Insurance is rarely the main thing on our minds when we get in our cars; we have places to be and things to do, so why would we be thinking about a policy we sorted out ages ago? Unless we need to make a claim, we rarely think about car insurance again after we purchase it.

Many of us automatically assume that because we have car insurance, we will be covered for every given situation, but this isn’t always the case. There are many circumstances where you could find yourself uninsured without even realising it. These situations are usually preventable and often arise as a result of you making small mistakes that you may not have even thought about.

Here are five insurance mistakes that leave you uninsured without realising it:

Modifications

As much as we all love to customise our possessions, making our vehicles more personalised is something that we need to do with caution. Whether these are cosmetic changes, such as tinted windows or changes to the mechanics of the car itself, like adding new sports suspension, all the changes you make need to be declared to your insurer. You won’t be covered if you don’t, so you could be driving uninsured without realising it.

Some modifications can also significantly increase your premiums, so it would be wise to double check how your planned modifications could affect your premiums in advance, as they could end up costing you twice as much as you expected.

Using your car for work activities

Your policy may only cover you for social and domestic driving, so if you’re driving around for work purposes, you probably won’t be covered for doing so. This doesn’t mean you can’t drive to work, it is more than likely that you will be covered for commuting; however, you probably won’t be covered for work activities like making deliveries or picking up customers.

If you plan to drive for work purposes, you will likely need to get a business car insurance policy to cover you. This may end up costing you a bit more, as drivers who drive for business as well as pleasure are considered to be riskier to cover by insurers. Nonetheless, it is worth paying a bit extra to ensure you are covered.

Driving a friend’s car or lending your car to a friend

It’s estimated that around 5 million of us do this every year, but it can have serious repercussions should you get caught. Not everybody is insured to drive other people’s cars, so before you hop behind the wheel of your friend’s vehicle, remember to check if you are covered to do so.

Most car insurance policies will allow you to drive other people’s cars for a limited period, but some people (mostly under-25s) will be excluded from this. You can also get into serious trouble if you lend your own car to a friend who isn’t insured to drive other people’s cars. Penalties for this can include a fine of £270, six points on your licence and can even lead to you being disqualified from driving. If you are likely to need someone to drive your car over a certain time period, you can temporarily add them to your policy for a nominal fee.

Failing to update details

We all have busy lives and lots of things to do, but unfortunately, your insurer probably won’t consider “I didn’t get around to it” as an acceptable excuse for not updating your details. Insurers only cover you for the circumstances stated on your policy so, therefore, if any of your details or circumstances change, you won’t be covered for them – unless you tell them. If you move house or change your job you will need to inform your insurer as soon as you can, as you won’t be covered until they know.

Driving overseas

Many motorists don’t even think to check their policy to see if it covers them for driving abroad before setting off for their overseas adventure, but they should. Not all policies cover you for driving abroad, meaning that as soon as you roll off the ferry, you could be driving without insurance and not even know it. As a result, if you have an accident abroad, you could find yourself paying for the damages yourself, which would leave you pretty light on spending money.

Most UK policies will extend your cover automatically when you drive anywhere in the EU, but you can’t assume this and it is something that you need to check with your insurer. As well as this, this extended cover often only covers claims from other drivers, meaning you will still have to pay for any damages to your own vehicle. Some insurers allow you to extend your policy to cover you for driving abroad for 30 days, although this may be classified as an optional extra, and so you may need to pay extra for this.