It is indeed a great pleasure to lock horns with Chris Manley on the issue of DOC (Letters, 22 September).
As Chris correctly points out in connection with private sales, DOC cover is third party only. This is still better than the other alternative - driving without any cover at all.
In these cases, the test route is usually short and local, and the driver is invariably accompanied by the owner. I agree it could be better, but, until more insurers are prepared to permit temporary accompanied open driving, what else can a private seller do?
I am not sure that the perceived abuse of a policy benefit is necessarily a reason for taking it out of the cover.
If insurers generally followed this principle, there would be hardly any cover left on motor or household policies.
The generally held impression is that DOC is there for emergencies, but, again, this is open to interpretation.
It is an emergency when a comatose driver is blocking the carriageway, but, to some people, it is also an emergency when a family car is blocking Dad's car on the drive and Dad is late for the Sunday football.
One could also ask why a driver should pay to be added to the policy of a car he rarely drives when he is already paying for DOC cover on his own policy.
Surely the issue is not so much about abuse as about underwriting, pricing, and 'treating customers fairly'.
If insurers are looking for anachronisms or 'difficult' aspects of cover to review, may I suggest the following:
1."....or has held and is not disqualified for holding a licence..." This goes back to the days when all licences were issued for three years only. Do we really need it now?
2.Racing, Pacemaking, Speed Testing, Rallies, Competitions. Can anyone explain what these mean? Insurers have been churning out these words for years. Does it mean I can tow my caravan to a site on Anglesey, but I can't tow it to a caravan rally? (I have actually been told this by an insurer).
Am I prohibited from taking part in my church car treasure hunt? (I've been told this as well).
3."Commercial Travelling". What about this old chestnut? Ask six underwriters to define commercial travelling and you will get six different answers.
If an insurer wishes to exclude a particular risk, I think this should be clearly defined in the policy.
Just a final comment on abuse. As a young man, I was instructed to issue a third party only policy on an old banger belonging to the late Jim Clark.
Apparently, he was regularly asked to take the wheel and "try out" friends' cars. Having been told to get on with it, it was more than my job was worth to utter the word "abuse", even if I had known what it meant.
Roy Rodger FCII
Insurance Training and Consultancy