UK Car Insurance – Policy Types

UK car insurance policies start as one of the following:

Third Party
Third Party Fire & Theft
Fully Comprehensive

On top of that there are various different options available to you, such as legal expenses insurance (or uninsured loss recovery), breakdown cover, protected no claims bonus, car hire, personal accident and so on.

Price comparison websites such as www.instant-online-insurance.co.uk will get you a huge selection of quotes from different insurance companies whilst only asking you to fill in your details once. They make buying insurance a very simple, relatively painless process, thank goodness for that.

Third Party Car Insurance

Third party insurance gives you protection for any claim made against you, your driver (if someone else was driving) or the person responsible for your car. You must by law (the Road Traffic Act(s) ) have a certain minimum amount of cover. All policies in the UK giving ‘third party cover’ or more, will provide greater protection than the law requires. Whether you just have ‘third party only’; ‘third party fire and theft’ or ‘comprehensive’ you will have this section.

Should you be to blame for causing an accident your insurer will pay for all sums of money that you must pay by law to those victims you have injured or killed. Or whose property you have damaged and so on. This includes any legal costs you have to pay to the victims solicitors and any legal costs your own insurers incur looking after your interests.

In practice what happens is that your insurer will deal with the third party claim and you should not have to worry about it.

This whole question of third party cover becomes very confusing when you are a passenger in your own car and it is being driven by someone else. Provided that the other person is allowed to drive it, then it is the driver who is protected by this section and not you. Your policy wording will list those who are insured to drive the vehicle, for example, named drivers, passengers, employer. Thus if you, as the passenger, were to be injured owing to the negligent driving of the person driving your car, you have the legal right to claim compensation from that person. So your policy here would ‘indemnify’ the driver, not you. You would end up with the money. Unfortunately you cannot claim for damage to your car under this section.

If a thief takes your car and causes an accident (an all too often occurrence!) this section of the policy will protect you, as owner of the car, against any claim for damage or injury caused by the thief. This might seem unfair – after all it was the thief who was to blame! Remember, we are concerned here with the law. The intention is to make sure that innocent victims of otherwise uninsured drivers who are injured or who have some sort of damage caused by an uninsured driver’s negligence should be compensated. How many thieves have the money to pay for that? So it is possible, in practical terms, for the victim to make a claim on your policy. Claims can be very complicated where a thief causes damage or injury.

Third Party Fire & Theft Car Insurance

A ‘third party fire and theft’ policy provides some further protection compared to basic Third Party Insurance. Where your car is stolen, or damaged by theft, or attempted theft, or damaged by fire, then you can pursue a claim. Thus, if someone tried to break into your car and damaged the locks and scratched the door you could claim. But you would of course have to report the attempted theft to the police.

Many insurers now impose an excess for theft claims, often £100. This means you will have to pay the first £100 of each and every claim. In effect you insured yourself for the first £100 of every theft loss. Some insurers will not charge this where your car was in a locked garage.

You have to pay your excess whether the thief is caught or not. Although some people think this is unfair, by sharing the cost of the loss with your insurers, they hope to make you more responsible for your possessions. It is amazing how irresponsible some people are with their possessions. It also helps to reduce slightly their claims outlay and thus helps to keep premiums down.

Fully Comprehensive Car Insurance

With ‘fully comp’ cover, you have all the benefits of third party insurance plus it provides you with ‘all risks’ type of cover for your car. That means if the car is damaged by any cause whatsoever, you can claim, except for those ‘small print’ exclusions. More about those later.

So you know you can claim for any damage to your car caused in an accident.

But did you know you can also claim for damage caused by such things as

– paint spray that wafted over from a careless paint sprayer/decorator working on next doors house;
– paint stripper poured over your car by the local thugs;
– pollution raining down on your car from the local factory (provided you can actually prove that they did this);
– things falling off lorries and hitting your car;
– damaged caused to your tyres and suspension when you drove over a high kerb and so on.

So you can see, if your car is damaged by some fortuitous event, subject to the exclusions, you can claim. Whether you would want to claim, and thus lose your precious no claims discount is discussed in another chapter.