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Last updated: 20 July, 2020

What is car insurance?

Car insurance is a way of protecting yourself in case your car gets stolen, broken into, or you damage your car in an accident. It also protects you if you damage someone else’s vehicle or property.

Your motor insurance pays out if any of these unfortunate events take place.

If you’re a car owner in the UK, you’re legally required to have car insurance. If you drive without insurance, you could be fined and get penalty points on your licence. You could even be disqualified from driving.

The only time you don’t need car insurance is if you’ve declared your vehicle off-road with a SORN notice. You’ll need to keep it on private property if that’s the case.

Car insurance is not all about price

Of course it makes sense to compare car insurance so you can find the best car insurance quotes. But it’s more important to have the right cover than it is to find the cheapest car insurance, UK wide.

If you just think about finding cheap car insurance, you could end up in trouble if you need to make a claim. If you get very cheap car insurance and you’re not covered for what you need, you could end up with no car, or you could lose hundreds or thousands of pounds.

When you do your car insurance comparison, you need to make sure you find the cover you need, at a price you can afford.

The three levels of motor insurance cover

There are three levels of car insurance that you’ll need to choose between. They vary in price and what they offer. Think carefully about what you need before you go ahead.

Fully comprehensive car insurance covers you, your car, passengers and property. It also covers any third parties involved in an accident with you. And it protects your car against vandalism and theft. Some policies let you drive other people’s cars too. It offers more cover than any other type of car insurance but it’s not always the most expensive.

Third party, fire and theft car insurance covers third parties involved in an accident with you. It also gives you protection if your vehicle was stolen or damaged by fire. Remember that it doesn’t pay out for any damage to your own vehicle if you had an accident.

Third party car insurance is the most basic level of car insurance. It just covers you for any compensation you might have to pay for injury to others, and for damage to anyone else’s property. It’s a minimum legal requirement for all drivers in the UK to have this insurance.

Before you decide which motor insurance to get, it’s important to think about what might happen if you didn’t have a good enough level of cover. How would you cope if you were left without a car?. This guide can help you figure out what car insurance cover you should get.

Types of car insurance

There are several different types of car insurance that you might like to think about before you get car insurance quotes.

Multi car insurance is a policy that covers two or more cars in your household.

Black box insurance monitors your driving using something called a telematics box in your car. It sends information about your driving to the insurer. The better you drive, the less you pay.

Learner car insurance is the car insurance UK provisional licence holders need to have.

Taxi insurance is a motor insurance policy to cover cars used for commercial hire.

Short term car insurance is a temporary car insurance policy which covers you for a short period of time, such as a week or a few months.

European car insurance is needed in certain countries. But you can drive in most European countries on your normal UK car insurance.

Business car insurance is for people who use their car for business reasons, such as driving to meetings on behalf of their employer.

Classic car insurance is for classic car owners. Classic cars are usually worth more money, and cost more to repair, than modern cars. For that reason they sometimes need a special classic car insurance policy.

Car insurance for over 50s is usually cheaper because older drivers have lots of experience. Some insurers sell special over 50s policies.

Find the best car insurance policy for you

When you’re looking at different car insurance companies trying to find the best car insurance for your needs, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Cover before cost

Decide which type of cover you need based on your driving habits and situation. Then find the best car insurance deals for your needs. Don’t just go for cheap insurance as you might regret it later.

Level of cover

Choosing between comprehensive cover and third party cover can be tricky. If the car you’re insuring is newer and you couldn’t afford to replace it if you needed to, comprehensive cover is better for you. But, if your car is more than 10 years old, or has more than 100,000 miles on it, and isn’t worth a lot of money, third-party cover might be better.


The voluntary excess is the minimum amount you’ll pay when you make a claim on your motor insurance. The higher the excess you’re happy to pay, the cheaper your monthly premiums will be. It’s important to choose an excess you can afford, otherwise you won’t be able to make a claim.

When you’ve decided what your ideal car insurance would be, compare deals that fit your criteria.

Should you add extras?

You can tailor your car insurance policy, and get better cover, by paying to add extra benefits. These include:

  • Legal cover – here’s how to work out if you need it

  • Breakdown cover

  • Cover for lost or stolen keys

  • No claims protection

  • Cover for driving abroad

  • Windscreen repair and replacement

  • Courtesy car

  • Personal injury.

See the full list of the car insurance extras that could be worth adding to your policy.

Make sure to check your motor insurance policy to see if any of these are included as standard. If not, think about whether it’s worth spending a bit more to add them.

What is no claims protection?

Some insurers reward people if they go a long time without making a claim. Usually, for every year you don’t claim, you’ll get a little bit more of a discount on your policy. This is called a no claims bonus.

