Which car insurance extras are worth having?

When you apply for car insurance, you can pay extra for additional features to tailor your cover to your needs. But are these extras worth the cost? Here’s all you need to know to help you get the right cover, without paying over the odds.

What are car insurance extras?

Car insurance extras are cover benefits that do not come as standard on your car insurance policy but can be added for an extra cost. All car insurance policies are different, and some offer more benefits as standard than others.

If you are looking for a new car insurance policy, make sure you compare each policy carefully to check exactly what is automatically included in the policy and what you might need to pay extra for.

If you have an existing policy, check to see if you are missing any of the following features:

  • Legal cover

  • Breakdown cover

  • Cover for driving abroad

  • Courtesy car cover

  • Personal accident cover

Do you need extra cover?

Before you add any extras to your policy, ask yourself the following questions for each type of cover:

  • Do you think you will need it?

  • Does it cover what you need it to do?

  • Can you afford the extra cost?

If you can answer yes to all three it may be worth adding the extra cover to your policy. 

Before you do so, however, it’s worth checking whether you have cover elsewhere – if you have a packaged bank account, for example, many include additional benefits such as breakdown cover, so it’s worth checking if yours does. 

If not, it’s a good idea to compare the price of buying the cover separately elsewhere to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

What are the different types of optional extras?

Below, we’ve outlined some of the most common extras you can choose from to help you weigh up whether they are worth adding:

Legal cover provides financial protection against any legal expenses that might be incurred after an accident that was not your fault, including uninsured losses like lost earnings or personal injury. You can find out what is covered and when you can claim with legal cover in this guide.

  • How much does it cost? Legal cover can cost between £20 and £30 per year to add to your policy.

  • Should you add it? If you feel you need extra protection against uninsured losses then it is worth having, and it could save you a lot of money if you need to use it.

What is breakdown cover?

Breakdown cover provides roadside assistance and recovery to a garage if your car breaks down.

Very few car insurance policies include breakdown cover as standard, so you can either add it as an extra or buy it as a standalone policy. However, before you do, it’s important to check whether you already have cover through a packaged current account or elsewhere. 

You should also check the terms and conditions for any exclusions, as some policies won’t cover cars over 10 years old. 

Take a look at our guides to learn everything you need to know about breakdown cover, including how it works and the cover it gives you.

  • How much does it cost? A basic breakdown policy can cost around £20, but the most comprehensive cover (which can include cover at your home address and accommodation or onward travel) can be more than £200 a year.

  • Should you add it? If your car is unreliable you might be more likely to need this cover, but it’s best to shop around first and see whether you can find a better deal with a standalone policy rather than accepting the policy offered by your car insurer. Compare cover options first before you add breakdown cover as an extra.

What is cover for driving abroad?

All car insurance policies offer third party only cover for driving abroad, but there are many restrictions and third party cover will only pay out for damage to other vehicles and property. This means that you will have to fork out for any repair costs to your own car yourself.  

If you choose to add cover for driving abroad, however, you’ll have the same cover abroad as you have in the UK. This means that if you have a fully comprehensive policy when you drive at home, you will get fully comprehensive cover when you drive abroad.

Read our guide for an in-depth look at insuring your car to drive overseas.

  • How much does it cost? Extended European cover usually costs around £20 to add to your policy.

  • Should you add it? If you take your car abroad regularly, this could be worth having.

What is courtesy car cover?

Courtesy car cover provides you with an alternative vehicle if your car is being repaired, or has been written off, following a claim.

There are usually conditions attached to getting a courtesy car, including:

  • You must use an approved garage for any repairs

  • The courtesy car may be subject to availability

  • You may only be offered a small hatchback regardless of the car you drive

  • You may only get use of the car for a set period, often 14 or 21 days, so you may have to return the vehicle if the repairs take longer

Check your policy to see the full list of conditions, and if you want to ensure you get a vehicle of a similar make and model to yours, consider upgrading to Guaranteed Replacement Car cover.

  • How much does it cost? Adding a courtesy car will add around £20 to your annual premium.

  • Should you add it? If you have access to a second car, for example if you are a named driver on your partner's vehicle, you may not need a courtesy car. However, if you rely on your car every day this cover could be useful if your car is unavailable following an accident.

What is personal accident cover?

Personal accident cover will protect you, the driver, if you suffer a serious injury while in your car. 

Some comprehensive car insurance policies include a level of personal accident cover as standard, but you can add extra protection to boost the level of cover you get. For example:

  • A standard policy may offer £10,000 of personal accident cover

  • Adding extra protection might increase the cover to £100,000

Check the policy carefully for restrictions, including what injuries are covered as some will only cover:

  • Death

  • Permanent loss of limb

  • Loss of sight

Other policies could cover you for burns and fractures if you extend your level of cover.

You may also find that policies won’t pay out if: 

  • The accident was caused while the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • Anyone in the vehicle was not wearing a seat belt

  • The injuries were caused as a result of an attempted suicide

  • How much does it cost? Extending your personal accident cover will usually cost between £20 and £30, depending on the insurance company.

  • Should you add it? Think about whether the added cover is worth the cost. Your decision will be down to your personal preference and how risk averse you are.

What other extras can you add?

Protected no claims

You can pay extra to protect your no claims bonus, so that you will not lose your no claims discount if you have to make a claim.

You usually have to wait until you have at least three years' no claims built up. Read our guide to find out if it is worth protecting you no claims bonus.

Windscreen cover

This covers the cost to repair chips or cracks in your windscreen. It is often included in fully comprehensive policies but acts as a separate policy with a lower excess so you do not need to make a full claim to repair your windscreen.

Replacement key cover

Replacing lost or stolen keys can be expensive — as much as £200. This will cover the cost of replacements, and some policies also cover the transport or car hire costs associated with losing your keys.

Audio equipment cover

This will pay out if your in-car audio system is stolen or damaged. Note that if your audio system is not the manufacturer-fitted standard, you will need to inform your insurer to make sure you’re covered.

Sat nav cover

This provides cover for your sat nav if it is stolen or damaged.

Child car seat cover

Some policies also offer extra cover to replace car seats if you’re involved in an accident. However, more and more policies are now offering this as standard. 

Personal belongings cover

This covers any personal possessions left in your car, but keep in mind you may not receive a payout if the items were stolen from an unlocked car or if you left them in clear view rather than in a glovebox or boot. Some policies will also exclude money and credit cards. 

Medical expenses

This will pay out a small sum towards medical expenses, but you’ll get more cover through personal accident insurance.

Misfuelling

Covers the cost of draining and cleaning the fuel tank if you fill up with the wrong fuel.

Whatever car you drive, make sure you find insurance that covers everything you need as cheaply as possible by comparing policies.