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In the UK, legally driving a vehicle on roads and public spaces mandates having car insurance. However, various coverage options exist, among which fully comprehensive car insurance stands out, providing the highest level of protection. It goes beyond the essential protection against third-party damages, safeguarding against numerous potential problems, from accidental damages to theft. 

We explain fully comprehensive car insurance, what it covers, how much it costs, and how to find the best deals.

Fully comprehensive car insurance explained

Unlike more basic policies, comprehensive insurance covers damages to your car in many scenarios, not just when others are at fault. This can include accidents, vandalism or damage from natural events, such as storms and floods.

Beyond just covering accident-related damages, comprehensive insurance also provides coverage if your car is stolen or damaged due to fire, ensuring peace of mind in a broader range of circumstances. Many comprehensive policies also offer some form of personal injury cover, assisting with medical costs if you’re hurt in an accident and providing compensation if your personal possessions inside the car are damaged or stolen. 

Third party car insurance is the minimum legal requirement in the UK. It covers injuries to other people and damage to other vehicles but doesn’t pay out for damages to your car or injuries to yourself.

Third party, fire and theft car insurance provides less coverage than fully comprehensive, protecting you if your vehicle is stolen or damaged by fire. However, it doesn’t offer the broad protection you receive with fully comprehensive – accidental damages to your car, for instance, are not included.

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What does fully comprehensive car insurance cover?

Fully comprehensive policies provide financial protection against a broad range of issues, and while the exact coverage can vary between policies and providers, most comprehensive cover includes the following:

Typically covered Typically excluded
Accidental damage to your own or another person’s vehicle Theft caused by carelessness
Accidental damage to other people’s property as a result of an accident in your car Driving with an invalid licence or no licence
Personal injury to you or other people in an accident that was your fault Damage or injuries caused when driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Damage caused by theft, fire or vandalism Driving someone else’s car, although this varies between policies and providers
Flood damage to your car General wear and tear to your car

Fully comprehensive car insurance policies often offer a feature that allows the policyholder to drive other cars – often referred to as DOC cover – with their owner’s permission. This typically provides with the caveat that the policyholder could only drive another vehicle on a third party basis, meaning their insurance won’t cover any damage to the car they are driving. 

Over time, the inclusion of DOC cover has become less standard in comprehensive policies. It’s no longer a guarantee that having fully comprehensive insurance allows you to drive other cars. 

Even if DOC is included in a policy, there might be restrictions, such as age or frequency of use. For example, drivers under 25 might not be offered this feature, and if you want to drive the other car regularly, you would likely be required to be named on their policy.

Always read your policy’s terms and conditions or speak with your insurance provider before assuming you’re covered to drive another car.

While fully comprehensive cover includes many extras as standard, others may need to be specified as per your requirements. (Adobe)

Are there add-ons for fully comprehensive insurance cover?

Comprehensive policies usually offer options for additional cover, with some added to your policy for a fee. Some of the most common include:

  • Windscreen cover: Repair or replacement of windscreens or windows. Some policies include sunroofs or other glass features
  • Breakdown cover: Some policies include this, but often it’s an optional extra, and it offers roadside assistance if your car breaks down
  • Courtesy car cover: Provides a replacement car while yours is being repaired. There are usually conditions attached, such as the repair needing to be carried out by an approved garage
  • Lost/replacement keys cover: Covers the cost of replacing locks and keys if your car keys are lost or stolen
  • Personal accident cover: Offers compensation for severe injury or death due to an accident. This coverage helps you and your family by offsetting income loss and assisting with bills and expenses
  • Wrong fuel cover: If you misfuel – put the wrong fuel into your vehicle, this covers the resulting damage
  • Loss of personal items: Protects items in your vehicle from theft, damage, or loss. There is usually a maximum amount you can claim
  • No claims discount protection: Covers your no claims discount, allowing you to keep it, even if you have to make a claim 
  • Motor legal protection: Covers legal costs if you’re sued after an accident or if you need to claim someone else
  • Uninsured driver cover: If you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, some policies ensure you won’t lose your no claims bonus and will refund any excess you’ve had to pay
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Is fully comprehensive cover what I want?

