Key changes to rules for drivers during the pandemic

The ongoing Coronavirus crisis has had a major impact on motorists – from the way many use their car to the insurance cover they have, through to the ability to obtain and renew driving licences and the availability of servicing and MOT testing.

The situation is changing all the time and motorists need to be aware of the measures in place to help them as well as key deadlines. GoCompare Car Insurance rounds-up the temporary measures available to support drivers during the pandemic.

Automatic 11-month extension of photocard driving licences and entitlement to drive

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has further extended the period for renewing out-of-date driving licences to help ease a backlog of work. Drivers whose licence expires between 1 February and 31 December 2020 will automatically receive a 11-month extension. Drivers affected by the temporary extension do not need to apply to renew their licence until they receive a reminder which will be issued before the extension expires.

The same extension applies to drivers aged 70 and over who need to renew their entitlement to drive (usually renewed every three years).

395,000 more driving tests to be made available from 14 September

As a result of the COVID pandemic, driving tests were suspended for several months. To help clear the backlog, from 14 September the Driving Standards Agency will extend the period in which tests are available from six to 18 weeks, adding over 375,000 more test appointments between this date and the end of January 2021.

Insurers extend pledges to support policyholders

Pledges made by members of the Association of British Insurers to support policyholders during the pandemic have been extended to 31 October 2020. The commitments include waiving any requirements to extend cover for key workers who may need to drive to different locations, people who want to help their communities by transporting medicines or groceries to support those affected by Coronavirus and, those who need to use their car to drive to different locations for work because of the pandemic.

Policyholders do not need to contact their insurer to update their documents or extend their cover.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) temporary measures for those in financial difficulty

In July, the FCA announced proposals to extend a series of temporary measures to help insurance policyholders and premium finance product holders who find themselves in temporary financial difficulties because of COVID. The measures, which cover all types of general insurance, mean that insurers are expected to offer flexibility on payments including payment deferrals of up to three months and waive fees for cancellation or any amendments, such as reducing annual mileage for car insurance. Insurers are also expected to consider whether there are other products they can offer which would better meet the customer’s needs.

The FCA has extended the temporary measures for a further three months, until 31 October 2020 and is consulting with the industry on whether some of the measures should be made permanent and applied to any situation in which customers are in financial difficulty, including those unrelated to Coronavirus.

MOT extension

The Government ended its six-month MOT extension on 1 August. Vehicles due an MOT test between 30 March and 31 July received an automatic six-month extension to their current certificate. Cars with an MOT expiry date on or after 1 August will be tested as normal. The DVLA is issuing reminder notices to drivers as their cars approach their test due date.

Motorists qualifying for the six-month extension are still required to keep their car in a road legal condition and can be prosecuted for not doing so. For more information on how to keep your car MOT-ready: https://www.gocompare.com/motoring/guides/mot-checklist/.

Lee Griffin, CEO and one of the founders of GoCompare, commented, “For many people, running a car is essential to their everyday life for commuting to work, shopping or, supporting family and friends. COVID is having a significant impact on motorists – affecting everything from the availability of serving and MOT testing to obtaining or renewing a driving licence.

“In response to the ongoing crisis, the Government, regulators, insurers and other financial organisations have put temporary financial and practical measures in place to help motorists. We’re pleased to see that the real need to provide motorists with continued support has been recognised with the automatic extensions to expiring driving licences and the continuation of supportive measures from insurers. But it is important that drivers keep on top of these changes as well as understanding their responsibilities and the help available to them.”

GoCompare Car Insurance’s five-point plan for anyone worried about paying for their car insurance:

  1. Talk to your insurer as soon as possible, ask them what help is available in terms of reducing or deferring premiums.
  2. This may include lowering your stated annual mileage to see if it reduces your premium. There should be no administrative charge for doing this.
  3. Check any ‘add-ons’ you are paying for. For example, key cover – which you may be prepared to remove from your policy to save money. Again, there should be no administrative charge for doing this.
  4. Consider reducing your cover level to third party, fire and theft to see if this lowers your premium. Remember though, if you lower your cover level and then incur accidental or malicious damage, you will not be covered. Confirm with your insurer that there will be no administrative charge for doing this.
  5. If you can keep your car off the road temporarily, then you could SORN the vehicle. But beware, this would mean that you will have no insurance cover at all. You may still want cover for fire and theft (sometimes called a ‘laid-up’ policy).

For more information on Coronavirus and your money visit: https://www.gocompare.com/coronavirus-insurance-money/

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