What is comprehensive car insurance?


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By Katie Thompson

on Friday 28 June 2019


Car accident rear collision

If you’re looking for your first vehicle, your car insurance is one of the most important factors to consider.

Depending on many variables such as your age and driving experience, the best options for your budget will differ.

Two common options are fully comprehensive cover (or fully comp) and third-party or third-party fire and theft insurance.

What is fully comprehensive car insurance?

When you opt for fully comprehensive insurance, you typically pay a higher premium for a higher level of cover. This complete cover protects against damage to your own car if you have an accident.

The reason that this policy costs more is that it covers the largest number of scenarios. For example, if the accident was your fault and your car is written off, you can claim for a new car.

Likewise, if the accident involved two drivers and the fault couldn’t be proven, you’d still be covered.

The only thing you’d have to pay is the excess. This can be the minimum amount set by the insurer, plus anything else you’re willing to pay.

What about fully comprehensive van insurance?

The same principles apply for fully comprehensive van insurance – that is, you can claim for damages to your own as well as somebody else’s vehicle.

However, as vans are often driven for commercial use, some insurers may offer additional benefits such as windscreen protection or breakdown cover.

Fully comprehensive car insurance: driving another vehicle

There may be additional perks to choosing to take out the highest level of insurance for your vehicle.

Can I drive someone else's car on my insurance?

It is common belief that having fully comprehensive cover entitles you to drive another person’s car with third-party cover. However, there is a lot more to it than that – for starters, this policy is technically for emergencies only.

Secondly, your insurance provider may ask you to pay more for this benefit, and it is usually exclusive to those over the age of 25.

The difference between comprehensive and collision coverage

The only drawback to fully comprehensive insurance, other than the higher premiums, is that it does not cover collisions.

Fully comprehensive insurance applies to all damage other than collisions, for example vandalism, theft, fire or natural disaster. If you have a collision, such as an incident with another vehicle or a tree, then this will need to be protected by collision coverage.

Is it worth having fully comprehensive insurance on an old car?

If you’re trying to keep the cost of your insurance low, it is advisable to keep to a cheaper car insurance policy, such as third-party or third-party fire and theft.

Often, the value of an old car does not warrant the premiums for a fully comprehensive policy.

In theory, this type of policy could secure a new vehicle for you if your car is written off, but only to the value of your current car.

The difference between comprehensive and third-party insurance

For a cheaper alternative, particularly for new drivers, third-party insurance may be a good place to start. Remember that third-party insurance does not cover as much ground as fully comprehensive, though.

What is third-party insurance?

Third-party insurance is divided into two categories: third-party and third-party fire and theft.

What does third-party insurance cover?

If you have an accident that was your fault, third-party insurance will cover the damage to the other vehicle only.

This is a much cheaper alternative, but you will incur a cost if you do damage your own vehicle. Expensive vehicles should be covered by fully comprehensive insurance if you don’t want to risk a large pay-out.

Third-party fire and theft provides additional cover, and may be a viable go-between if you don’t want to buy fully comprehensive insurance.

In addition to covering damage to other vehicles, it also protects yours against fire and damage from attempted theft, and could even replace your car if it’s stolen.

Is fully comprehensive car insurance worth it?

Your best insurance policy will depend on the value of your car and your perceived level of risk.

Generally speaking, a fully comprehensive policy is ideal for higher value cars, as it will save you cash if your car is significantly damaged.

However, if you’re a first-time driver and you have a lower value car, you should consider a cheaper insurance policy, particularly if you’re under the age of 25.

Read our full car insurance guide and other car insurance-related articles for further details.


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