There are three main types of car insurance available, starting with the cheapest and least common:
This is the minimum level of insurance required by law - all drivers must take out at least this kind of policy. It covers damage caused to someone else's car, or injury to them, in the event of an accident that is your fault. With this kind of insurance you won't be able to claim for any injuries or losses sustained by yourself for any reason.
Third Party, Fire and Theft
This is a step above basic third party cover. If your car is stolen and not recovered, or destroyed by fire, you'll be able to make a claim. You'll still be insured against damage or injury to someone else in an accident blamed on you.
With comprehensive insurance, you can claim for damage to your car even if the damage was caused in an incident that was your responsibility. This kind of insurance also covers the same things as third party, fire, and theft. Comprehensive cover usually allows you to drive someone else’s vehicle with their permission under 3rd party cover, though you should check your policy specifically for this.
So those are the basic kinds of insurance, but policies from different insurers can offer different extra features that you can take into account when choosing who to insure with. This is especially true of comprehensive policies, which can have quite a few added extras. When comparing policies you should bear in mind that nothing is ‘free', no matter what the advertisments say. If you don't need a specific feature, you might be able to get a lower price by getting a policy that doesn't offer unnecessary frills.
No Claims Bonus
If your insurance cover includes a No Claims Bonus or No Claims Discount, then for every insured year that you don't make a claim, your premiums will be reduced by a percentage, to reflect the fact that you're showing you're not a big risk to your insurance company. The discount will grow year by year until you hit the upper limit available, which is generally 60-70% depending on your insurer. If you make a claim, your bonus will usually be reduced, either back to it's previous level or even cancelled completely. Some policies offer a ‘no claims bonus for life’ option which locks your bonus at its current level, even if you make a claim. This can be a good option if you've already reached a maximum discount as this will be protected no matter what happens in the future. Finally on this topic, many insurers will allow you to transfer over your discount level built up on a policy from a different company. You'd obviously be less likely to switch insurance companies if it meant losing your discount, so this will be an option in almost all cases.
You can also add named drivers onto your policy, so that they will be covered when driving your car. This is popular with parents, who often add their children who have just passed their driving test to their policies. Quite often this is the only economical way to get a new driver insured in today’s insurance market.
If your car needs repairing after an accident and is off the road, with this feature you'll get free use of a hire car to keep you mobile until you get your own car back.
Broken windscreens will usually be replaced for free under a roadside assistance scheme, but if you don't have that kind of cover or windscreens aren't included, make sure you can get a free replacement from your insurance.
If you plan to install expensive in-car audio equipment, check that the policy will cover replacing it if it's stolen from your car. Some policies have limits on the value of audio equipment they are prepared to cover.
Some policies come with an element of breakdown and recovery cover included, or will offer discounts on such cover. If you already have breakdown cover, you may find this saves you money by letting you cancel your separate policy.
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