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UK Viewers, Buying A Used Car Online?- Be Careful

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Online car buying websites:  Lockdown warning on packaged breakdown cover and temporary insurance

With the likes of Cinch and Cazoo omni-present on lockdown TV screens, GoCompare looks at the insurance cover provided as part of the deal

  • As car showrooms close, GoCompare warns online car buyers to get full annual insurance and breakdown cover as soon as possible after buying;
  • Breakdown cover is basic, time-limited and only covers problems occurring during a journey;
  • The ‘free’ driveaway insurance provided only lasts a few days. To stay road-legal drivers need to remember to arrange annual car insurance.

Online car buying sites are springing up like mushrooms in a wet forest and bragging that they are offering a better way to buy a used car.  However, GoCompare Car Insurance is warning buyers that the breakdown cover and insurance provided by online used car retailers is NOT a replacement for annual cover. 

The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the take-up of online used car retailing.  Customers can research, browse listings, watch videos of thousands of used cars and purchase vehicles entirely from the safety and comfort of their own homes.  The direct-to-the-customer retailers also provide free warranties with roadside assistance and, free driveaway insurance. 

The vehicles are quality guaranteed having passed detailed inspection processes and typically come with a warranty, and a money back guarantee.   Customers can also arrange finance through the sites to complete their purchase.  Customers can either arrange a ‘click and collect’ or home delivery service.   Free driveaway insurance and 90-day warranties with breakdown cover are also provided.   

The 90-day warranties provided by Cazoo and Cinch include basic roadside breakdown assistance.  This covers your car if it breaks down during a journey.  If the vehicle can’t be fixed in-situ, it is towed to a local garage.  Home start (which covers a breakdown at your home address or immediate vicinity), national recovery (which includes call-out, roadside repair and a tow to anywhere in the UK) and, onward journey (which gets you to your destination despite your car breakdown) are not included.

Problems with car batteries are one the main causes of car breakdowns.  Leaving your car unused for a while, or only using it for short journeys are common reasons batteries fail.  Winter driving, with greater use the lights and heater, also puts extra pressure on your car’s battery.    If your car is parked outside your home and won’t start, it won’t be covered by the breakdown element of its warranty.   

The free driveaway insurance offered by the used car online retailers is a type of temporary car insurance.  It is generally bought by car buyers to provide them with enough cover to drive their new purchase home before they have had the chance to arrange an annual policy.  

Driveaway insurance is time-limited, at the end of the chosen policy duration it expires.  Unlike annual insurance it does not automatically renew.   The cover provided to Cazoo customers lasts 7-days, while Cinch only offers 3-days’ cover.

Lee Griffin, CEO and founder of GoCompare Car Insurance commented, “Car showrooms in England have closed their doors for November’s National lockdown.  So, we are likely to see even more people shopping online for a used-car.  From deciding on the right vehicle to arranging finance, the online retailers have made the process convenient and easy for consumers.  Quality inspections, warranties and money-back guarantees have also given consumers the confidence to buy a used car, even if they haven’t physically seen it or ‘kicked the tyres’.    

“However, we’re concerned that customers don’t overlook the fact that the free breakdown cover and driveway insurance provided as part of the deal is short-term and may not provide the full cover required.   The driveaway insurance only lasts a few days, so to stay legal, motorists need to remember to arrange an annual policy to cover their car and driving needs before it expires. 

“The breakdown cover provided with the 90-day warranty only covers your car if it fails during a journey – not if the problem occurs at home.  After restrictions were eased following the first National Covid lockdown, vehicle recovery firms reported a sharp rise in at-home call-outs for breakdowns after weeks of cars not being driven.   So, as we face at least four-weeks of lockdown, drivers need to consider whether they want the peace of mind of home assistance breakdown cover. 

“The free roadside assistance arranged with the purchase of their car only lasts for around three months so they should also diary a note of the expiry date to remind them to review their arrangements.”    

Top tips from GoCompare Car Insurance to get the best car insurance deals:

  • NEVER accept your renewal quote without first checking that the price you are offered is competitive – even if your insurer was the cheapest last year,
  • Give yourself time to review your cover – note the renewal date in your diary and shop around as early as possible before your policy renews to get the best deal,
  • Compare prices AND check the small print. Be sure you’re making like-for-like comparisons and understand all the charges, any penalties, exclusions and terms and conditions you will be required to meet.

For more tips for cheaper car insurance visit:

From more information on home-start breakdown cover see: