Different types of car insurance: what is covered and what is cheapest?

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Types of car insurance
Third party
Third party, fire and theft

In the UK there are three main types of car insurance: 'third party', 'third party, fire and theft', and 'comprehensive'.

Each type of policy offers a different level of protection and the best one for you will depend on how much cover you need. Here are the differences and some tips on finding which one is best for you 👇

Car insurance rules

The Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) law means that in the UK, if you are using your car on roads and in public places, it must be insured.

Even if you don't intend to drive your car, unless it is declared off road by making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), you are legally required to insure it.

It’s illegal to insure a car just when you're driving it. It has to be covered at all times. If you're caught driving without insurance you could get a fine of £300 and 6 penalty points. Drivers that are taken to court could end up with an unlimited fine and be disqualified from driving 🚫

If you are the registered keeper, you have a responsibility to ensure the vehicle meets these requirements, and could still be penalised even if you aren't driving the uninsured car.

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You need at least third party insurance to legally drive in the UK

The minimum amount of cover you need to legally drive in the UK is third party insurance.

Third party policies will cover you for any injuries or damage you might cause to other people or their property. For example, if you have a collision with another car that is your fault.

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

Third party, fire and theft policies include cover for other types of damage

As the name suggests, third party, fire and theft gives you slightly more coverage than you would get on the third party policy.

As well as protecting other people's property, it also provides coverage for your vehicle in case it is damaged by fire or stolen.

However, like the third party policies, this type doesn't cover your vehicle in the case that you have an accident that is your fault.

Different car insurance types have different levels of cover
Different car insurance types have different levels of cover

Comprehensive insurance is the highest level of insurance you can get

Comprehensive car insurance offers the highest level of cover you can buy.

It includes everything covered by third party and third party, fire and theft policies.

Most comprehensive car insurance policies also include cover for things like vandalism.

The main differences between comprehensive and third party car insurance

The main difference between the types of car insurance is the protection of your vehicle in the case of an accident. Unlike the other two types of car insurance, comprehensive protects your vehicle.

Price is another key difference between these policies and comprehensive insurance usually works out cheaper.

It sounds a little counter-intuitive, we know! With most products you often pay more when you buy a premium version. Insurance works a bit differently though.

Your policy price is based on how risky you are to insure and the chances of you making a claim. Drivers with third party and third party fire and theft policies are, statistically, more likely to have an accident. So these policies tend to be more expensive than comprehensive insurance.

It’s always worth shopping around to see how much each type of insurance policy will cost you.

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

It’s important to think about whether you can afford the cost of car repairs

When thinking about the best types of car insurance to buy, it’s worth considering if you can afford the cost of repairs.

Comprehensive insurance is a good option if you want to make sure your car is covered for damage - especially if it’s a newer car or has valuable parts that are expensive to repair or replace.

If you can afford the cost of repairs it might be worth considering a third party policy.

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You'll often hear people talk about 'fully comprehensive' insurance. But it doesn't mean anything different to just plain old comprehensive.
Updated on 3rd April 2023