On the 23rd March 2020 Boris Johnson addressed the UK nation and announced a series of measures to be put into immediate effect to tackle and combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As well as announcing new rules on who can leave their house and even then only for essential journeys, he also permitted that only shops providing essential services could remain open. The small list of services that were deemed as falling into the essential category included supermarkets, fuel stations and pharmacies. But where did this leave you if your car needed a service, MOT or repair? Were vehicle and MOT stations included within this list?
Concern was soon raised that driver’s could find themselves in breach of the law and ultimately a hefty fine if they did not maintain their vehicle or renew their MOT certificates. But how can you arrange to take your vehicle for an MOT if you are in self isolation or vulnerable?
Whilst it was generally anticipated that the roads should, where possible not be quite so busy now that everyone was only to exit their homes for essential travel. General upkeep, MOT tests and maintenance of their vehicles would still be required to enable people to carry out essential work or travel to obtain essential items.
As of 7th April 2020, the DVLA website confirmed the new government guidelines. The DVLA have a limited number of staff working on site dealing solely with online applications from those people who are directly involved in the response to the Covid 19 Pandemic (ie: HGV drivers and other essential key working staff). Driving tests have been postponed for the foreseeable future and applications generally, especially paper requests are not being handled until further notice.
The DVSA further announced that from 30th March 2020, MOT dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by 6 months for any MOT’s due on or after the 30th March 2020. The MOT expiry date will usually be updated on the day your MOT is due to expire. There is however a link on the DVLA website which allows you to check your MOT history to see when your MOT expiry date has been extended. This extension is recognised by the DVSA’s IT systems and therefore means you can continue to tax your vehicle during this pandemic.
MOT tests for buses, trailers and HGV’s have also been suspended for 3 months at the time of writing.
You do need to still ensure your vehicle is roadworthy throughout this period though. If your vehicle requires repair or service during this time it is recommended you phone around local garages and ascertain if they are available to work on your vehicle. It is recommended that you clean all touch points on your vehicle before and after any work is carried out.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI’s), have, as of the 8th April 2020, announced further insurance support for taxi and private hire drivers who seek to carry out alternative sources of income during this period of isolation. As of 8th March 2020 and during the Covid 19 restrictions, they will NOT need to contact their insurer to extend their existing cover while driving their vehicle carrying parcels, medical supplies, household goods, groceries or takeaway meals. This will remain in place until the end of the Covid-19 restrictions or until 31st July 2020, whichever is sooner.
All of the ABI’s motor insurance members will also offer enhanced help to any of their customers under their private car insurance. Most insurers have updated their websites confirming the help they will provide during this crisis. The support they offer extends to those now having to drive to their workplace who otherwise used other forms of transport. They will be pleased to learn during the restrictions their policy will be covered for business use travel. The same applies to those assisting their community for voluntary purposes such as transporting medicines or groceries to others in isolation. There is no need to upgrade or amend your car policy with your car insurance provider to cover for these activities. Consideration is also in place if you are a key worker should you now be required to drive to locations different than your usual place of work. However if in any doubt, please check your individual insurance provider for full details. Most display the changes that are in place on their websites.
At the time of writing, whilst there has been some discussion in the news as to whether you could invalidate your car insurance should you be involved in an accident whilst carrying out a non-essential journey, currently there has been no specific guidance to confirm this is likely to take effect with insurers, but if in doubt, perhaps consider whether your journey is essential to ensure you comply with the current government guidelines provided.
Finally all we ask is that you all please stay safe during these unprecedented times.