The information and details in the small print do vary from insurer to insurer so here I will try and generalize it as most companies are similar in their policies.
Car insurance also referred to as auto insurance differs from most types of other cover in the respect that's its compulsory in the majority of countries. If you drive a car or even if your car is parked on any public road then by law you have to be insured. This however does not apply to private land owned by yourself or another party. There is a misconception to what actually constitutes private land and to be crystal clear on how this affects you check your own insurance details or if you need a policy.
Areas like parks, waste land, car parks, pavements and country lanes, shopping centres and football fields are not considered private and if caught prosecution is most likely. Private would be classified as owned land that is not used by the public. For example if there is a public footpath going through a private estate then this is not private land and you would almost certainly need insurance or liable to face prosecution. Even if the land you were driving on was private and not open to the public you would still require permission from the land owner or again prosecution is possible. Now let's say for arguments sake that you yourself own private land that is not open to the public in any way and your riding your quad up and down the driveway (nice for some) You clearly have it stated on one of those big wooden signs ‘PRIVATE PROPERTY ‘and maybe to add extra safeguard next to this you have another reading ‘BEWARE LION LOOSE' okay a little over the top but you never know with some folk! Now the only pedestrians that are allowed to enter with your permission are the postman and milkman. Do you need insurance? The answer here is no you don't even though there is a good argument that you should because you have technically made it accessible to members of the public.
At the moment in the UK there is a strong push to get this amended where by any vehicle even though only parked and not been driven on private land should have insurance. Basically the police would have the same powers as they do now which would mean if you don't have car insurance then they could possibly have your vehicle removed from your property and crushed. I personally find this totally preposterous and yet again more money for the car insurance business. Statistically the risk of injury to persons or damage to property by vehicles parked up is minuscule even for cars that are been drove on private land is tiny. Car insurance companies would be in a win win situation. Loads of cash coming in and a tiny amount going out on claims, lovely! I genuinely don't have a problem with having to have car insurance on private land if the vehicle is been driven even on the moon for that matter. What about the classic car lover who's been working on his pride and joy for the last 6 months. The motor's parked in his garage and still probably requires a further 12 months before he lets it out for the world to see. Yes the car drives and is fully functional but not in a million years his he going to be seen in it on the road until it's restored to how it was 50 years ago. Please can somebody clarify in plain English terminology why this classic needs car insurance? Doesn't it make you feel like screaming!
Most people have borrowed there friends or a relatives car for the day or perhaps a few hours while theirs is been serviced or the MOT is due. Just like they have probably borrowed yours for the same reasons, we all do from time to time. As long as both parties have insurance then we are entitled to do this right? This is not necessarily true today as many car insurers do not permit it unless you are named as one of the drivers in the policy for that vehicle. More and more people are been prosecuted after been stopped by the police for driving a vehicle that they are not insured to do so. There is no intent here they legitimately thought they were actually covered to drive a friends car, after all both had full insurance. The majority of cases where this happens, the courts are usually somewhat more lenient but nevertheless a fine is usually issued as it is seen as your responsibility to know and understand your car insurance policy. There also must be police officer's that except a genuine mistake has been made but by law they cannot allow you to continue on your journey, simply because you are driving without insurance.
In addition to mistakes been made is this other scenario where you both have full car insurance and are permitted to drive a different vehicle. So you're having a nice steady drive and accidently have a bump or at worse total your best mate's car or vice-versa. In nearly all cases when driving somebody else's car you are only covered for third party even though you both have full insurance. So next time your mate pesters you for a quick spin of your Porsche, if you're lucky enough to own one, best bet would politely to say no and explain the situation because if it was wrote off you wouldn't get a single penny back! What a costly error and distressing position to put yourself in. Like everything with insurance, to get extra cover means extra cost on your premium.