Third Party Car Insurance Explained | TPO Cover

The minimum level of cover legally required.

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By Cai Bradley
Updated on Wednesday 3 June 2020

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Car insurance is compulsory for all drivers in the UK; there’s no two ways about it.

In order to drive on UK roads, you are legally required to have a car insurance policy in place, with the minimum level of cover available being third party only insurance (TPO).


Despite being one of the most common types of car insurance, not everyone fully understands what third party car insurance covers and many falsely believe that it is always the cheapest policy for all drivers.

This guide to third party cover will introduce exactly what the policy covers, its benefits, and some of the possible drawbacks of holding this basic car insurance policy.

In this guide, we cover:

What is third party car insurance?

What does third party car insurance cover?

The cost of TPO cover

What is the best car insurance policy for you?

What is third party car insurance?

Basic third party only car insurance – or TPO cover – is the minimum level of cover legally required to drive a vehicle on UK roads.

This type of insurance, in short, protects policyholders against the costs associated with third parties – other people, vehicles and property – in the event of a road traffic collision when they were at fault.

Being the minimum level of cover available, most people assume that third party car insurance must also be the cheapest policy. Traditionally, that was true, but market trends have since shifted, meaning that it isn’t necessarily the case anymore.

What does third party insurance cover?

Third party insurance covers policyholders if they damage someone else’s property or cause them injury; this includes both their own passengers, people in another car and pedestrians.

If you are involved in an accident, third party car insurance will typically cover you for:

  • Injury to a person in another vehicle

  • Damage to another person’s vehicle

  • Damage to another person’s property – walls, garages, etc.

  • Injury to a passenger in your vehicle

But there are some significant limitations to third party cover, including the fact that policyholders are not protected against any damage done to their own vehicle after an accident that was their fault. Things not always covered by third party insurance include:

  • Medical or legal costs related to your own injuries

  • Damage to your vehicle after an accident that you caused

  • Car theft

  • Damage to your car caused by fire

  • Windscreen damage

  • Damage to your personal belongings

Of course, as with most car insurance policies, you are able to add optional extras such as personal injury cover, but this will inevitably increase the cost of your protection.

Always read the terms and conditions of your policy before agreeing to it; as tedious as it may be, doing so could save you some serious hardship if ever you need to make a claim, and will help avoid any unwelcome surprises down the line.

The cost of third party car insurance

Despite being the minimum level of cover legally available to drivers in the UK, third party cover is not necessarily the cheapest option for all.

How does that make sense? Well, traditionally, TPO cover was the cheapest policy available as you might expect, but insurers then noticed that more and more high-risk drivers were taking out the policy due to its low cost.

As it became a policy associated with high-risk drivers and newly qualified drivers, the cost of premiums gradually rose until it became one of the most expensive types of car insurance, with many now finding that it is even more costly than fully comprehensive cover.

If you want to take out TPO cover in the UK, it is conceivable that some insurance providers may now assume that you are a high-risk driver.

Remember, though, that the cost of car insurance varies considerably between each individual, so get quotes from as many providers as possible as you will only know which policy best suits you once you have shopped around.

Other types of car insurance

The three main types of car insurance are:

  • Third party only

  • Third party, fire and theft

  • Fully comprehensive

Third party, fire and theft insurance includes the protection offered by TPO insurance, as well as additional cover in the event of your car being stolen or damaged by fire.

Fully comprehensive car insurance, on the other hand, is the most extensive policy available to drivers in the UK, covering costs associated with damage to yourself and your vehicle, as well as the cost of damages and injuries to third parties and their property.

What is the best type of car insurance?

The truth is that the best type of car insurance for you depends almost entirely on your personal situation, as there are various benefits to all policies.

See our full guide to all types of car insurance for simple explanations of all three and a list of the benefits of each.

One of the general benefits of third party car insurance is that it can be a useful policy if the value of your car is low. If you have an older or less valuable car, it would probably cost less to repair or replace in the event of an accident than a luxury vehicle, meaning you could save money in the long-run with TPO cover.

Again, it depends on your situation, so think carefully about what cover you require and find the best and most suitable deal for you.

Cheap third party car insurance in the UK

Looking for the cheapest third party car insurance? Head over to GoCompare to get your quotes from a wide range of providers in the UK within minutes.

It’s important to get car insurance quotes from several providers, but be sure that you do not make your decision based solely on the price alone.

If you’d like more information, feel free to browse our website for all the car insurance resources and guides that you could ask for.

Related articles:

What is Comprehensive Car Insurance?

Car Insurance Extras: Which Ones Are Worth it?

Types of Car Insurance Explained

Third Party Fire and Theft Car Insurance

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