Motor insurers yesterday pledged not to charge extra premiums for volunteers who want to use their cars to help their local communities.
Fifty-four insurance brands, representing 85 per cent of the motor insurance market, have signed up to the commitment, according to the Association of British Insurers.
Volunteers currently have to tell insurers about their volunteer driving because some companies do not accept it as "social driving" and charge more.
This was one of the concerns highlighted in Unshackling Good Neighbours, the recent report by Lord Hodgson’s Big Society Deregulation Taskforce, which was set up to investigate ways of preventing bureaucracy from stifling charities.
The taskforce found that the extra cost and associated burdensome form-filling deterred volunteers from using their cars for journeys such as taking old and sick people to hospital or on day trips.
The commitment will apply to private car insurance policies for policyholders' own vehicles.
The Association of British Insurers said in a statement: "Insurers will make all the necessary information publicly available so that volunteers can be fully covered to take part in community activities".
Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, said: "We’ve made it very clear that we want to tackle the obstacles that get in the way of people getting involved as volunteers. That’s why we commissioned Lord Hodgson’s red tape taskforce.
"This was one of the recommendations of the report and I am delighted the insurance industry has responded so positively to that challenge – making it easier for people to do more for their communities."
Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of Volunteering England, said: "This is a great step forward in helping communities meet their own transport needs. The cost of insurance can be a real barrier for volunteer drivers, so I’m delighted that the industry has made a clear commitment to support them."
The volunteering charity WRVS has more than 10,000 volunteers who use their cars to help older people.
Alastair McDougall, executive director for people at WRVS, said: "This marks real progress. Overcoming isolation is one of the targets to help older people, and that often involves driving."