Car Insurance Types & Policy OptionsThere are only three categories or cover levels of car insurance that are available in the UK when taking out a car insurance policy – Third Party only, Third Party Fire and Theft and Comprehensive. These are defined in simple terms below;
Third party - this is the lowest category of cover and the minimum legal level of insurance that you can have. The third party is the basically the other people that are involved in an accident – so this includes your passengers and others not inside your car and damage to other peoples' property including other vehicles. You and your car are not covered regardless if the vehicle was stolen or set on fire.
Third Party, Fire and Theft – this is all of the above, but it also covers the theft, and damage to your vehicle caused by an attempted theft and/or fire.
Comprehensive – this is all of the above, and additionally cover for accidental or malicious damage to your vehicle, glass replacement, personal accident, medical expenses, loss of, or damage to, personal property in your vehicle.
Although the levels of cover seem to differ greatly, you should bear in mind that it doesn’t always mean that selecting just third party cover will give you the cheapest quote, and a comprehensive cover will give you the most expensive. You should always get a comparable quote with both cover options. Many people also find that even though comprehensive cover is not cheaper, it is only a few pounds different from Third Party cover and so for the extra elements of cover that you get, the few pounds are well worth it.
However, it is very important to be aware that for the elements offered under comprehensive cover, these can vary greatly between insurance providers. A good example is glass replacement, as some will say this includes sunroof and all windows, some will say just the windscreen and others will say there is an excess for replacing any glass on the vehicle.
You must take this into account when considering which car insurer to go with as although they may appear cheap when doing a quick comparison, further investigations may reveal restrictions on the policy in order to supply you with that cheap quote.
Other aspects of the policy are the additional cover options that can be included. The usual additions are below;
Protection for your no-claims bonus – This is likely to increase your premium by a small amount, but many feel that this is well worth the extra as it is insignificant when compared against the potential loss of a 90% discount on a premium of several hundred pounds if you do need to make a claim at any point. This is another thing to ensure you check on the small print of the policy as different insurers will interpret what is ‘protected’ if you do claim and the number of times in a 12 month period that you can claim before the no-claims bonus is lost.
Legal cover – On some policies legal cover will be included, but on most it will be an additional cost and is an option many consider vital. It generally covers you for any legal battles that you could get involved in if you were in an accident. Once again, different insurers offer differing amounts and some even offer it in a tiered fashion, so the higher legal cover value you want, the more you pay.
Courtesy Car – This option is usually included in most comprehensive cover policies, so if you cannot use your car as a result of an accident, you are still able to get about by using a courtesy car. If this is not included, be very conscious of how much this feature is going to cost you and compare it to your own personal needs. If you were unable to use your car for a few days, would this be unacceptable bearing in mind the cost of alternative transportation? If not, it’s probably not worth the additional cost, however, if you rely heavily on using your car, before adding to your policy, you should bear in mind that most standard garages will be able to offer you a courtesy car for next to nothing if you are getting your car repaired at their garage. But remember the cost could be much higher if your repairs need to be done in a manufacturers approved garage. In the end its personal choice as to whether to take on the risk of including this or not.
Breakdown Cover – Most insurers will try to add this onto your policy as an additional extra, but this is something that we have always found to be the least cost effective option when purchasing with your car insurance policy. You can go online at any time and get separate quotes for breakdown cover without being bound to your insurance, and you can go directly to the breakdown companies and do a similar comparison on the features that they offer and their cost. You can often get cover for all cars in your household instead of separate contracts with each car, and this usually comes with a good discount. So unless breakdown cover is included as a ‘free’ option, think carefully before taking it up as part of your policy.