Clearly, there are cost implications, but the highest level of cover is not necessarily the most expensive. To find out more, keep reading.
Do I have to have car insurance?
What car insurance do you need to take out? By law, you must have at least a basic level of insurance in order to drive in the UK. This is third party insurance, and it protects you if someone else claims against you in the event you cause any damage while driving.
Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)
The only exception to the above rule is if you have a vehicle that is not driven, nor kept on a public road. If this applies, you can make a SORN to the DVLA.
Types of insurance
Third party only
As mentioned above, the most basic level of insurance is third party. The law states that you must at least have this in place if the car is driven - or even if it is parked on a public highway. This kind of insurance only covers damage to third parties, not to your own vehicle or possessions. It also excludes cover for theft and fire. It may not even be the cheapest type of cover for you, so it’s best to check prices rather than make any assumptions. It can suit those who don’t have a no claims bonus, live in a very high-risk postcode, or have a car that is not worth very much and would therefore not be too costly to replace.
Third party, fire and theft
Third party, fire and theft covers the above and it also provides protection if your car is damaged by fire or stolen. If your vehicle is damaged in an accident that’s your fault however, you cannot make a claim on a third party, fire and theft policy. Once more, it’s advisable to check which type of insurance will actually be cheaper for you - as there is a chance that fully comprehensive insurance might prove to be your cheapest option.
This is the highest level of car insurance cover you can get. It differs from third party only or third party, fire and theft policies because you can claim for damage to your car even if you are responsible. You can claim for repairs to or replacement of the car following a collision, as well as vandalism and accidental damage.
A range of optional extras can be added to most fully comprehensive car insurance policies - or may even be included as standard. These can include cover for windscreen repair, lost keys, personal injury, a car stereo, a courtesy car while yours is repaired, breakdown cover and legal expenses protection. What insurers include as standard and what they may charge more for varies enormously, so you must compare prices as well as exactly what kind of cover each insurer offers.
What level of cover suits you?
As the law only requires you to have third party insurance, you can opt for this if you so wish. If there is a high risk of fire damage or your car being stolen, you might want to add fire and theft cover too. This might be the case, for example, if you live in an inner city area with high levels of theft or arson.
It may be just as cost effective to take out a fully comprehensive policy, and this will also cover damage to your own car – even when it’s your fault (or if you cannot prove it’s not).
If you have not yet built up a no claims bonus or have a car that isn’t worth a lot of money, then fully comprehensive insurance may prove a more expensive option.
It is wise to get as many quotes as you can, and compare exactly what is covered, before taking out any car insurance policy.