What is car insurance?

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What is car insurance?

Car Insurance is a legal requirement.  As a responsible driver you will no doubt be aware that having insurance for your vehicle is mandatory, but, due to the terminology used by insurers, you may not have a complete understanding as to what exactly it is and why you need it. From the kind of car you own, your driving history to your budget, there are a number of factors you have to take into consideration before you purchase your policy. With this car insurance guide we’ll walk you through all you need to know to help you gain a clearer understanding of what car insurance is, and how you can get the best policy for you.

Why do I need Car Insurance?

All motorists are required, by law, to insure their cars. Put simply, this provides financial protection in the event of an incident which causes damage or injury to another person, vehicle, property or animal. This is known as third party cover. 

This does not include repair costs for damage to your own vehicle as a result of the incident, theft of the vehicle and damage to the vehicle caused by other reasons. To ensure your own vehicle is covered, you can choose a comprehensive level of cover when you purchase. Cars that are registered as off-road with a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) are not legally required to be insured.

How much does car insurance cost?

The first step in buying a car insurance policy is filling in the application form. The insurers will ask you several questions. These will help determine the price you’ll pay, i.e. your insurance premium.

These questions will include:

  • Vehicle type and age – an expensive new high-powered sports car will cost you more to cover compared to a ten year old 1.0 litre hatchback.
  • How the vehicle is used – needing to drive regularly during rush hour or having higher than average mileage can increase your premium. Similarly if your vehicle will be used for business purposes, aside from commuting to and from a single place of work, this may cause an increase in premium.
  • Age – being a young and inexperienced driver can result in higher costs.
  • Driving history – penalties on your licence or convictions, crashes and claims can raise your premium.
  • Voluntary excess – offering to pay a higher excess amount on top of the compulsory amount set by the insurer, which will apply should you make a claim, can lower your premium.
  • Where you live – living in a high crime area can negatively impact your insurance cost.
  • Additional drivers – adding young or inexperienced drivers to your policy is likely to increase your premium.

Make sure you answer the questions as accurately and as honestly as possible. Failure to do so can invalidate your car insurance and result in your insurer refusing to pay out if you make a claim and even withdrawing your policy.

Types of car insurance policy

The three main types of car insurance policy are:

  • Third-party only (or TPO)

    This policy is the minimum legally required level of coverage for motorists in the UK. It covers liability for injury to others, including whilst towing a caravan or trailer and damage to third-party property.
  • Third-party, fire and theft (or TPF&T)

    This policy includes all third-party insurance coverage, but also includes theft of your vehicle, and damage to your vehicle during theft and fire.
  • Comprehensive policy

    The most wide-ranging coverage that includes everything covered by third-party, fire and theft along with medical expenses, personal effects, accidental damage, windscreen coverage and loss of or damage to your vehicle.

Find out more about car insurance policy types

Types of car insurance cover

There are also several types of cover and choosing the right one for you will depend on what you need the car insurance for, your age and your personal circumstances. These include:

Find out more about car insurance policy types

Keep your car insurance details up to date

Once you’ve received your paperwork it’s important to keep your insurer up to date with any changes in your circumstances to ensure your policy is valid. Likewise, in the event of an incident or if your vehicle is stolen, you must contact your insurer immediately, even if you are not making a claim.

RAC Car insurance

RAC Comprehensive Car Insurance Plus has been given a 5 Star Rating by Defaqto.

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