Comprehensive Car Insurance Explained: All you need to know

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In the UK, having a car insurance policy in place is a legal requirement if you drive your vehicle on public roads or in public places. However, there are various types of coverage to choose/pick from, with fully comprehensive car insurance policies providing the most protection.


In this section, we will define fully comprehensive car insurance and what it covers.

Comprehensive Car Insurance

What is fully comprehensive car insurance?

Fully comprehensive car insurance (also referred to as comprehensive car insurance) covers all damage to your car, even if the accident is your fault. It can also compensate other drivers for property damage as well as injury compensation for yourself and others, where applicable.

It will also cover fire and theft damage to your vehicle.

It provides the highest level of protection when compared to other types of car insurance policies, but always compare individual policies to get a level of coverage that you are comfortable with.

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What are other types of policies available?

In addition to fully comprehensive car insurance, the following are the main types of car insurance:

    • Third-party insurance: this covers damage to other people’s property as well as compensation for injury to others, including your passengers. You will be responsible for any of the damage to your own vehicle, and you will not be reimbursed for medical expenses.
    • Third-party fire and theft: this include third-party insurance as well as damage to your car if it is stolen or damaged in a fire.

What does comprehensive car insurance cover?

While individual policies may vary, many fully comprehensive car insurance policies will cover the following:

  • damage to others’ property
  • damage caused by fire, theft, or vandalism
  • Personal injuries resulting from an accident that was your total fault – for you, your passengers, and also other third parties
  • accidental damage; and
  • Damage or theft of your vehicle’s contents.

Some policies may also include or allow you to add the following extras for a fee:

  • windscreen coverage
  • courtesy car while yours is being repaired
  • legal-protection
  • breakdown coverage
  • lost keys cover
  • personal belongings cover
  • no claims discount protection.

To avoid any unpleasant surprises, should you need to file a claim, carefully read the T&Cs because policies will vary. Make sure the provisions that are important to you are included.

What is not covered in comprehensive car insurance?

The highest level of protection is provided by comprehensive car insurance, but not all risks are covered. These are some examples of common exclusions:

  • Accidents caused when driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Driving without a valid driving license
  • Theft as a result of carelessness – for example, if your car is stolen, but you left it unlocked.
  • General wear and tear, such as worn tires or brake pads – it’s your responsibility to keep your car well maintained.
  • Driving other cars – this can vary depending on the policy. However, if coverage is provided, it is usually limited to short-term use and emergencies.

Are all the comprehensive car insurance policies the same?

Even if the policy is comprehensive, car insurance policies vary in terms of the ‘standard’ coverage they provide. A strong policy might include the following, for example:

  • Breakdown cover: provides roadside assistance if your vehicle breaks down
  • Windscreen cover: covers the cost of repairing cracked or chipped windscreens
  • Legal protection cover: covers legal costs incurred as a result of making a claim or if a claim is made against you
  • Courtesy car cover: gives you access to a temporary replacement car while yours is being repaired
  • Misfuelling coverage: pays for the cost of draining and cleaning the fuel tank if you use the incorrect fuel.
  • Protected no claims: ensures that your no claims bonus is preserved if you file a car insurance claim.

Some policies, however, will require that some or even all of these features be bought separately. What is and is not covered as standard is frequently reflected in the cost of the annual premium.

How much does comprehensive car insurance cost?

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) reports that the average cost of comprehensive auto insurance in 2020 was £465, which was 1% less than in 2019 and the lowest price since 2016.

However, a number of factors, such as your age, the car you drive, your annual mileage, any driving infractions, where you live, where you park at night, and your claims history, will affect the premium you’ll be quoted for fully comprehensive car insurance.

Additionally, even though you might think that fully comprehensive auto insurance will be more expensive because it provides more protection, for many drivers, the cost may be lower (because risky drivers usually used to plump for third-party cover, and also insurers responded by making it more expensive).

In order to feel confident about the level of cover you’ve chosen, it is worthwhile to compare all of your options.

How to reduce the cost of fully comprehensive car insurance?

The cost of fully comprehensive motor insurance can vary depending on the type/kind of car you drive, with cars with smaller engines typically costing less to insure.

Whatever vehicle you drive, installing security features like an immobilizer or leaving your car in a more secure location overnight, like a garage or a driveway, could potentially lower your insurance premium.

The amount you drive can also affect how much you pay for car insurance, so consider reducing your annual mileage by doing things like ride-sharing.

If you are considered a high-risk proposition, such as a new or younger driver, you may want to consider black box insurance coverage (also known as telematics insurance).

This is where a device is installed in your car to monitor you’re driving, with safe drivers rewarded with lower premiums.

If you agree to a higher excess (the amount you must pay towards a claim), the premium you are quoted may be reduced as well.

With car insurance, you usually agree to a voluntary excess as well as a mandatory excess set by your insurer. Consider carefully before agreeing to a high excess, as it’s a false economy if you cannot afford to pay it in the event of a claim.

Paying your premium annually rather than monthly is often a better value in the long run because you may be charged interest if you pay monthly.

Is fully comprehensive car insurance a legal requirement?

Comprehensive car insurance is not required by law but having car insurance is.

Third-party car insurance is the bare minimum for driving on UK roads. This is the most basic level of coverage and only covers damage to other vehicles, other people (including your passengers), and their property.

Third-party car insurance does not cover you or your car, so you will have to pay for any damage out of your own pocket.

Be advised that you risk receiving a fixed £300 fine and six penalty points from the police if you are found driving without any sort of car insurance. If the matter is brought to court, you risk receiving an exorbitant fine and losing your driving privileges. Additionally, the police have the authority to seize and wreck your car.

You don’t need car insurance if you keep your car off the road. But you must use a “Statutory Off-Road Notification” to declare your vehicle “off road” (SORN).


The cost of fully comprehensive car insurance is determined by the premium vs. protection trade-off. If you drive a valuable car, whether it’s a brand-new model or a vintage classic, it may be worth getting comprehensive car insurance because repairing or replacing your wheels can be costly. The cost of annual insurance should be less than the value of your vehicle.

However, it is a personal choice as well as a mathematical one; some drivers simply feel more at ease knowing they will be financially protected if they are involved in an accident.


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