You can pay extra to protect your no claims bonus, so you don’t lose your no claims discount even if you need to claim. This is called no claims protection and you can usually get it once you’ve reached three years with no claims.

How to get car insurance quotes?

One of the best ways to get car insurance quotes is to do a car insurance comparison. To do this, you’ll need to enter your car registration at the top of this page. Then you’ll need to share some details such as:

Car model and make. If you know your car’s registration number, you can give that. But if you don’t, giving your car’s make and model is often enough. You also need to mention any modifications you’ve made.

Usage. This is about what you use your car for – whether it’s for commuting, socialising or business. You’ll also need to say how many miles you travel in a year.>>

Personal information: Your name, age, address and employment details.

Your licence: The kind of licence you have can affect your insurance. This is also where you can add any other driving qualifications you may have.

Claim history: You’ll need to confirm how many years’ worth of no claims bonus you’ve got. Or you’ll need to give details about any accidents you’ve had or claims you’ve made in the last five years.

What is the price of car insurance based on?

The price of your motor insurance is based on quite a lot of factors. These include:

  • Your annual mileage (people who drive a lot are more likely to have an accident)

  • Your occupation (some jobs are seen as risky)

  • Which insurance group your car’s in (the lower the group, the cheaper it’ll be to repair or replace, and the cheaper your car insurance will be)

  • Your address (because most claims are for incidents close to people’s homes)

  • How old you are (young drivers pay more)

  • How much experience you have of driving (newer drivers will pay more than experienced ones)

  • Your claims history (including your no claims discount)

  • Your criminal history (if you have convictions you’re seen as higher risk)

  • Whether you want to add anyone else to your policy (if they’re an experienced driver with no claims, it can reduce the price of your policy).

How to get the best deal on car insurance

While it’s most important that you get the right car insurance for your needs, you’ll also want to get cheap car insurance quotes. Nobody wants to pay more than they need to.

There are a few things you can do to reduce the price of your motor insurance.

Lower your risk

The price of your insurance is based on how much of a risk insurers think you are. To reduce your risk you could protect your car by fitting an approved alarm or parking it in a garage. You could also buy a car from one of the lower car insurance groups. Cars from the lower car insurance groups are cheaper to repair or replace.

Lower the price

Car insurers usually give you a better deal if you pay your insurance annually, rather than in monthly instalments. It also helps if you add experienced drivers to the cover, even if they don’t use the car that often.

Shop around

If you compare car insurance quotes you’ll be able to find the best deal possible. But don’t cut corners to get cheap insurance. You can also ask for a discount – haggling doesn’t hurt. If you find a quote with a different insurer, ask your provider to beat or match the offer. It’s not a guarantee, but chances are car insurance companies want to keep your business.

Don’t forget that it’s important to give accurate information to your insurer. It could be tempting to say someone else is the main driver, to lie about your driving history or to underestimate your mileage to reduce the price. But it’s never a good idea. Lying could make your insurance invalid, and you could be prosecuted.

Once you’ve got your car insurance, you also remember to tell your insurer if your situation changes at all, such as if you move house or modify your vehicle. If you don’t, your insurance could be invalid. Your insurer could cancel your policy and this would make it harder to get a policy from other insurance companies in the future.

How to work out the mileage on your car?

You can work out how many miles you do a week and then multiply it by 52 weeks to get a year’s mileage. Or you can have a look at your MOT certificates to see what your mileage has been like in recent years.

The more miles you do, the more risky you’ll seem to insurers, because you’re more likely to have an accident. But it’s important to be as accurate as you can when you do your insurance comparison. Your insurer needs the right details, so you don’t accidently invalidate the policy.

How do you estimate the value of your car?

There are lots of websites where you can get a free valuation of your car. The value’s based on its age, mileage, make, service history, condition and modifications. You could also check how much cars like yours are selling for on used-car listings.

Compare Car insurance FAQs

No, it is a legal requirement to have at least third party car insurance cover to drive in the UK.

There are several things you can do to get cheaper cover. Try these 10 easy ways to cut your car insurance costs.

It can cover damage to your and another driver's car after an accident. It can also cover theft, vandalism and fire.

Paying annually in one go will usually work out cheaper because you will be charged interest of up to 30% when you pay monthly.

No, your current provider will not usually offer the cheapest deal so shop around and find a new policy instead of renewing.

Yes, you can use our quote service to find cheap cover for your imported car. You can select whether your car is a grey or parallel import.

Yes, you can check if a car has a valid insurance policy in place through the Motor Insurance Database (MID).

Most car insurance policies last one year, but you can cancel your cover for a fee. You can get short term cover for between one day and three months.

If you have a fully comprehensive policy you might be covered to drive other people's cars, but some polices do not allow this.

Yes, if you buy a new car you will need to tell your insurer so they can update your policy. The cost of your cover will probably change.

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