In total there are three categories of car insurance available in the UK, as described below.
This is the minimum cover available, which includes insurance against claims for injury to other people caused by your passengers. Third party insurance provides the minimum legal cover in all EU countries plus the Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland without a green card. Not all insurance companies offer third party car insurance.
Third Party, Fire & Theft
Third party, fire and theft (TPF&T) includes loss or damage caused to your car and anything fitted to it by fire, lightning, explosion, theft or attempted theft. It usually includes broken glass.
Comprehensive covers all the risks listed under the two categories above, plus damage to your own car, theft of contents (usually limited to £100 or £150), broken glass (e.g. windscreen replacement), personal accident benefits and medical expenses (e.g. £100 or £200). It also usually includes damage from natural hazards, e.g. storm damage. Extra cover may be offered free or for an additional fee and may include the cost of hiring a car if yours is involved in an accident or stolen; legal assistance; no-claims discount protection; and extra cover for a car stereo or phone.
Windscreen damage, mostly due to stones thrown up by other vehicles, results in around 1.5 million claims a year. Comprehensive insurance may also cover you against loss when your car is in a garage for service or repair. Check a policy for any restrictions: for example, you may not be covered against theft if your car isn’t garaged and locked overnight. Most lenders usually insist on comprehensive insurance for leasing, contract hire, hire purchase and loan agreements.
Any insurance policy can include other people to drive your car (either individually named or any driver). Comprehensive insurance generally covers you only for third party when you’re driving a car that doesn’t belong to you. Separate passenger insurance is usually unnecessary as passengers are automatically covered by all British motor insurance policies (people are injured in around 40 per cent of all accidents, yet two out of three don’t bother to make a claim). Personal accident, medical expenses, clothing and personal effects cover are usually included in comprehensive policies. Around two-thirds of British motorists have fully comprehensive insurance.
British motor insurance doesn’t include a free green card. This is usually available for a maximum period (e.g. three months a year) and is expensive. However, it isn’t necessary to have a green card when driving in Western Europe although, without one, you’re covered only for the minimum third party insurance required by law.
This article is an extract from Living and working in Britain. Click here to get a copy now.