Find out what makes comprehensive car insurance the best of the three levels of cover available to UK motorists.
Comprehensive car insurance is the only type of policy that will pay out for the repair or replacement of your vehicle in the case of an accident that was your fault.
you can also make a claim if your car is damaged, but you don’t know who is at fault, for example when your car is in a public car park or when parked out on the street
third party only (TPO) insurance, being the minimum legal requirement in the UK, will cover damage to other vehicles or property in the case of an accident, but you will have to cover the cost of repairs to your own vehicle
third party, fire and theft (TPFT) cover is similar, but the insurer will pay out if your car is damaged in a fire, stolen or broken into
Many people choose comprehensive cover to protect their investment, as repairing or replacing their vehicle could put them out of pocket. You might want to consider fully comprehensive cover if:
you have a new car
you have a vintage or classic car worth more than £15,000
you need to be able to drive other people’s cars – but usually you’ll only have third party cover, which means you have no cover if you damage the car you’re driving
you want the security of knowing you will not be left without a car following a claim
Even among comprehensive policies, no two insurance policies are equal. Some insurers offer additional extras as part of comprehensive policies, while other extra benefits will be subject to a charge.
When taking out a fully comprehensive policy you will need to compare car insurance features.
Extras might include cover for:
car stereo, speakers or a sat-nav
personal belongings that are in the car
vehicle recovery or accident transport
windscreen damage and loss or theft of keys
A courtesy car means you have something to drive while your car is being repaired, but you might only get it if you use an approved repairer. Comprehensive policies vary on when they will supply courtesy cars, the type of car and for how long.
Check how long you can keep the car – some insurers limit this cover to between up to 21 days. If you have a large car with many seats, you may choose a policy that will provide a similar-sized car if yours is being repaired.
You might find that your cover is affected if you don’t use an approved repairer. For example, some insurers limit the windscreen cover if you don’t use the approved repairer.
You may be able to add extra drivers to your policy without an extra charge. A named driver is an additional person who is able to drive the car under the same policy. The cost will depend on the age and experience of the driver.
Like all car insurance policies, the price of comprehensive insurance is based on many factors including the type of car you drive, your driving experience, no claims bonus, and your history of claims and convictions.
You might assume that comprehensive car insurance costs more than other types of policy, but that’s often not the case.
third party insurance was historically the cheapest type of cover to purchase, but this led to many higher risk drivers taking out third party insurance to keep their costs down
as higher risk drivers make a disproportionately high number of claims on their policies, third party premiums have increased — meaning comprehensive insurance can be the cheaper option, especially for drivers deemed to be a high risk
Even if a comprehensive policy costs you more in premiums, it could provide better value in the long run.
If you opt for a lower level of cover and are involved in an accident, you could have to pay for any repairs to your own car yourself, or even pay to replace it if it’s irreparably damaged.
With comprehensive cover you can claim for damage to your car even if you’re involved in an accident that was nobody's fault, and your insurer will pay you the market value for your car if it’s written off or stolen and not recovered.
As well as adjusting your excess, there are several things you can do to reduce the cost of your car insurance no matter what level of cover you require.
Experienced drivers with a good driving record can still get a good deal on their insurance. Drivers up to 25 years old pay more than those who are older, as claims history shows they are more likely to be involved in an expensive collision.
If you are not an experienced driver you can cut car insurance costs by adding a named driver who is older and more experienced to the policy.
Having a car with is the type of car you drive, with the car’s speed, security features, and value all playing a big part – read our guide to the cheapest cars to insure to find out which cars attract the cheapest insurance premiums.
This will result in a cheaper monthly premium. Before you take out car insurance make sure you can afford any voluntary excess. This excess is in addition to the compulsory excess set by your insurance provider. This is what you would have to pay if you ever have to claim.
Pay for your insurance in one go if you can. Spreading the cost of your car insurance over 12 payments, monthly, may seem cheaper but remember you will be paying interest on top of the amount you pay towards your car insurance premium.
Limiting your miles makes you less of an insurance risk. Simply because you are reducing your risk of having an accident. When you take out your car insurance policy the insurer always asks for an estimate of your maximum annual mileage.
The fewer miles you drive the cheaper your policy will be, as the risk of you being involved in an accident rises with the more time you spend on the road.
Having an alarm or immobiliser is considered a theft deterrent and by deterring car thieves you can reduce your car insurance.
Consider black box, or telematics, insurance, as this can help reduce your car insurance over a period of time.
With black box insurance a small GPS-enabled device is installed in your car. This measures how fast you driver, when you brake, what time of day you drive, how fast you accelerate and how you drive around corners.
If you rarely need to drive, don’t waste money by purchasing annual cover. Instead, consider short-term or temporary car insurance. If you have a car ensure you get a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), so the car does not need insurance.
You can then buy cover when you need to drive, such as if you are returning home from university, or moving home.
If you are needing to insure several cars search for multi-car insurance policies, which offer discounts to households with more than one car. This type of cover is useful in the following circumstances:
if you own more than one car
if you’re a family with more than one driver
if you’re a couple with more than one vehicle