Petrol mix-up can prove costlyInsurers may not cover misfuelling mistakes

10 May 2010

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Cut your motoring costs by paying less at the pumps

One in three car insurers won't cover damage caused by misfuelling, if drivers put petrol into a diesel engine by mistake. Research shows that 30% of car insurance policies exclude accidental damage caused by filling up with the wrong fuel, while more than half of all motorcycle cover excludes misfuelling.

According to the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA), there are 150,000 cases of damage to vehicles caused by misfuelling every year. The vast majority stem from drivers filling up with petrol instead of diesel, because diesel cars have a wider filter neck and narrower unleaded nozzle. Although the majority of comprehensive policies will cover misfuelling, third party, fire and theft policies invariably excludes it. Also, policyholders may not be able to lodge a successful insurance claim if they have driven away after realising their mistake.  

Limiting damage

Motorists who have filled up with the wrong kind of fuel are advised to inform the service station as soon as possible to arrange for the car to be moved away from the pumps. The insurer and a breakdown company should also be contacted. The cost of repairing a vehicle that has been misfuelled is estimated to range from £300 for a fuel drain to more than £5,000 if the car has been driven after the fuelling mistake.

Michael Edwards, a broker with MCE, said: 'Misfuelling often occurs on a Monday morning and Friday evening when drivers are preoccupied thinking about the week ahead or rushing home for the weekend. If the motorist is innocent the insurance industry would normally treat this as an accidental damage claim, under a comprehensive insurance policy.'

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