Misfuelling mishaps could prove costly for motorists, warns Defaqto

27 February 2018

Analysis from Defaqto finds 80% of car insurance policies exclude misfuelling, leaving motorists without cover

  • Every 4 minutes another driver puts the wrong fuel in their car
  • Analysis from Defaqto finds 80% of car insurance policies exclude misfuelling, leaving motorists without cover
  • A two-second mistake can cost thousands to put right
  • Consumers can visit Defaqto’s microsite, Defaqto.com/car, to compare the various features of the latest car insurance policies on the market

Distracted drivers who fill their tank with the wrong fuel could be left facing a hefty repair bill, according to new research from independent financial information business, Defaqto.

Defaqto discovered that 240 of 300 (80%) car insurance policies currently on the market exclude cover for misfuelling, leaving drivers at risk should they make a mistake at the pumps.

A small number of policies, 23 out of 300 (8%), offer misfuelling cover as an optional ‘add-on’ feature.

Motoring Associations estimate that 150,000 drivers make this mistake every year – equivalent to one every four minutes[i]. If the fuel can be removed right away, the damage can be minimised and all it will cost is the price of removal, usually a few hundred pounds.  However, as soon as drivers turn on the ignition and the fuel flows into the engine, they might have to replace the engine entirely. 

To add to the misery, most breakdown companies can remove the fuel for you but will not cover any repairs as a result of the damage caused by misfuelling.

For some drivers, the answer might be found in their accidental damage cover. Defaqto found that 149 out of 300 (50%) car insurance policies currently on the market do provide cover for misfuelling under the accidental damage cover part of the policy, leaving the customer to pay their own excess, and potentially losing any No Claim Discount they have accrued. The level of cover varies from policy to policy, so it pays for drivers to check their policy features carefully.  Not only that, but if the customer realises they’ve put the wrong fuel in before causing any damage, the insurer won’t pay for the tank to be drained and cleaned out, because there hasn’t been any “accidental damage” at that point.

With misfuelling incidents on the rise[ii], one option could be for drivers to buy separate misfuelling cover in addition to their car insurance. 

According to Defaqto, the number of specialist misfuelling insurance products available on the market has nearly doubled from 50 in 2017 to 99 in 2018, showing that there is clearly a demand from drivers. 

Misfuelling insurance can offer cover for repairs, transportation of your car to a location to be fixed (along with passengers) and accommodation costs should you find yourself stranded overnight.  Of the 99 specialist misfuellingpolicies currently on the market, 58 (59%) cover repair costs, 89 (90%) cover the transportation of your car to a location to be fixed, and 31 (31%) cover accommodation costs (some policies cover up to a generous £800). 

It is always worth shopping around to get the right insurance for the driver. On Defaqto’s new microsite Defaqto.com/car, consumers can look for specific features, such as courtesy car cover and lost key cover.

Brian Brown, Head of Insight at Defaqto, comments:

“It is easy to get distracted at the pumps and accidentally put the wrong fuel in, especially if you have recently changed to a new vehicle, or you are a multi-car household with both diesel and unleaded vehicles.  

“The insurance market has responded with an increase in separate misfuelling cover policies, however, it is always worth checking your car insurance policy before you buy to make sure you have the right cover for your needs.”

Here are Defaqto’s top tips in case this happens to you:

1.       If you haven’t started your car, don’t

2.       If you realise your mistake once you have driven, pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so and turn off the ignition

3.       Check your policy to see if misfuelling is covered – it may well be under your accidental damage feature

4.       Check with your breakdown cover provider as they may be able to help you

5.       Remember: if misfuelling happens to you, do not start your car. Call your car insurer/ breakdown provider immediately - a quick response could save you thousands.


Notes to editors

Data taken from the Defaqto Matrix database. Product details correct as of 19.02.18.

Contact information

Redleaf: Vanessa Chance / Simone Fassom

Phone: 020 3757 6870



Defaqto: Katherine Blackler

Phone: 01844 295 457


[i] Source: AA, January 2018

[ii] Source www.dieselhead.co.uk

About Defaqto:

Defaqto is a financial information business, helping financial institutions and consumers make better informed decisions.

Our independent fund and product information helps banks, insurers and fund managers with designing and promoting their propositions. We analyse around 41,000 financial products in the UK. These products change on a daily basis, and our customers need help with keeping track of this.

We have been doing this for over 20 years, and have over 60 analysts spending 400 hours a day monitoring the market. They ensure that the information we provide is accurate and up to date. Our experts have done all the hard work so that financial institutions and consumers can make better informed decisions.

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