‘Just taking a friend's car for a spin' - 6.7 million motorists risk driving uninsured

  • 14 million motorists have driven someone else’s car in the past year and nearly half did not know if they were insured to do so
  • 12.9 million people (30 per cent) think having a fully comprehensive motor insurance policy automatically gives them the same level of cover when driving another car  
  • Convenience, lack of access to another car, emergencies and short trips are common reasons for driving another vehicle

Nearly 14 million (26 per cent) people have driven someone else’s car in the past 12 months, with 6.7 million of those behind the wheel potentially driving without valid insurance, reveals new research1 from Direct Line Motor Insurance. 

Only 38 per cent of those who have driven another car in the last year checked they were insured to do so. Some 4.5 million people (32 per cent) said they were fine because they had their own fully comprehensive policy, while 1.2 million (nine per cent) were not sure but presumed they were covered. Nearly a million drivers either knowingly drove without insurance or didn’t know at all if they had sufficient cover.

Direct Line is urging drivers to check they have the correct cover if needing to drive another vehicle, as just one in six (13 per cent) people correctly understand that having their own policy does not guarantee valid cover when driving another car. Almost a third (30 per cent) of motorists, 12.9 million people, incorrectly believe if they have fully comprehensive insurance on their own car, it means they have the same level of cover when driving someone else’s.

It seems many drivers don’t necessarily think about the insurance implications when taking another car for a spin. A fifth (19 per cent) of drivers who have driven another car said it was simply the most convenient vehicle at the time, while one in eight (15 per cent) didn’t have access to their own car. Needing a car for an emergency or only for a short journey are other common reasons for driving another vehicle (14 per cent).

Table one: Top 10 reasons for driving someone else’s car


Proportion of people who drove for this reason

Number of people who drove for this reason

It being the most convenient vehicle at the time

19 per cent

2.6 million

Not having access to their own car

15 per cent

2.1 million

It was an emergency

14 per cent

2 million

It was only a short journey

14 per cent

1.9 million

It was for an everyday trip

13 per cent

1.8 million

My car was damaged

12 per cent

1.7 million

To go on holiday

11 per cent

1.7 million

I needed to get somewhere e.g., to work or to the shops

11 per cent

1.6 million

To visit relatives

11 per cent

1.5 million

To transport items e.g., furniture

11 per cent

1.5 million

Source: Direct Line Motor Insurance, 2022

Lorraine Price, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, commented: “This research paints a worrying picture of people driving while uninsured because they haven’t checked the details of their cover. It may feel like taking a friend’s car for a quick spin or popping to the shops is low risk, but you could be doing so as an uninsured driver, a potentially dangerous and costly mistake. Take the time to check your own policy and the policy of the car you are driving before getting behind the wheel.”

Driving other cars is no longer a standard element of comprehensive car insurance policies. The certificate of insurance will state who has cover to drive other cars. Direct Line customers on fully comprehensive policies are covered for injury to third parties or damage caused to their property as a result of driving another car, but not damage to the car being driven. For more information, please visit www.directline.com/car-cover


Notes to Editors

1     Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,001 adults between 4th – 8th February

For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler
PR manager – Direct Line  

Tel: 01651 832 095

Email: [email protected]

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com/home-cover