UK drivers have been warned they face unexpected bills on their car insurance if they do not check the small print for “loopholes”.

Consumer website Which? analysed 49 policies from insurers, said it had found some gaps in cover for personal belongings and “surprising” exclusions for courtesy cars.

Nearly all policies it looked at contain some personal belongings cover – which helps people repair or replace items damaged in or stolen from a car.

However, Which? found not all belongings are included, with a handful protecting cash, documents and credit cards. Four in 10 (40%) policies with personal possessions cover exclude mobile phones.

Which? also found that only about a quarter (24%) of policies will pay for someone to recover illegal clamping or towing fees, while just three in 10 (31%) will help deal with legal costs related to a car’s licence plate being cloned.

It also found the “rarest” feature it looked at is guaranteed cover for driving other cars. In more than a third (37%) of policies, it applies only in emergencies, according to its research.

Which? urge UK drivers to check small print of car insurance

Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “Our research shows that motorists risk facing hefty bills when things go wrong as a large number of policies don’t cover incidents or possessions you might expect. With the cost of living biting, this means car problems could be disastrous for those on low incomes, or with limited savings.

“We would urge drivers to read the small print. If you’re comparing two similarly priced policies, the bills you can rack up by falling foul of car insurance loopholes could dwarf the extra amount you would pay for the more expensive cover.

“Anyone who’s unhappy with how their insurer has handled a claim should always shop around when it’s time to renew. You could save hundreds of pounds by switching insurers, while getting the right cover to suit your needs.”

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said: “Every day motor insurers pay £22 million in claims to private motor insurance customers, with 99% of all claims paid.

“Insurers remain committed to ensuring value-for-money cover and want drivers to understand exactly what they are covered for. We urge motorists to check the scope of cover provided and speak to their motor insurer if unclear.”