Do you need insurance to test drive a car?

January 12, 2024 by

Wondering what the insurance implications are for test driving a car? Wonder no more

Test driving a car can be an important part of the buying process, but while it’s easy to want to get behind the wheel as soon as you can, you should find out what the insurance situation is before you do. It’s an exciting part of buying a new car, and once you’ve taken your test drive (or even before!), see how much you can save on your new car through Carwow’s network of trusted dealers.

All cars – even those being test driven – must be insured before they can be driven on the road, and severe penalties exist for uninsured drivers, even if the lapse was unintentional.

Do I need insurance to test drive a car?

Yes, absolutely, positively, 100% of the time; even if you only have the bare minimum of third-party cover, you must be insured to drive a car before you take it on the public highway.

Will I be covered under a dealership’s insurance?

Just because you must have insurance to test drive a car, doesn’t mean you have to take a policy out yourself.

If you’re buying from a car dealer, chances are they will have an insurance policy that covers people test driving their cars. Do be sure to check the details of this cover, though: there may be age restrictions, or certain exemptions to what the insurance covers you for. You may also need extra cover if you’re taking an extended test drive over a day or more, though – but again, the dealer may be able to sort this for you.

What if I want to test a car being sold privately?

If you’re buying a car from a private individual rather than a dealer you will need to make sure you are insured to test drive the car.

Comprehensive insurance policies may well provide third-party cover if you drive someone else’s car with their permission, but this is not true of all policies, so be sure to check with your provider before taking a test drive.

It’s also worth highlighting that third-party cover won’t pay out for damage to the car you are driving if you have a collision – it will only cover the costs of other cars/people/buildings you damage.

Because of this, taking out fully comprehensive temporary insurance cover for the car you want to drive on the day you want to drive it is a wise move.

We would also advise anyone selling their car privately to insist anyone coming to test drive it is fully insured to drive it; if they crash the car and only have third-party cover, you could find yourself really stuck. Or you could avoid all the hassle of selling privately by heading over to our Sell My Car service, which will see dealers bid on your car, leaving you to pick the best offer.

Can I get temporary car insurance to test drive a car?

Absolutely: this can be arranged either with a dedicated temporary insurance provider offering ‘day cover’, or by contacting your existing insurer and asking them to cover you fully comprehensively to drive the car you want to test drive.

How much you pay will depend on the car you want to test drive and your own personal profile.

Will my comprehensive car insurance cover test driving a car?

As covered above, many comprehensive insurance policies offer a ‘Driving Other Cars’ provision, but this is not true of all policies, while you may well only be insured for third-party liability.

What’s the punishment for test driving a car without insurance?

Pretty hefty: if you drive a car without insurance and are caught, you can expect a minimum of six penalty points on your driving licence, as well as a £300 fine. Depending on circumstances, you could even end up in court, where you could receive an unlimited fine and a driving ban. The car you’re driving could even be confiscated and destroyed.

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