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Car insurance extras and add-ons explained

Learn about all the extras available with your car insurance policy, from legal cover to no claims bonus protection
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Car insurance extras and add-ons explained

Insurers offer lots of different add-ons and optional extras to make your insurance policy suit your needs, but what do all the terms mean and what’s included?

The extras on offer differ with each insurer and each policy so it's important to carefully read policy documents or the insurer’s terms and conditions before committing to a policy. However, you can get a better idea of the general options offered by insurers below.

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Car insurance extras and add-ons explained

Breakdown cover

The level of breakdown cover will vary and its provider will differ depending on which insurer you take a policy with. Even the most basic breakdown policies include cover for roadside repairs or the option for your car to be towed to a garage. Check each insurer’s terms and conditions to find out more about the breakdown cover included and also check to see if your car is eligible – some standard policies will not cover cars over 10 years old, for example.

Windscreen cover

All comprehensive policies cover damage to the windscreen, just as they do with any other part of the car. However, because windscreen damage is common and relatively cheap to repair, it isn’t always economical to claim on an insurance policy just for windscreen damage — you would have to pay your full excess and as this would show as a claim on your records you may find it harder to find cheap car insurance in the future. Windscreen cover effectively provides a separate insurance policy for your windscreen. The excess is usually lower and some insurers will even repair damage to your windscreen without charging you anything (this is usually the case if you seek a repair for a chip or small crack before the damage worsens).

Legal cover, also known as motor legal protection, provides a set amount to cover ‘uninsured losses’ when you’re pursuing a car insurance claim or someone else has brought a claim against you. Motor legal protection provides legal expenses up to a set amount (up to £50,000 or £100,000 depending on the insurer) and can help you to recover costs such as your insurance excess, transport fees, loss of earnings, and compensation for injuries.

Driving abroad

All UK insurance policies cover you to drive in the EU, but this just provides third party cover (so your insurer will pay for damage to other vehicles and property but you will be liable for any repair costs to your own car). Driving abroad cover allows you to extend your level of insurance (comprehensive, for example) to your car while you’re driving abroad. This usually lasts for up to 30 days, but it’s important to check the policy’s terms and conditions as all policies differ.

Courtesy car

Courtesy car cover will provide you with a temporary car while yours is off the road. The courtesy car provided will usually be in the same vehicle class as yours — so it’s unlikely you’ll be provided with a Range Rover while your Mini’s in for repairs. It’s important to check in the policy documents whether the courtesy car is guaranteed or whether it’s ‘subject to availability’. It’s also worth checking the duration of the courtesy car cover as some will only provide a car for a limited period even if your car takes longer to repair. Bear in mind that some insurers will only provide you with a courtesy car if your car goes in for repair after a claim, and require you to upgrade to hire car cover if your car is a total loss (written off or stolen).

Driving other cars

Driving other cars (DOC) cover will provide third party cover for the main driver to drive a car not listed on the policy. It will not cover you to drive another car owned by you (you need to take out an insurance policy for each car you own). It’s intended to be used to drive other cars in emergencies or only occasionally — if you intend to drive another car regularly you should take out a full insurance policy or get added as a named driver by the car’s owner.

Protected no claims bonus

You can usually choose to add no claims bonus or no claims discount protection to your car insurance policy once you have built up a discount over 4 or 5 years. This extra will allow you to keep some or all of your no claims discount even if you make a claim on your insurance. No claims bonuses can provide discounts of up to 80% on your insurance, so protecting your no claims bonus could help to keep your premiums lower in the future.

Audio system cover

If your policy includes audio system cover it will state the amount you can claim for any theft or damage of audio systems. If your in-car audio system is not the manufacturer-fitted standard, you should disclose this to your insurer to make sure you’re covered.

Contents cover

Most comprehensive car insurance policies come with some level of contents cover included — this provides a set amount to replace the contents of the car if they are stolen or damaged. You’re usually not covered for theft if the items stolen were kept in plain sight, so remember to lock your valuables in the boot or glove compartment.

Personal accident cover

Some policies include a level of personal accident insurance, but this can vary significantly so it's important to check the policy documents. Many insurers offer a greater level of personal accident insurance as an add-on. This cover provides compensation, often up to £100,000, for serious injuries sustained in the case of an accident. The most comprehensive policies will cover every passenger in the car, and some even cover you as a passenger in another person's vehicle.

Replacement key cover

Replacement car key insurance is similar to windscreen cover in that it is separate from your main car insurance policy, and in many cases any claims won't affect your no claims bonus. Most replacement key cover claims do not require you to pay an excess, but it's important to check with your insurer as policies can differ. Replacement key cover is designed to reimburse you up to a set amount (often a maximum of £1500) for replacing your keys or locks in the case of lost, stolen or broken keys. Some policies may even cover car hire charges and transportation of your car if you are stranded away from home without your car key.

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See a range of car insurance quotes in just a few minutes when you compare with Uswitch