Comprehensive Car Insurance Explained

What does fully comprehensive car insurance mean? Unlike third party or third party fire and theft (TPFT), comprehensive insurance offers greater personal coverage.

The definition of fully comprehensive car insurance is the first party (the individual who purchases the car insurance) is covered for accident and medical expenses to a limit stated by the provider, and the first party’s vehicle is also covered for accidental or malicious damage.

Personal property inside the vehicle may also be covered up to a stated limit, although this could be an optional extra.

As with other insurance types, the third party (the person who may claim against you due to an accident that was your fault) is also covered along with their vehicle and personal property.

What does comprehensive car insurance cover

Gone are the days where car insurance policies were simple and almost identical for a like-for-like policy. Due to the insurance providers fierce competition that ensues due to policyholders typically opting for the cheapest insurance quote, providers find methods to offer cheap comprehensive insurance in order to remain competitive. These methods often involve optional extras that previously came as standard on a fully-comp policy.

Fully comprehensive car insurance checklist

Before agreeing to a comprehensive car insurance policy, always read the small print initially or ask the sales staff to ensure you are covered on any aspects you deem essential.

The table checklist below provides information for standard protection coverage within comprehensive insurance and what is now typically considered optional extras.

DescriptionProtected or optional extra
Driver of vehicle (first party)Protected
Medical expenses (to a stated limit)Protected or optional extra to extend cover
Vehicle (first party)Protected
Glass replacementProtected or optional extra
Personal property in vehicle (to a stated limit)Protected or optional extra
Passengers (first party)Protected
Other person (third party)Protected
Other Person's Vehicle (third party)Protected
Other Person's Property (third party)Protected
Passengers (third party)Protected
Courtesy carProtected or optional extra
Legal coverProtected or optional extra
Breakdown coverProtected or optional extra
No claims discount protectionProtected or optional extra
Wrong fuel coverProtected or optional extra
Driving abroadProtected or optional extra
Drive any carProtected or optional extra

As can be seen in the table, car insurance providers often strip a comprehensive policy down to its bare minimum so to appear highly competitive. If you regard many of the optional extras as essential, this can easily double the price of the original quote.

Difference between third party and comprehensive

The difference between third party and comprehensive car insurance are for the first party (you). Coverage for the third party (person claiming against you) remains the same on all car insurance types. The table below details the basic differences between third party and fully comprehensive car insurance.

DescriptionComprehensiveThird party
Driver of vehicle (first party)ProtectedNot protected
Medical expenses (to a stated limit)ProtectedNot protected
Vehicle (first party)ProtectedNot protected
Glass replacementProtected *Not protected
Personal property in vehicle (to a stated limit)Protected *Not protected
Passengers (first party)ProtectedProtected
FireProtectedNot protected
TheftProtectedNot protected
Other person (third party)ProtectedProtected
Other Person's Vehicle (third party)ProtectedProtected
Other Person's Property (third party)ProtectedProtected
Passengers (third party)ProtectedProtected

* Usually covered although may be an optional extra.

Is comprehensive insurance worth it

Whether comprehensive insurance is worth it or not depends if your vehicle is of high value or if you can afford to replace it in the event that it is written off as third party or third party fire and theft will not cover your vehicle. Fully comprehensive car insurance offers other benefits such as limited medical expenses if involved in an accident in your vehicle, plus many other optional extras that are not typically available on third party fire and theft.

Comprehensive car insurance drive any car

The vast majority of comprehensive car insurance policies used to allow the policyholder to drive any car on a third party coverage basis. With insurance providers cutting costs to appear competitive, the ability to drive any car on comprehensive insurance is now often considered an optional extra requiring greater expense for the policyholder.

Before attempting to drive another vehicle other than the vehicle you are insured for, check the motor insurance documents or speak to an advisor. Policyholder that are permitted to drive other cars are only insured on a third party basis and must be at least 25 years of age and have the car owner’s permission.

Comprehensive car insurance excess

What is comprehensive car insurance excess? Comprehensive car insurance excess is the amount you must pay in the event a claim by a third party makes against you. An excess amount is compulsory on third party fire and theft and comprehensive insurance policies and is usually around £100 or so. You can opt to increase the excess upon signing up for an insurance policy and as a result this should reduce the overall cost of your policy. Make sure however that you can afford to pay the excess if you have an accident that is your fault or you need to make a claim of some sort.

Finding cheap fully comprehensive car insurance

Below is advice on finding cheap third party car insurance quotes.

  • Choosing your vehicle
    The biggest difference to the amount your car insurance costs is to do with the type of vehicle you wish to insure. Car insurance groups range from 1 to 50. Insurance group 1 is the cheapest available. See best cars for young and new drivers for a list of the cheapest cars to insure.
  • Obtain quotes on all insurance
    A popular misconception is that third party or third party fire and theft is the cheapest insurance. The same provider offering third party only may offer fully comprehensive insurance cheaper. Obtain quotes on all types of insurance.
  • Keep mileage to a down
    Insurance companies are of the opinion that the fewer miles you do, the less likely you are to have an accident. Keep to a low mileage and state this in your quote to reduce costs.
  • Additional driver
    If possible, add an additional experienced driver such as a parent to your comprehensive policy as this can reduce policy quotation price.
  • Vehicle modifications
    Vehicle modifications such as non-factory wheels or body work modifications can increase the desirability of your car to thieves and can result in higher insurance premium.
  • Increase voluntary excess
    A compulsory insurance excess of around £100 is standard on all comprehensive car insurances. This can be increased depending on the vehicle. Increasing this to its maximum should reduce the quote price. Ensure you can afford to pay the excess if you should ever need to claim or if a third party claims.
  • Overnight off-road parking
    Insurance companies always ask where your vehicle is parked at night. If it is parked off-road and particularly in a garage, there is a significantly reduced risk of damage or theft and as a result will reduce your premium price.
  • Fit security devices
    As far as insurance companies go, you can never fit enough security or immobility devices. Fitting these will reduce the cost of your insurance.
  • Paying for your car insurance
    If you pay for your car insurance monthly, you are paying over 10% for the privilege of doing so. It’s not always possible to pay it in one lump sum, but if it is, you will not have any charges to pay on top.

Renewing comprehensive car insurance

Car insurance providers rely on many of their existing policyholders to simply renew the policy with the same insurer once it has expired. After all, it’s much easier to do so as they know you and your details.

If you do renew with your existing insurer, you will likely find that the premium you paid last year has this year increased. Far from any loyalty bonuses, most insurers increase policy premiums year on year, the longer you stay with them. Insurance providers do however tend to try and ‘hook’ new potential clients in by offering highly competitive quotes. It may be a little more hassle looking around at quotes and filling in forms, but changing car insurance companies each year will save you a small fortune.


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