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Test drives

Published: 7:33PM Wednesday July 29, 2009 Source: Fair Go

Reporter Kevin Milne 

An Auckland couple selling their car were shocked when the potential buyer, who they didn't know, drove off in the car. The thief and the car have not been seen since. The potential buyer had asked them if he could check out the clutch, which involves turning on the ignition, putting the car in gear and slowly letting out the clutch. But instead, he took off. The couple informed the police immediately and later contacted their insurer, Pioneer Insurance.

Among the reasons Pioneer turned down the claim was they maintained the couple had been reckless letting an unknown potential buyer into their car, which had the ignition keys in it, without one of them getting in as well.

The couple disagree and so does Fair Go. We sought the opinion of other insurance companies. The Insurance Council told us that their members would pay out in such a situation considering the owners had not been reckless, the buyer had acted in a fraudulent way.

This raises issues in our mind about whether your car is insured if you let a potential buyer take it for a drive. The Insurance Council tells us that most of its members say you should always accompany a stranger on a test drive. But some insurance companies are happy you let them drive on their own as long as you establish their identity before they leave...take notes from their drivers licence etc.

And are you insured, if you take someone else's car on a test drive. The Insurance Council tells us that it is always the car that's insured not the driver. So if you want to be certain that the car you are test driving is insured, you would need to sight
the policy before you leave.

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