Comprehensive or Third Party — Which Type of Car Insurance Do You Need?

If you’re driving a car (or even keeping it parked on the road) you’re legally obliged to insure it. Only a car that’s being kept on private property and not driven doesn’t need insurance, though then you’ll need to fill out a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Failure to insure your car will result in a fine, and you could be disqualified from driving.

The most common type of vehicle insurance is comprehensive car cover (sometimes known as “fully comprehensive”). This will in most cases cover an insurance claim for damage and injury involving both you and your vehicle and any third party involved. It will also cover accidental damage to your car, fire, theft and vandalism, and any items stolen from or damaged in the vehicle.

There are a few things not covered by comprehensive insurance. Typically, accidents while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or without a driving licence aren’t covered, and nor is theft that results from your carelessness. If you leave your car unlocked, for instance, the loss adjuster will refuse your claim. You may also not be covered if you’re driving another car, although this is something you’ll need to check on your policy.

Do You Need Comprehensive Cover?

If you’re going to be driving regularly, comprehensive cover is definitely advisable, but it isn’t actually compulsory. You can legally drive with third party car insurance, which covers damage or injury you cause to other people and their property, but not yourself. It also doesn’t cover an insurance claim for theft or damage to your car, though you can take out an intermediate type of policy known as third party, fire and theft.

So why would you choose this? Well, if you only very occasionally drive your car, it may be worth going for this restricted but cheaper cover. Alternatively, your car may have a low market value, or you may be able to get it repaired cheaply. In these cases, comprehensive insurance could actually cost more than repairing or writing off your vehicle at your own expense.

As might be expected, third party cover is traditionally cheaper than comprehensive — but there’s a problem. Third party is often chosen by high-risk drivers, such as those who have just passed their test, so that insurance companies find themselves paying out more frequently, which in turn pushes up the cost. The gap in price between comprehensive and third party is closing.

So which should you choose? If you’re a frequent driver or have a high-value car, then comprehensive is a no-brainer. Otherwise, Allied Claims would advise you to get quotes for both options and compare them — or, even better, go through an insurance broker who could make your options clear.