If you plan on driving in Northern Ireland, then it’s legally required to have insurance. Just like when you’re buying a car, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to car insurance. Whether you’re a first-time driver or changing your car, it’s important to understand the difference between comprehensive and third-party fire & theft car insurance.
The kind you choose will depend on factors such as the price you’re willing to pay for insurance, the level of cover you want for your car, or the value of your car.
If you’ve never heard of these types of insurance or if it’s a case where you’re unsure which one you should take out, then read on to discover the one best suited to your individual needs.
Comprehensive Car Insurance
What is Comprehensive Car Insurance?
Comprehensive insurance, also known as fully comprehensive car insurance, is the highest level of insurance you can buy. It offers you the most protection and cover. Not only does it cover you for damage sustained from a non-collision accident, but it also protects you in the event of a collision even if you’re the one at fault.
It offers you all the benefits of third-party fire & theft but with the added bonus of ensuring you’re protected when it comes to personal injury or damage to your car.
Comprehensive insurance may be a requirement until your loan is paid off if you’re leasing or financing your car. Some people choose not to have this type of insurance when they own their car outright, but you have to ask yourself “can I afford to pay for damages to my own vehicle if I get caught in a thunderstorm or am involved in a collision?”
What Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover?
A typical comprehensive car insurance policy not only provides coverage for injury or damage to a third-party but also for damage to your vehicle due to:
- Natural disasters (such as flooding or hailstorms)
- Falling objects (such as trees or rocks)
- Hitting animals
- Glass or windscreen breakage
It’s important to check with your insurance provider as policies can vary in terms of the additional cover they include. For example, breakdown assistance may be included in your policy or it may come as an optional extra add-on.
What Does Comprehensive Insurance NOT Cover?
Although comprehensive car insurance does cover most damage, it doesn’t mean absolutely everything is covered in the policy as a standard. Things that are not covered include:
- Negligence - if you leave your car unlocked or valuable items clearly on display.
- Invalid driving licence - you need to have an appropriate licence which isn’t expired or suspended.
- Normal wear and tear - worn tyres or brake pads aren’t covered.
Bear in mind that just because you have comprehensive insurance, it doesn’t mean you’re covered while driving other cars. This type of insurance used to cover driving other cars (DOC), but this is no longer the case.
As always, it’s important to check any queries with your insurance provider. If you tend to use another person's car often then it’s worth looking into short term car insurance or being added as a named driver on that person’s policy.
Third-Party Fire & Theft Car Insurance
What is Third-Party Fire & Theft Car Insurance?
Third-party fire & theft insurance offers you a more basic level of protection compared to comprehensive insurance. Although this type of insurance covers you for three things - third-party damage, fire, and theft, it doesn’t provide cover for your own vehicle or personal injury if you’re at fault in an accident. If you’re not at fault, then the insurance of the responsible party will cover your costs. In other words, it covers you if another motorist makes a claim against you for injury or if you damage another vehicle. Third-party insurance is the legal minimum level of cover required to drive in the UK.
In addition to Third-Party, most drivers also add Fire & Theft to their policy to ensure coverage for any fire damage to your vehicle, if your vehicle gets stolen or any damage to your vehicle by attempted theft.
What Does Third-Party Fire & Theft Insurance Cover?
Third-party fire & theft insurance covers:
- Claims made against you for injury to someone else
- Damages made to someone else’s vehicle
- Damage caused by fire or attempted theft
- Stolen vehicle
What Does Third-Party Fire & Theft Insurance NOT Cover?
Third-party fire & theft car insurance only covers damage to another person and their vehicle, as well as fire and theft of your own vehicle. It does not cover damage caused by:
- Fallen trees or other objects
- Hitting an animal
- Natural disasters
It also doesn’t cover you for injury to yourself or damage to your vehicle in the event of a collision. Remember that if you’re not at fault then the other driver's insurance will cover you in this case.
For both types of insurance, the amount paid out by your insurance company depends on the cash value of your vehicle. So, if your vehicle is worth £9,000 then your insurer will only pay out this amount. If you wish to replace a totalled vehicle with a new one that costs more, then you will have to pay the balance out of your own pocket.
You will also need to choose a deductible (known as insurance excess) when you sign up for comprehensive and third-party fire & theft insurance.
The deductible is the amount you pay towards a claim. For example, your car gets £2,500 worth of damage in a hailstorm and your excess is £500, then your insurance company would pay out £2,000 and you pay the £500. Like all types of insurance, choosing a higher excess reduces your premium allowing you to benefit from cheaper car insurance.
Get an easy, online quote for both types of insurance today and see which works best for you and your car.