Take the mystery out of car insurance with our beginners' guide, then compare policies and cheap quotes to find the right deal for you.
Finding the right car insurance policy can seem quite daunting, but we have some information to help make it simple.
Every motorist is required by law to have insurance for their vehicle, providing cover for you and other named drivers in the event of driving-related damage or injury.
The only exception would be if the vehicle is registered as off road with a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN).
You're responsible for answering any questions relating to your application honestly. If the information is found to be incorrect it could invalidate your insurance and your insurer may not pay out for any claims you make.
Always make sure that the policy you're applying for has the right level of cover and features that you require.
Insurers will take into account many different factors when calculating your car insurance premium. These will include:
Age:Younger drivers will usually have to pay more for insurance, as statistically they're more likely to make a claim.
Occupation:Particular jobs could raise premiums, such as chefs or journalists.
Use of vehicle: How often you use your car, your mileage and when you travel could have an effect on how much you pay. Travelling within busy peak times can bump up your premium, too.
Driving history:Prior convictions can affect the price of your insurance.
Voluntary excess: Opting for a higher voluntary excess (the amount you pay in the event of a claim) could lower your premium.
Where you live: If your house is in an area where statistically vehicle crime is high, this could have an impact on your insurance.
There are four main different types of car insurance:
Telematics policies have made great strides into the market in recent years, using a black box or mobile phone app to calculate your premium based on the standard and nature of your driving.
Third party only is the minimum level cover required by law in the UK. It covers:
For any changes that you want to make to your policy, such as your address or to add another driver, you must inform your insurance company
Third party, fire and theft covers everything that third party does, but also:
A comprehensive policy will provide you with the most extensive level of cover, including everything covered by third party, fire and theft, and usually:
Some insurance companies offer cheaper policies that offer less protection, known as 'stripped down' policies. For example, they may have taken off windscreen cover or reduced what you can claim for personal effects - so always check your policy documents to make sure you have the cover you want.
Most car insurance policies will have key exclusions which will be outlined in your policy documents. Always make sure that you've thoroughly read what you're not covered for prior to choosing your policy.
An excess is what you're liable to pay towards a claim. There are two types, compulsory and voluntary.
A no claims bonus is a reward for people who don't make a claim on their policy.
Note that it's a 'no claim' bonus, not a 'no blame' bonus, so whether an accident is your fault or not when you make a claim, it will affect your no claims bonus, unless your insurer recovers their costs from the other driver's insurance company.
Once you have taken out an insurance policy, your insurer should send you or give you access to:
Make sure you keep your documents in a safe place where you can access them easily.
For any changes that you want to make to your policy, such as your address or to add another driver, you must inform your insurance company. This is important because if your information is false it could make any claims invalid.
You may be charged an administration fee by the insurance company for changes that you wish to make.
You'll need to read your policy documents before driving another car. Some will allow it but others won't, so take care. If your policy permits you to drive another vehicle, the following usually applies:
In the event that you have an accident or your car is stolen, it's vital that you tell your insurer straight away. This also applies if you've had an accident but aren't making a claim.
Insurers will then take details of your claim. If you have comprehensive cover and your car needs repairing, your insurer can provide you with approved repairers in your area and arrange for it to be fixed.
The Motor Insurers' Bureau was set up in 1946 to provide a way of compensating the victims of uninsured or untraced motorists.
You may be charged if you cancel your policy before it has ended
All motor insurers must be members of the Motor Insurers' Bureau and contribute to its funding.
The Bureau has a Motor Insurance Database which helps identify uninsured drivers. It's run by the Motor Insurers' Information Centre and holds details of all private and fleet motor insurance policyholders.
The police have access to the database so they can carry out on-the-spot checks on motorists to confirm they have current and valid insurance.
When an uninsured or untraced driver injures a third party or damages their property, the third party should receive compensation from the Motor Insurers' Bureau.
If a car is stolen and the car thief damages property or injures someone, the insurance company for the car covers these costs.
You may be charged if you cancel your policy before it has ended. The charge could be made up of a cancellation fee and a percentage of your premium.
Cancellation rates can usually be found in your policy booklet. Remember that you won't be able to drive your car until you take out a new policy.