Ask the Expert: Has my insurer just refused to cover my car?

Suzuki Swift
Swapping from a previous-generation Suzuki Swift to the new version shouldn't void your policy

Dear Alex,

I swapped from a previous-generation Suzuki Swift to the new version, but my insurer said it was “unable to offer cover” on my existing policy and also would not offer cover on a new policy. It then cancelled the policy. Does the term “unable to offer cover” mean I have been refused insurance and should therefore state that in future insurance applications?


Dear CG,

Long story short: no, it doesn’t – though your confusion is understandable. As you imply, as part of the quotation process, most insurers ask potential customers whether they have previously been refused insurance and warn of the grave consequences of not answering accurately.

Ironically, these consequences can include having one’s insurance cancelled or voided. Cancellation means that a policy is stopped immediately and without notice; voiding means that the policy is treated as though it never existed, meaning the driver would retrospectively be uninsured in the event of a claim – with all the legal ramifications that that could involve.

Insurance can be cancelled or voided for a number of reasons, which can include failure to pay, making a fraudulent claim, “fronting” (where a higher-risk individual is declared as a named driver on a policy held by a lower-risk policyholder, but is in fact the main driver), failure to disclose information correctly when applying for insurance, or driving recklessly on a black box policy.

It is these actions to which the refusal question usually refers. By contrast, an insurer declining to cover a car because it falls outside its appetite for risk wouldn’t typically be considered a refusal to provide insurance – strange though that might sound – and you therefore wouldn’t usually need to declare it in answer to this question.

For all that, I think the insurance industry could do with re-wording that question – it’s no wonder you were confused, and there’s great potential to similarly confuse a great many potential customers. Much better, I think, to use the phrase “Have you ever had insurance cancelled or voided as a result of fraud or failure to pay?” or suchlike.

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