What levels of cover are there?

There are three main levels of car insurance:

  1. 1.

    Fully comprehensive

  2. 2.

    Third party, fire and theft

  3. 3.

    Third party only cover

What is comprehensive car insurance?

It is the most complete level of cover you can get for your car.

It gives you financial protection for accidental damage, fire, theft and any damage to third party property in the event of an accident.

Many fully comprehensive policies will also include cover for:

  • Personal injury

  • Windscreen damage

  • Personal possessions

  • Driving other cars; find out more in this guide

Comprehensive cover can offer a lot more protection than the other insurance levels, but each insurer will offer different benefits.

Some comprehensive policies offer a courtesy car as standard, while others may only offer it as an optional extra.

What is third party, fire and theft cover?

This provides financial cover for damage you cause to other road users, as well as letting you claim for loss or damage caused by fire or theft.

Third party, fire and theft cover will not pay out for any damage to your own car in the event of an accident.

What is third party only cover?

This is the most basic level of insurance and it will only pay out to cover damage to other people and their property, not your own costs.

It is the minimum legal level of cover you can get to drive in the UK. Some insurers will not offer this level of cover.

Third party only insurance will also compensate any passengers that suffer injuries whilst travelling in your car.

Third party cover will never pay for damage to your own car.

What does each cover?

This table shows what each level of cover could protect you against:

CoverFully compThird party, fire & theftThird party only
Damage to third party propertyYesYesYes
Loss or damage caused by fire or theftYesYesNo
Accidental damage to your carYesNoNo
Personal accident*YesNoNo
Personal belongings*YesNoNo
Windscreen cover*YesNoNo
Uninsured driver cover*YesNoNo
*These may be available as optional extras that can be added to your policy for an additional cost, but many fully comprehensive policies will include them as standard.

Remember: this is only a rough guide and every policy is different. Check the policy documents carefully to see what is covered by each policy.

Which level is the cheapest?

Fully comprehensive cover can still be the cheapest option, even though it offers the best cover.

This is because high risk drivers have taken out third party, fire and theft or third party only policies in the past to reduce the cost of their cover. Insurance companies now recognise that drivers with lower protection policies are more likely to claim, so increase the cost.

A driver case study:

An 18 year old living in Swindon driving a 2013 Ford Fiesta Zetec with 0 years' no claims bonus*:

  • Third party only: 4,207.16

  • Third party, fire and theft: 3,566.72

  • Comprehensive: 3,553.76

*Quote with Hastings Direct, November 2016.

This example shows that a comprehensive policy would save this driver 653.40 compared to third party only cover.

If you are looking for the best price for your car insurance, compare quotes for each level; you may find you can get much more cover for less money.