Friday 20th March 2020
Panic buying could invalidate your car insurance

Panic buying a large amount of groceries and household items could invalidate your car insurance if you fill your car with goods that obstruct your vision or weigh down your vehicle excessively.

Luke Chillingsworth, Express, reports:

Car insurance policies could be invalidated by panic buying at supermarkets due to these driving rules.

Car insurance agreements could be axed by companies if road users stock up their cars with too many items which may lead to safety issues. Piling food and other household items into a vehicle could even see police officers stop you for breaking motoring laws. 

Overloading a car

“Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of load or passengers” could see motorists fined or issued penalty points for overloading their car. 

The law says road users should ensure their car does not exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit which is often available in the vehicle manual. 

Motorists can be fined up to a £300 fixed penalty and be issued three penalty points on their driving licence for overloading a vehicle. 

Some offences may be punishable with a court hearing which could see penalties rise to a £2,500 fine and a potential driving ban. 

Overloading a car is against the law because this can strain vital car functions such as tyres and brakes which may lead to a safety risk. 

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA said: “In most modern cars, you’d be hard pressed to take the vehicle over its weight restriction.

"However you should always check the handbook and ideally, weigh everything before putting it in the car.

 “If you feel you are close to breaching the limit, drivers should head to a weighbridge and get an accurate reading.”

The RAC confirms overloading a car with goods or people can invalidate a policy in a warning to road users.

 Motorists can avoid issues with overloading their car by simply checking their vehicle handbook. 

Overall weight limit should be stated clearly in the manual and many motorists may find this is lighter than they first imagined. 

Vehicle owners should weigh large items before they are packed in a car and must not forget to include the weight of a driver and passenger inside the maximum limit. 

Blocking road vision

Panic buying goods can also invalidate your policy or lead to fines if items block vital road vision tools such as windscreens and mirrors. 

 It is a legal requirement to ensure you have full road vision at all times meaning police officers can issue charges if items are causing distractions. 

This is a serious offence and road users could be charged with careless or dangerous driving offences. 

In severe cases this could see fines of up to £2,500 and a possible driving ban in a major warning to road users.

Insurance providers are unlikely to pay out on claims if they find out a motorist was driving without full road vision.

The company could argue that the crash was caused by an inability to identify hazards which will make the driver negligent.  

An invalidated policy means road users will not receive compensation for repairs leaving many to face costly car damage bills.

Increased crime 

Leaving many items in your car could make your vehicle a target for thieves which could also invalidate a policy. 

Having expensive items on show could draw in criminals who could then destroy your vehicle to gain access and steal things. 

 Insurance providers are unlikely to payout for claims in this situation as they could argue an owner’s actions failed to properly secure the car.

With people panic buying food and household items such as toilet roll during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to remember that safety and visibility when driving your vehicle should still be a top priority. Be Wiser recommends you put any purchases into the boot of your car where possible, or in the passenger foot wells or back seats. Piling goods too high in your car can cause them to fall and distract you, or obscure your vision. Though not a driving issue, we also recommend that people avoid panic buying altogether at this time, as many supermarkets have issued statements reassuring the public that they are stocking up their shelves and that there will be enough for everyone if customers shop as normal. At Be Wiser, we encourage you to pack any purchases into your car in a responsible way in order to keep yourself and other road users safe.

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