It’s easy to get confused by all the terminology that crops up when you’re looking for car insurance. What is comprehensive cover? What is third party, fire and theft insurance? And how do they differ?
What does comprehensive car insurance cover?
Comprehensive car insurance covers everything that a third party, fire and theft policy does, as well as a range of extras. Fire damage, theft and vandalism are therefore included, as well as damage to the other person’s (the third party’s) car.
Who is at fault?
Comprehensive cover also allows you to claim for accidents where you were at fault, and it covers cases where fault cannot be proved - for example if someone hits your parked car then drives off without being seen or leaving their details.
Repair or replacement
Comprehensive insurance also covers the cost of repairing your car, or even replacing it if it is written off.
Many fully comprehensive car insurance policies also cover a range of extras. These can include windscreen repair cover, accidental damage cover, personal injury cover, the provision of a courtesy car while yours is out of action, breakdown cover and legal expenses cover to protect you in the event of a claim. Some insurers include various options as standard, while others may charge extra, so it pays to shop around and check exactly what is being offered.
What is not covered?
A minimum excess will be set by the insurer. This is the amount you will have to fork out yourself before the insurer pays the rest. There will be a compulsory excess stated by the insurance company, and you can add a voluntary excess to this if you choose to, which may lower the insurance premium.
Terms and conditions
The terms and conditions of the insurance are highly likely to exclude claims arising from certain circumstances. If you have no licence or are driving after drinking alcohol or taking drugs, you will not be covered. When a theft or damage occurs and the car was not properly locked, this may mean you cannot claim. If you put in the wrong type of fuel this also might not be covered, although some policies now advertise that they do now include this.
Is comprehensive cover more expensive?
You would be forgiven for assuming this is the case. Surely cover for a wider range of circumstances would cost more?
This is not always true. Comprehensive insurance can actually be around the same price as third party only, or third party, fire and theft policies. In some cases, it can even be cheaper.
The reason for this is perceived or actual risk. It is often high-risk drivers who opt for a third party only or third party, fire and theft policy. Insurers expect more claims from such customers, and therefore raise the prices accordingly.
That said, sometimes third party, fire and theft or third party only insurance will be cheaper than comprehensive. It’s always worth checking prices for all types - and considering whether it’s worth risking having to pay out for repairs or a new car in the event of an accident.
How to cut insurance costs
As mentioned above, adding a voluntary excess can lower your premium. Avoiding low-cost claims can also be worthwhile, as this helps to build your no claims discount. Car insurance does tend to get cheaper as you get older too, especially if you haven’t made many claims in the past. Shopping around is very highly recommended, as well as comparing what different insurers do or don’t cover.