Third party car insurance explained - and how it differs from comprehensive

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Third party cover
Driving abroad

There are three main types of car insurance: 'third party', 'third party, fire and theft', and 'comprehensive'. Third-party cover is the most basic of the three.

People tend to think that third party car insurance is the cheapest because it offers the least amount of cover. But it's a little more complicated than that and it may be more expensive in the long run.

Here's everything you need to know 👇

Insurance rules

Since 1930 (and more recently defined in the 1988 and 1991 updates of the Road Traffic Act), third party insurance has been the minimum amount of cover you need to drive legally in the UK.

Policies are quite limited and usually only cover:

  • Damage to another person's car
  • Damage to another person's property (like if you drove into their garden wall)
  • Medical bills and injury compensation for anyone who's injured in the accident except you

If another driver causes damage to your car, you'll need to make a claim against their insurance (not yours).

You have to have at least third party car insurance to drive legally in the UK. (Because it's the minimum cover most insurers offer, and it's illegal to own a car without insurance unless it's registered as off-road.

You can build up a no claims bonus through third party cover

Most insurers offer a no claims bonus for all insurance types, including third party.

This means you'll build your no claims bonus at the same rate on a third-party policy as you would a more comprehensive one.

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Third party car insurance doesn't cover damage to your car

Third party car insurance doesn't cover you for the following:

  • Damage to your own car for any reason, including fire, crashes and vandalism
  • If your car is stolen
  • Damage to any of your personal possessions
  • Your own medical bills, like for physiotherapy if you're injured in a car accident
  • Driving a car you don't own

You'll need to take out a separate policy if you want to drive a car you don't own.

You can't add a named driver to third party car insurance

Third party policies don't usually include an option to cover named drivers.

This means that if someone else wants to drive your car, they may need to have their own car policy.

Some drivers may already have cover to drive other cars through their own comprehensive insurance. For others, temporary car insurance policies could be more suitable.

Third party insurance can be more expensive than fully comprehensive cover

Third party insurance tends to be more expensive than fully comprehensive car insurance - even though it offers way less protection.

That's because drivers that purchase third party cover are more likely to get into an accident and make a claim.

(As a general rule, car insurance tends to be more expensive for high-risk drivers.)

You also have to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car yourself if you have a third party policy, which can be very expensive.

Third party car insurance may be suitable for lower-value cars

Third party insurance may be a good option if your car isn't worth a lot of money and the cost of fixing it is similar to buying a replacement car altogether.

In some cases, third party insurance may work out cheaper if you haven't got a no claims bonus.

It's worth comparing prices of different types of car policies though, to make sure you get the right level of cover and avoid paying for repairs out of your own pocket.

Third party insurance may be unsuitable if you can't cover repair and replacement costs

Third party insurance might not be the best option if you can't afford to repair or replace your car.

It's worth considering a more comprehensive policy if you rely on your car for everyday travel and commuting.

Third party insurance doesn't include a courtesy car, so you could be left without your main transport option if your car needs to be repaired.

Choose the right type of car insurance to avoid being left out of pocket
Choose the right type of car insurance to avoid being left out of pocket
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Third party insurance covers you to drive in other countries

All third party policies will cover driving abroad but there may be limits on how long you're insured to drive in another country. So it's really important that you check your policy.

You'll need a Green Card from your insurer before travelling too.

A Green Card is an international certificate that proves you have the minimum level of insurance to drive abroad legally. The Green Card system is used by 48 countries including the EU, Switzerland and several counties in the Middle East 🌍

If you're caught without the right insurance or a valid Green Card, you could get fined and have your car impounded.

Cuvva's policies are always comprehensive

Our temporary policies last from one hour to 28 days - but they're always comprehensive.

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Read our full guide about comprehensive car insurance. Learn more
Updated on 3rd April 2023