Wondering what a ‘comprehensive’ car insurance policy is? Wonder no more
Insurance, like tax, is a fact of life, it being a legal requirement for all cars on the road to be insured.
You’ve got a few options for different levels of cover when it comes to choosing the right level of car insurance, with the basic one being third-party (TP), the next most basic third party fire and theft (TPFT), and the most complete level of car insurance being comprehensive cover.
But what exactly is comprehensive car insurance? Here, we explain all.
Comprehensive car insurance meaning
As the name implies, comprehensive car insurance (also known as ‘fully comp’) means that you are covered for most eventualities that could happen on the road, with your insurance company paying out if your car is stolen, catches fire, is damaged by local flooding, or is involved in an accident that sees it requiring repair or replacement.
Comprehensive car insurance is so called to differentiate it from third party insurance, which will only cover other people (IE the third parties) and their possessions if you are involved in a collision that requires a claim on your policy; your car would not be subject to any repairs or replacement being funded by the insurance company. Third party fire and theft works on the same principle, but with additional coverage ensuring you get a payout if your car is stolen or catches fire.
Comprehensive car insurance, on the other hand, will pay out for all of the circumstances described above, but will also see your car repaired or replaced should it be involved in a collision, while also potentially paying out for injuries or legal bills you might incur as a result of an insurance claim.
What does comprehensive car insurance cover?
While precise terms and conditions will vary from policy to policy, as a general rule comprehensive cover will pay out for:
- Damage to someone else’s vehicle following a collision
- Damage to your car following a collision
- Damage to or loss of your your car following fire
- Damage to or loss of your car following theft
- Medical expenses incurred by you or others following a collision
What doesn’t it cover?
As mentioned above, not all comprehensive insurance policies are the same.
Many comprehensive policies come, for example, with ‘driving other cars’ cover, which will give you third-party protection in someone else’s vehicle if they give you permission to drive it – though don’t assume you have this: check first, as the penalty for driving without insurance brings six penalty points and a £300 fine, plus the car could be seized.
Other things that may or may not be included are:
- Theft of possessions from your car
- Legal expenses if you want to take another party to court
- Personal injury compensation
- Compensation for loss of earnings if you are unable to work due to injury
Do note that if you are considered to be negligent – perhaps forgetting to lock the car), your insurance may not pay out, while any damage your car sustains will not be covered if you were under the influence of drink or drugs during the collision – even if your policy is a comprehensive one.
Is comprehensive car insurance more expensive than other types of insurance?
It used to be, until insurance companies started to notice that people who opted for third–party policies actually had a higher likelihood of making a claim, and therefore represented a higher risk.
Today, in many cases, comprehensive insurance will be cheaper than TP or TPFT.
The average cost of an insurance policy in the UK stood at £470 as of February 2023, but those who want to bring their expenses down should pay annually rather than monthly, while also being circumspect about what add-ons they need, and being sure not to overestimate their annual mileage.
Should I get comprehensive car insurance?
Yes; in almost every circumstance (save for young drivers – see below) comprehensive car insurance is a better, more affordable bet than third-party options.
If you are able to get third party cover for a cheaper rate than fully comp, and your car is not worth a huge amount (to the extent you would be happy receiving nothing for it if it were damaged beyond repair) then you could consider third party.
Alternatives to comprehensive car insurance
Young drivers who find car insurance prohibitively expensive could look into getting a ‘black box’ telematics policy, which sees variable pricing utilised, dependent upon how careful a driver you are.
A number of other types of cover exist, including classic car insurance, track day insurance and ‘temp cover’, all of which we’ve detailed in our guide to the different types of car insurance.
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