Fully comprehensive car insurance offers the highest level of protection; however, it’s often cheaper than third party insurance. 

Third party policies traditionally appeal to drivers perceived to have a higher accident risk, leading insurers to categorise these policyholders as more claim-prone. Drivers choosing comprehensive cover are typically viewed as more cautious, making them less inclined to file a claim. So, if you’re looking to save money on your car insurance, a comprehensive policy is well worth considering. 

For owners of new or nearly-new cars, comprehensive insurance is widely considered to be a must-have. Not only due to the broad level of coverage it offers, but also because many providers include the promise to replace your car with the same make and model if the vehicle is under a year old with their policies. Third-party policies only cover damage to other people’s vehicles or property, leaving you to pay out of pocket for your own car’s repair or replacement.

If you’re financing or leasing your car, your contract may require you to have comprehensive coverage to protect any financial interest in the vehicle.

Drivers of older vehicles can also benefit from the protection of fully comprehensive cover. When determining your policy’s cost, providers consider several factors. Notably, your car’s value plays a significant role. A lower-valued car can lead to a smaller claim, potentially resulting in more affordable premiums. 

Contrary to popular opinion, according to the DVLA, older drivers are statistically less likely to be involved in a car accident than the youngest age group, which can result in lower premiums for the over 50s. However, for those aged 70 and over, the premiums may start to rise and it would be worth shopping around to find the best deals on fully comprehensive insurance. 

It’s important to consider the claims process in the event of an accident when considering if fully comprehensive cover is right for you. In an accident where it’s hard to determine fault, having comprehensive cover can simplify the claims process, as you won’t necessarily have to prove another party’s liability. 

What is the average cost of fully comprehensive car insurance?

It’s a common misconception that fully comprehensive car insurance is always the most expensive level of cover. While it provides the most extensive protection, its cost isn’t necessarily the highest.

Insurance premiums are determined by various factors, such as the driver’s age, driving history and car type.

 Having a no claims discount (NCD) can reduce your premiums for each year you don’t make a claim, as this indicates you pose a lower risk. The longer your claim-free period, the larger the discount, up to a set limit.

Your premiums could also be reduced by driving a car from a lower insurance group. Cars are classified into groups for insurance purposes, ranging from one to 50. Vehicles in group one are the least expensive to insure, while those in group 50 command the highest premiums.

Typically, insurers observe that those opting for third party or third party, fire and theft policies are at a higher risk of making a claim. Consequently, the premiums for these policies are often higher. Each insurance provider also has its own methodology for calculating risks and premiums, leading to a wide range of costs across the industry.

The table below shows the average prices for car insurance from three comparison sites. In all three cases, fully comprehensive insurance was the cheapest option, with an average price of £650. 

Comparison site Third party only Third party, fire and theft Fully comprehensive
Compare the Market* £1,668 £1,158 £743
Money Supermarket** £753 £620 £560
Confused.com*** £1,663 £1,170 £676

*Based on Compare the Market data in June 2023

**Prices correct as of February 2023

***Prices correct as of April 2023

Best ways to secure fully comprehensive insurance cover

When looking for the best price deal on a fully comprehensive insurance package, comparison websites are a valuable resource. These platforms allow you to input your details and instantly see quotes from various insurers, offering a clear picture of the market rates and the coverage they entail.

But it’s not just about the price. The reputation of the insurer is equally critical. Delve into provider reviews to understand their claims processing and customer service track record. Past customers’ experiences can shed light on an insurer’s reliability, helping you avoid potential pitfalls in the future.

Many insurers provide discounts for vehicles with heightened security measures, so consider installing approved alarms or tracking devices. Additionally, increasing your voluntary excess or limiting optional extras can reduce the overall premium if you can be flexible with your coverage. However, ensure that any changes you make still provide the protection you need.

Rather than opting for monthly payments, if possible, consider paying for your insurance annually. Many insurers offer discounts for those who pay in a single lump sum, as it saves them administrative efforts.

Even after securing your insurance, it’s a good practice to revisit the market annually. Insurance needs and market rates evolve – what’s a good deal one year might not be the best the next. Regularly reviewing and shopping around ensures you always get the most value for your money.

