What actually counts as "commuting" for car insurance?

I live in rural north Wales and work from home full time. Very rarely, max twice a year, I may travel to our head office in Birmingham. If so, I drive to Shrewsbury and take a train the rest of the way. 

Does that mean that twice a year I actually am commuting by car, or does it need to be more regular than that? My policy only covers me for social, domestic and pleasure and specifically excludes use for commuting.
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  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,271
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    Interesting question.  Likely only the insurance company will be able to answer definitively.  

    That said I wonder what they'd make of you travelling to Shrewsbury, doing your weekly shop (so domestic use) and then hopping on the train?  Would that be considered different from what many of us do - i.e. commute to work and do some shopping on the way home?
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • bigpat
    bigpat Posts: 328
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    Brie said:
    Interesting question.  Likely only the insurance company will be able to answer definitively.  

    That said I wonder what they'd make of you travelling to Shrewsbury, doing your weekly shop (so domestic use) and then hopping on the train?  Would that be considered different from what many of us do - i.e. commute to work and do some shopping on the way home?
    Yeah, that's an interesting take on it. I hadn't considered that. Clearly I'm "allowed" to drive to Shrewsbury if I want, and then the rest of my day should be of no concern to my insurer. I suppose it comes down to what I can legitimately say is the purpose of that journey.

    I can't see that doing that twice a year (or maybe only once) makes me more of a risk than using my car to drive to the local supermarket in Wales as I do anyway.
  • Ozzig
    Ozzig Posts: 299
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    If you were stopped and asked where you were going is the easy way to look at it.
    "On my way to work" = commuting. 
    "On the way to the shops" = not commuting (unless you work at the shops :) )


  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 9,119
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    Ozzig said:
    If you were stopped and asked where you were going is the easy way to look at it.
    "On my way to work" = commuting. 
    "On the way to the shops" = not commuting (unless you work at the shops :) )


    No, its more explicit than just "way to work"... Direct Line's definition is:

    Commuting is driving to and from a permanent place of work, for either part of the journey, or for the whole journey. This includes driving to and from a car park, railway station or bus stop as part of your journey to and from a permanent place of work.

    If you are driving to another office or to a site or a client that isn't your permanent place of work you are still on the way to work but don't meet the definition and therefore you need Business Use not Commuting.

    Personally, the price difference between Commuting and Business tends to be next to nil and for the sake of an argument or an unexpected need to go to a different office or such I've always added Business rather than Commuting. 
  • Grumpy_chap
    Grumpy_chap Posts: 14,395
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    bigpat said:
    I live in rural north Wales and work from home full time. Very rarely, max twice a year, I may travel to our head office in Birmingham. If so, I drive to Shrewsbury and take a train the rest of the way. 

    Does that mean that twice a year I actually am commuting by car, or does it need to be more regular than that? My policy only covers me for social, domestic and pleasure and specifically excludes use for commuting.
    I would say that the two trips to Shrewsbury / Birmingham by train are Business Use and not Commuting.

    DGG seems to concur and they have the industry specific knowledge that I don't.
  • I disagree and think is is commuting.

    Business use is usually driving whilst working or during the hours of work.

    Commuting is driving before and/or after the hours of work

    That was always my understanding -- happy to be wrong though
  • born_again
    born_again Posts: 13,600
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    Do a quote With & without & see what the difference is.

    Personally I would say twice a year is not commuting.
    Life in the slow lane
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 9,119
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    That was always my understanding -- happy to be wrong though
    Ultimately, read the definition in your policy book, the one above from DL is the standard which requires it to be your permanent place of work but others may be more liberal. 
  • 400ixl
    400ixl Posts: 2,634
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    Does your contract say that your home is your permanent place of work, or does it have a company location and you have a hybrid working arrangement with your employer.

    If your home address is the permanent place of work then going to the Head Office is business travel. If the Head Office is your permanent place of work then it is commuting.

    SD&P cover is designed for people not commuting, and therefore less likely to be using the roads at peak times when the risk is deemed higher.

    Commuting is then for people who only every drive to a single location for work which is classed as their permanent place of work.

    Business then has two types of cover, those who need to go to different locations and for those who sell across different locations. The former doesn't usually have much additional cost, the latter can.

    Sounds like the OP either needs commuting or business (multiple locations) depending on what their contract says. Either way it is at least commuting.

    Not worth the risk of not having the cover you need.
  • Aretnap
    Aretnap Posts: 5,137
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    Actually the definition of commuting is a bit of a red herring. The first question you need to ask is simply whether the purpose of your journey is

    (a) social
    (b) domestic
    (c) pleasure or
    (d) something else

    If it's something else then it won't be covered by a social, domestic and pleasure only policy.

    Having established that it's not covered by your policy, the question then arises of what cover you actually need, and I agree that as head office is not your usual place of work by any stretch of the imagination, it sounds more like business use than commuting. Certainly if you claim travelling expenses for the journey (or if you could claim them if you could be bothered) then it's business use rather than commuting.
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