Biba highlights inconsistencies between different insurers' DOC clauses

Biba has urged insurers to make the scope of cover provided by "driving other cars" (DOC) extensions to be made clearer.

The broker body said the extension needed to be "tidied up and brought up to date," as consumers did not understand the cover provided. This left them at risk of unintentionally driving without insurance.

Graham Trudgill, technical service manager at Biba, said there were inconsistencies between different insurers' DOC clauses.

Some insurers required the vehicle being driven under a DOC extension to be insured, but others did not. The type of cover was also inconsistent, he said, with some DOC clauses providing comprehensive cover, but others giving only third party, fire and theft protection.

Another example was that some DOC clauses did not provide cover abroad.

"Consumers need to understand the extension better. The clause needs to provide basic protection to the policyholder," said Trudgill. "It is an important clause and we want it to stay, but it needs to be tidied up and brought up to date."

But a spokesman for the ABI said it would be difficult to standardise the DOC wording. "It is a competitive issue."

Biba's call came as the ABI announced that a new model wording to close a loophole in the DOC extension had been approved.

The voluntary wording is aimed at preventing the DOC extension being used to collect vehicles seized for not being insured. It is designed to appear on motor insurance certificates.

Justin Jacobs, head of motor insurance at the ABI said: "Since the police highlighted this abuse we have acted quickly to stamp it out. This wording will help the police to make full use of their powers to tackle the menace of these illegal, often dangerous, motorists. Law-abiding drivers will still be able to use this provision for its original use of driving other cars on an occasional basis."

Up to one in five of the 50,000 uninsured vehicles being seized by the police are thought to be retrieved this way. One man in the Midlands recovered 60 vehicles by abusing this provision, the ABI said.

Meredydd Hughes, chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, said: "The police have been frustrated by individuals abusing this provision to recover seized vehicles, which often end up back on the roads uninsured. I welcome this move which should help police forces in their crackdown on this serious problem."

The Motor Insurers' Bureau welcomed the move and said it would strongly encourage its members to adopt a similar wording.

Motor giant Royal Bank of Scotland Insurance said it would adopt the wording saying it would "help to combat the wider problem of uninsured driving".