Compare quotes for third party, fire and theft policies that protect you against damage you cause to other's property or their car in an accident, but not your own.
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Last updated: February 2021
It’s illegal to drive on UK roads without valid car insurance. This means having third party car insurance at the very least. But what does this insurance offer and would you be better off paying more for better cover?
There are three levels of car insurance that entitle motorists to drive on UK roads, ranging from the most basic to the more advanced. There are variants within each, depending on what specific policies offer as standard and what you pay extra for, but they are known as:
Third party, fire and theft
Third party insurance is the most basic policy, covering injury or damage to anyone else’s car and property as a result of a road traffic accident you cause. It will cover injury to other people involved in the accident, including passengers in your own car.
Third party will not cover any personal injury you incur, damage to your car or loss or damage to your property. Incidentally, the term ‘third party’ just means someone else. You and your insurers are the first and second parties.
Although third party insurance won’t cover your losses, if someone causes a road traffic accident resulting in injury to you or damage to your car or property you can claim on their insurance to cover your losses.
Third party, fire and theft (TPFT) is the next level up from straightforward third party insurance. In addition to providing third party cover it will pay out if your car is damaged or lost as a result of fire or theft.
As the name suggests comprehensive car insurance covers most typical claims. As well as TPFT, it will typically cover damage to your car following an accident as standard.
Additionally, many comprehensive policies will also cover personal accident and injury, personal belongings, windscreen cover and uninsured driver cover. The last of these applies if your car is hit by someone without insurance, or who drives off without leaving their details.
You would think that third party car insurance is the least pricey of the three levels of cover on offer, but this isn’t necessarily so.
Data collected by insurers shows that the typical third party only customer tends to be an inexperienced and young driver who is raring to get on the road and pays little attention to their policies. They just opt for the most basic option on the principle that it’ll be cheap.
As drivers under 25 typically make more claims than older drivers, some insurers reflect this by increasing premiums for people who choose third party or third party, fire and theft policies. Conversely, experienced drivers who choose comprehensive are seen as a safer bet.
Just because third party insurance isn’t necessarily the cheapest doesn’t mean it is always more expensive than the other options. If you are on a tight budget, and willing to risk starting from scratch following a prang, it could offer significant savings.
Also, third party cover could be better than remaining on someone else’s insurance as a named driver, if you are keen to build up your no-claims discount and enjoy greater savings when you buy your next car.
It may also be a better bet than borrowing someone’s car on occasion and paying for short-term car insurance, which is cheaper for one-offs temporary excursions, but less so if this becomes a regular event.
Third party insurance, or whatever the cheapest option available, is sometimes selected when someone mothballs their car, perhaps if they spend a large chunk of the year away, either at university or on an extended holiday.
A pay-per-mile insurance policy might work better in this instance, where you are charged a flat fee for the basic risks when your car is parked up, then an additional cost for each mile you drive.
If you are parked on your own property, rather than the road, you may also be better off applying for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), a legal requirement even if your car is not being used.
This means you don’t have to pay any insurance at all, but will mean you have to pay out yourself if your car is stolen or catches fire.
Whatever your budget or needs for car insurance, it makes sense not to pay more than you have to. Even if you are opting for third party insurance you may be able to chip a little off the bottom line with some careful consideration when getting quotes.
Adding alloy wheels or a body kid can give your car a whole new look and feel. However, any enhancement that makes it stand out from the crowd also makes it more attractive to thieves, and so will increase your insurance premium.
Insurers take your mileage into consideration. If you can limit the time you spend behind the wheel, you will pay less, as the more you drive, the greater the risk of being involved in an accident.
If your household has a corral of cars, it may be worthwhile getting a multi-car insurance policy to cover them all, and split the bill. In this way you may be able to get a higher level of cover than third party for little more or even a bit less of an outlay.
It is tempting to pay for car insurance on a monthly rather than annual basis, but doing so can see you incur interest, which can increase an already hefty premium. If possible, budget for cover and pay the lot in one lump sum.
Don’t just call a few big-name insurers for quotes, and never auto renew without first comparing offers, as existing customers rarely get a good deal from their policy provider.
Instead use a comparison site to find the cheapest policy of the standard you require. If you are focused on getting a third-party policy, take a moment to edit your search to see if it is cheaper to buy TPFT or comprehensive, getting more for less.
Not always, so make sure you get a range of quotes for both levels of cover before you buy a policy. Here is what each level covers you against.
Yes, some insurers offer this but not all. It is the minimum legal cover you can have to drive in the UK and will only cover third party claims.
The cost of third party, fire and theft insurance depends on factors like: your car, age and where you live. This guide explains how it is worked out.
No, because you will not have much cover in place compared to comprehensive cover and it is not always a cheaper option.
Check what comes as standard with your policy before you add extras like breakdown cover. Here is how to work out which extras you might need.
There are several things you can do to get cheaper cover. Try these 10 easy ways to cut your car insurance costs.
Paying annually in one go will usually work out cheaper because if you pay monthly you can be charged interest of up to 30%.