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What is third party car insurance?

February 06, 2023 by

Confused over what third-party car insurance means? We’ve got your back

Car insurance, like taxation, is a fact of life. And, also like taxation, it can be relatively complex and involved.

Third-party insurance is the most basic cover you can get, and it’s the legal minimum level of insurance required before you can drive a car on the road, covering any damage or injury you may cause, but not reimbursing you for any damage or injury you or your car are respectively subject to.

Here, we’ll go into the ins and outs of what third-party insurance covers and what it doesn’t, and if it could be the right level of insurance for you.

What does third party car insurance cover?

The ‘third party’ in third-party car insurance is essentially everyone other than you.

  • Damage to other people’s vehicles: crash into someone else’s car and third-party insurance will pay for their vehicle to be repaired or replaced.
  • Damage to other people’s property: perhaps you reverse into a wall and knock it down, or some road or street furniture such as signs or bollards are damaged in a collision; third-party insurance would reimburse the wall owner or highways authority in charge of the road for the damage.
  • Injury to other people: should the worst happen and someone else is injured in a collision that you are involved in, third-party insurance would meet their medical bills, and cover you against legal costs for any claims brought against you.

What is not covered by third-party car insurance?

All of the above, as it pertains to you:

  • Your car: if you only have third-party cover and your car is damaged in a collision that was your fault, you will receive no money to repair or replace it – it will be all down to you. If the accident was someone else’s fault you could still potentially claim against their insurer, though.
  • Your own property: if you back into your own garden fence, for example, you would have to pay for any repairs out of your own pocket.
  • Injury to you: if you are unfortunate enough to sustain injury in a collision that is judged to be your fault, you would not receive any money to help with medical bills, time lost from work, or any legal action. If the accident was someone else’s fault you could still potentially claim against their insurer, though.

Is third party car insurance cheaper than other types of insurance?

It often used to be, but this is increasingly no longer the case. Insurers may see someone who wants to take out third-party cover as a higher risk than someone paying for a comprehensive policy, and as insurance premiums are gauged based on an individual’s profile, providers may judge someone taking out third-party cover as less responsible than someone who insures themselves to a comprehensive level.

Should I get third-party car insurance?

If you have looked at quotes for comprehensive and third-party cover and the latter is more affordable, you may wish to consider it if your car is not worth a huge amount of money – though bear in mind that any personal injury you might sustain in a collision will not be covered by third-party insurance.

In most cases, therefore, fully comprehensive cover is a wiser choice, while it’s also worth pointing out that car finance arrangements such as PCP and leasing deals will require you to have fully comprehensive insurance.

Alternatives to third party car insurance

Young drivers wanting to reduce their insurance costs may wish to consider ‘black-box’ telematics insurance rather than third-party. Black box insurance sees a small electronic device fitted to the car, and this will measure how, when and where the car is driven, bringing potentially lower premiums for careful driving, and higher ones for less careful driving. Some black-box providers utilise a smartphone app rather than physical telematics box.

Bear in mind that if your driving is consistently poor it can see an insurance policy cancelled, which you would have to declare every time you took cover out in future.

Third party fire and theft insurance, meanwhile, provides the same minimum level of cover as third-party, but will also pay out if your car is stolen, or damaged/destroyed through fire, including arson.

Classic car insurance, meanwhile, can be a good choice if you have an older car (typically over 15 years old), while temporary cover can be good if you only need insurance for a short period of time.

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