).

* Driving in Europe – Cover for driving on the continent is regularly assumed and isn’t always included. Often, it’s provided for a limited period of the year, and be warned – you may have to inform your insurer before travelling if you are to get cover.

* Non-standard parts – unless part of the manufacturers’ standard specification, these are often not covered.

* Courtesy car – a common assumption is that you’ll always be provided with one of these if your car needs repairs. However, with some policies you are only entitled to it if you use an approved repairer.

* Legal cover – again, this is often assumed but is not always included.

* Windscreen cover – this is usually standard, but it’s worth a check to see if this hasn’t been included.

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