At this point, it feels like most of the world has been ordered to stay at home as the lockdown continues without end. Whilst this is an opportunity for one to spend more time with their family, it is also a time to review one’s love affair with their care.
Notably, do you need a car, and if you do, what is going to happen to your insurance and warranty coverage at a time when you are effectively told to remain at home no matter what?
Like most countries, you can not operate a vehicle on public roads in England (or Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland) without the proper insurance coverage. The reason is straightforward – cars can be dangerous, and you need to protect yourself from liability should you find yourself in an accident.
Whilst this arrangement makes sense during times of normalcy, what happens to your insurance when you no longer need to your vehicle? It turns out that this can be a more difficult question to answer.
First, many insurance providers haven’t even imagined a scenario where 80 percent or more of the vehicles the cover would be taken off the road. Second, rules governing mandatory coverage for cars and drivers are in the same boat. As such, we find ourselves in a most unprecedented situation – at least in the last 50 years or so in that most of the UK is not driving.
At this point, you might find yourself still paying for coverage you don’t need if you are like most people you probably wouldn’t even think to contact your insurer to see if you could get a discount on your premium. But this is precisely what you should be doing, especially if you are paying for your premiums monthly.
Many insurers have already announced plans to either discount premiums or extend coverage, and this is important as you might find yourself stuck at home with little use for a vehicle and still have the monthly bills – insurance, loan, etc. to show for it.
Keep in mind that you probably won’t want to cancel your policy outright as you might need your car to get to the market, and as such, you will need some sort of coverage in place. However, as you are driving less than before, it might make sense to adjust the amount of insurance you have.
One way to accomplish this might be to increase any deductible you have on your policy. Whilst the overall coverage would remain the same; you would be forced to pay more in you were in an accident. But since you are driving less – or not driving at all – this might be a prudent course of action.
Also, you might want to update yourself on the procedures to contact your insurance company as many offices have cut back to reduced hours or even closed their call centres altogether. As such, you might need to download an app or keep alternative contact details on hand in case you need to contact your insurance company during an emergency.
Keep in mind that the claims process might be affected by the pandemic. Whilst you might be able to prepare for this in advance, you will want to ask your insurer any questions on how to proceed in the eventuality that you need to submit a claim.
What about your warranty?
Regarding the manufacturer’s warranty on your vehicle, this is where it gets tricky as almost no carmakers have announced contingencies to deal with the potential impact of a shutdown on the time or mileage requirements of your warranty.
For those who are leasing a vehicle the such down might be a blessing in disguise as you can bank the unused mileage towards the remainder of your lease. This is especially true if you usually drive a lot.
Also, if your car needs service but you can’t bring it to the garage due to the shutdown, then you might want to consider contacting the manufacturer or your finance company to find out the best option. Whilst you don’t want to risk driving your car anymore, you also don’t want the clock to run out on the vehicle’s warranty period, as you could end up having to pay for any repairs yourself.
Another option might be to consider getting an extended auto warranty with no waiting period. This form of added protection could give you peace of mind – especially if your warranty is limited or has expired. The bonus of having no waiting period is that the coverage will be in effect at midnight of the day you purchase it. Unlike most of the other companies that make you wait 30-days and/or drive 1,000-miles.
There is no doubt that the shutdown linked to the COVID19 pandemic is changing our lives. Whilst many of the things we used to take for granted like the FA Cup Final, Six Nations Rugby, or even auto insurance and warranties have been affected; you can do something about the latter.
Contact your insurer and the car company to get more details on any discount and extensions and, if needed, get added protection to make sure that when this is over, your vehicle has the coverage is needs.