Car insurance - what cover should you buy?

Car insurance can be a big expense, so it's important to find out up front which is the best type of cover for you...

Car insurance - what cover should you buy?

There are three types of long-term car insurance, offering different levels of cover – and varying costs. There’s also short-term insurance, which offers cover for one to 28 days – read our guide to short-term car insurance here.

Third-party insurance

This is the most basic type of cover, and the minimum legal requirement for car insurance. It covers the cost of accident damage suffered by any third party (including your passengers) and the their vehicle and/or property, but it doesn't cover damage to your own vehicle. So, if an accident is your fault, you will have to pay for your own repairs. If it's not your fault, you can claim against the other driver's insurance policy.

Third-party cover is usually taken by owners of older vehicles whose value is less than the cost of any likely repairs. Newly qualified drivers go for third party insurance, too, because they believe it will be the cheapest option.

In fact, because insurers price for risk, and claims statistics show that new drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident than those with more experience, the cost of third-party cover has increased significantly in recent years. It can often be more expensive than more comprehensive policies, so we’d advise getting quotes for more comprehensive cover, too.

Car insurance - what cover should you buy?

Third party, fire and theft insurance

Stepping up from third-party insurance, this type of policy adds cover for your vehicle if it's stolen, damaged or destroyed by fire, but it still won't cover your costs if an accident is your fault.

Fully comprehensive insurance

Three-quarters of UK drivers opt for fully comprehensive motor insurance. As the name implies, it covers pretty much everything, including you, your vehicle, your passengers and property, as well as that of any other party/parties. It will provide cover if your car is stolen, damaged or set on fire, and insure you to drive other vehicles.

The level of cover varies between insurers, though. Not all policies will include legal protection, breakdown and windscreen cover and a courtesy car. Adding these 'perks' onto the policy could easily push the premium up by £50. So scour the small print to see what's included, and only pick the ones you want. 

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