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Last updated: 17 September 2021
When you're looking to insure your car, you'll notice that there are a few different levels of cover available. We've probably all heard of “fully comp” and “third party” cover, but there's a good chance you've not stopped to look into the details.
This guide will break down everything you need to know to guarantee you get the car insurance deal that's right for you. The three types of cover you'll commonly encounter are third party only, third party fire and theft, and comprehensive (fully comp)...
What's the difference between third party and fully comp?
Third party only insurance is the most basic type, and offers you cover on damages to any cars you may hit in an accident. It's the minimum level of insurance required to drive legally in the UK. Damage to your own vehicle is not subject to any insurance pay out.
Third party fire and theft, likewise, covers damages to other cars as well as covering you on your own vehicle in the instance that it is stolen or damaged by a fire. This is more commonly offered than TPO and is often a level of insurance considered by young or inexperienced drivers, because traditionally having a lower level of cover suggests that the policy will be cheaper.
Comprehensive, or fully comp, offers all the cover of third party, fire and theft, but also covers damages to your own vehicle in an accident. Fully comprehensive cover is a high standard of insurance and essentially means you will be free from large payouts, apart from your excess, in the event of an accident.
Generally, when you compare car insurance deals, you'll find fully comp at the more expensive end of the scale. There are a number of reasons for this, which we'll explore now.
Why consider fully comprehensive car insurance?
When choosing fully comprehensive insurance, you're able to make claims for any damage to your own car, whether it's your fault or not. We all make mistakes occasionally and knowing that your mistake won't cost you the full amount for repairs can offer peace of mind!
It's also handy when the person at fault is unknown. So, if you find your parked car has been scratched or dented, you'll be able to claim, whereas with a third-party policy this would be your own responsibility to make repairs.
A benefit that some fully comp policies offer is cover to drain your petrol tank in the event you accidentally put the wrong fuel in your car. It's a good idea to check the fine print on your policy documents though, as this isn't universal.
If you're ethically minded, it's good to note that fully comp insurance also means that your insurer is most likely to be able to pay out to another driver's insurer in the event that you're found to be at fault. This all sounds great, so what does it cost?
Is fully comp more expensive?
You would think so, but in fact it isn't always! For this reason, it's important that whenever you compare car insurance, you should check out all the options available to you. On some occasions, fully comprehensive cover can be practically the same price as its third-party alternatives.
The reasons for this are in the way insurers calculate their prices. Most drivers are essentially looking for cheap car insurance, and many are willing to sacrifice on their cover in order to get the best price possible. For this reason, many drivers considered “high-risk”, perhaps because they are young and inexperienced, will opt for a third party insurance policy in order to save money.
Over the course of many thousands of cases, claims from these high-risk drivers on third party policies is high, meaning the insurance company is paying out more money on those policies. The insurer will then increase the price of these policies in order to cover the high number of claims. Third party policies become “risky” for the insurer, and in some cases the fully comprehensive policies become an affordable alternative.
So there you have it, you may not have to compromise on your cover in order to get a cheap deal. Just shop around using our car insurance comparison tool, and potentially for a few more pounds you could cover yourself more comprehensively.
Things a comprehensive policy might not cover
There are a few additional points worth looking up for on specific policies. Some insurers will offer these as part of their fully comprehensive policy and others won't, so read the fine print!
- Courtesy car
- Breakdown cover
- Transport after accident
- Windscreen repair or replacement
- Vandalism cover