When it comes to renewing your car insurance, don’t wait for the auto renewal to kick in, as this isn’t always the best deal. Around three weeks before your exisiting policy ends, you can try negotiating a satisfactory quote from your current provider, or start shopping around for a new policy. 

Frequently asked questions about fully comprehensive car insurance

Always read your policy’s terms and conditions or speak with your insurance provider before assuming you’re covered to drive another car. Driver of other cars (DOC) insurance is a common feature in fully comprehensive policies, but usually only covers on a third-party basis.

Some providers allow young or new drivers to take out their standard fully comprehensive car insurance, others have a lower age limit on their policies – typically 25 years old – and a number have policies specifically designed for young drivers. 

There are several points to take into account when considering insurance for a young driver. 

  • Higher premiums: Due to statistics indicating that younger drivers, especially those under 25, are at a higher risk of accidents, insurance premiums for this age group tend to be significantly higher. 
  • Telematics (Black Box) insurance: Many young drivers opt for telematics-based insurance policies, or “black box” insurance. 
  • Additional training: Taking additional driving courses, such as the Pass Plus scheme, can sometimes help reduce insurance premiums for young drivers
  • Choosing the right car: The make and model of your vehicle can significantly impact insurance costs. Generally, cars in lower insurance groups, which often have smaller engines, will be cheaper to insure for young drivers
  • Adding a named driver: Including an experienced driver, such as a parent, as a named driver on the policy can reduce the premium, but be wary of illegally “fronting” (when a more experienced driver claims to be the primary driver when, in reality, the young driver uses the car more frequently)
  • Increase voluntary excess: Agreeing to a higher voluntary excess – the amount you pay in the event of a claim can lower the premium. 

Several factors can influence the cost of fully comprehensive car insurance. These include: 

  • Driver’s age and experience: Younger drivers, especially those under 25, often face higher premiums due to their perceived higher risk of accidents
  • Driving history: Drivers with previous accidents, claims or traffic violations, such as speeding tickets, on their record are typically considered higher risk and may face higher premiums
  • Location: Urban areas with higher traffic density can attract higher premiums than rural areas, as can areas with higher rates of car theft or vandalism will also influence premiums
  • Vehicle type and value: The age of the car, its safety features, and even colour can affect the premium. Cars are grouped into 50 insurance bands, with vehicles in band fifty – typically high-end sports cars – having the highest premiums. 
  • Usage: How the car is used, whether it’s for commuting, business or leisure, can impact the cost. Cars driven more miles annually can attract higher premiums
  • Security features: Cars equipped with advanced security systems, tracking devices or immobilisers may attract lower premiums as they’re less likely to be stolen
  • Parking: Where you park your car overnight, whether in a secure garage or on the street, often affects the insurance cost
  • Voluntary excess: Choosing a higher voluntary excess can lead to a lower upfront premium. However, it means you’ll pay more out-of-pocket if you need to make a claim
  • Coverage options: While the base of a fully comprehensive policy is standard, adding optional extras, such as breakdown cover, windshield protection or a courtesy car option, will increase prices
  • No Claims Bonus: Drivers with a history of no or few claims usually get discounts on their premiums
  • Credit score: In some cases, a person’s credit score will influence their car insurance rates
  • Occupation: Some professions are considered higher risk based on statistical data, which can influence premiums
  • Named drivers: Having older, more experienced drivers as named drivers on your policy can help to reduce premiums

Katharine Allison

Energy Saving Writer

As Independent Advisor’s energy saving expert, Katharine, a keen advocate for sustainability, is an authority on solar panels, double glazing, and cutting-edge renewable energy technologies. Her dedication merges with a commitment to enlighten and steer readers toward embracing eco-friendly solutions and the latest trends in sustainability.

With over 10 years of experience, she has worked with some of the UK’s leading companies and publications, including the Federation of Master Builders, Architectural Digest, and Denon Construction. 

Katharine is particularly passionate about consumer causes and animal welfare and has art, philosophy, and psychology degrees. She lives with her sled dogs in East Sussex.

amy

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.