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Home > Car Insurance

Car Insurance


Car insurance is the second most popular insurance among UK households. Care must be taken to determine the level of coverage you need, as well find ways to reduce the cost of this inevitable expenditure.

Why car insurance is required

teen driverThe Road Traffic Act of 1988 mandated that motorists must be insured unless they make a £500,000 deposit with the Accountant General of the Supreme Court against their liability for injuries to others and their property. Driving without car insurance on the public highway or public place is an illegal offence which may be punishable by fines and disqualification from driving.

Types of car insurance

There are three types of car insurance policies available, each with increasing levels of coverage. Before deciding on a specific policy, you should not only take into account your past and present driving needs, but also your future requirements. The available policies are:

  1. Third party only

    This type of insurance is the minimum coverage a motorist can have. Third party car insurance, as the name suggests, only covers damage done to another person or their property in an accident. It does not cover any damage or injury to you or your car.

  2. Third party fire and theft

    This type of coverage includes third party coverage, but also covers property stolen, damaged, or destroyed by fire.

  3. Comprehensive

    Comprehensive coverage extends third party and fire and theft insurance to damage to your own car if it is involved in an accident.

Car insurance policy components

Even though two drivers may have the same type of car insurance, the coverage their policy affords them may vary considerably. When selecting a policy, you should always plan for the worst and make sure your policy has broad coverage. Without sufficient coverage, you may face liabilities that you are unable to afford. Available components include:

No-Claims Discount (NCD)

You become eligible for no-claims discount on your insurance plan if you drive for one year without making a claim. The discount amount varies between insurers, but the discount generally ranges from 20-60%. You can also reach higher discounts if you have consecutive years without a claim. However, if you make a claim, this will almost always invalidate any no-claims discount you have built up.

Protected No-Claims

Many insurers allow you the option of paying extra for no-claims discount protection. Ordinarily, protected no-claims will increase your premium by up to 10-20%, so it is important that you weigh the costs to decide whether it is worth including in your policy. Although, according to MoneySuperMarket, those who protect their no-claims discount may be worse off on average.

Personal Accident

This element covers you if you’re injured while travelling in or getting out of your automobile. Depending on your policy, the benefit will pay out if the accident results in a fatality, loss of sight, or loss of a limb, within three months of the accident.

Damage to Your Car

This element extends accident damage coverage to your vehicle and any accessories within your car. Insurers will often suggest using their pre-approved repair shops, and if you choose your own, they may only pay the equivalent costs.

Fire and Theft

This component provides coverage if your car is lost or damaged due to successful or attempted theft, fire, lightening or an explosion. This will cover the vehicle and any accessories within the car, however, insurers will not cover any damage resulting from your own negligence.

Personal Belongings

This element of coverage varies based on your insurer. Some insurers will replace your items with new ones, although, the majority of them will take into account depreciation due to wear and tear, and replace it with a comparable version of the item.

Medical Expenses

Depending on your insurer and policy, medical expenses arising from an accident may be covered. Examples include dental work or physical therapy.

Courtesy Car

Depending on your insurer and policy, you will often be allocated a replacement car while your car is being repaired by an automobile shop your insurer approves. Some insurers will only provide a courtesy car if your car is damaged, but not if it is stolen, and vice-versa.

Driving Other Cars

Most insurers and policies allow the policyholder to drive other cars with third-party coverage, but some insurers limit this coverage to only emergency situations.

Common exclusions

We all know expensive car repairs can be. If the insurer does not cover the cost, your wallet may take a beating. Fortunately, as long as you are aware of the common exclusions many car insurers providers use, you should not run into any problems during the claims process. These exclusions include:

  • Driving without a valid and current license, or with a license that is not appropriate for the type of vehicle you are driving.
  • Any damage that is the direct or indirect result of war or terrorism.
  • If the damage occurred while the car was being driven by any person not listed in the certificate of insurance as entitled to drive.
  • If your car is taken without your permission by any member of your household or family, coverage may be excluded. However, if you report the theft to the police and take the individual to court, you may be covered.
  • Certain ‘acts of god’, such as earthquakes and tornadoes may exclude coverage.

This is just a list of common exclusions and is by no means comprehensive. You should always double-check with your policy provider, as many insurers often have their own exclusions that you may not be aware of.

Reducing your car insurance premium

Let’s face it, car insurance is not cheap, and it can always help to save a pound here and there. Luckily, there are many easy ways to save on your car insurance premium that will not affect your coverage:

  • Installing a Thatcham approved alarm or immobiliser.
  • Installing a tracking device in your vehicle.
  • Adding your spouse to your policy.
  • Signing up to multiple insurance plans with the same provider.
  • Parking your car in a garage.

Making a claim

Claiming on your car insurance policy is a very delicate process. If you are making a claim, you may be emotionally and physically compromised. Add to that the likelihood of having to deal with the police, and you arrive at a very stressful and volatile situation. Despite this, as long as follow a few simple strategies, the claims process should be manageable and ultimately successful.

  1. During the accident or theft

    The first step in a successful claims process begins with your actions immediately following the accident. As soon as the accident happens, regardless of the severity, you should always call the police. They will be able to corroborate any of your claims, should your claim ever be taken to court.

    While you wait for the police to come, you should take down every possible detail about the accident or theft that you can think of. You might be surprised at how quickly you may forget important details that your insurer will surely ask you for.

  2. After the accident or theft

    It is imperative that you get into contact with your insurer as soon as possible to make a claim. Many providers have limits on how long they will honour a claim after the accident or theft has occurred. This will also ensure that you can convey the details to your insurer as comprehensively as possible, as they will be fresh in your mind.

    At this stage, your insurer will ask you to complete a claim form, and ask you to enclose any supporting evidence you may possess. You should keep meticulous records of any forms you provide or receive, as well as any correspondence you have with your insurer. This will help you in the event of a claims dispute.

    Don’t expect your insurer to process your claim overnight, these things can take time. During this waiting period, do not attempt to fix any damage to your car yourself, as this could invalidate any coverage your claim may provide.

If your claim is rejected and you believe your insurer acted unreasonably, you should send them a letter pleading your case. If they do not act on your request, you may have recourse with the Financial Ombudsmen Service, who has the legal power to force your insurer to provide you coverage.

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