If your car’s damaged in an accident, your car insurance can cover you for a courtesy car while it’s repaired.
If you’ve ever been involved in a car accident or had your vehicle stolen, you’ll know how inconvenient it is to not have access to your car.
Your car insurance might include courtesy car cover while repairs are being done. If not, you can add it as an optional extra for a fee.
Not all insurers offer it though. According to Defaqto, 346 out of 363 comprehensive car insurance policies included a courtesy car as standard during repairs. A further eight policies offered it as an optional extra.
But you might prefer to go for your own choice of repairer, because you trust them to do a good job or simply because they’re local to you.
You’ll need to check your policy documents to find out exactly what you’re covered for, as each insurer will use different terms for things and offer different options. For example, the type of car or duration of courtesy car cover you’ll get can vary.
Here’s what you can do to keep costs down:
How long you’ll have the courtesy car for
You might not be able to keep the car for as long as the repairs take. Some policies will only provide you with a courtesy car for a limited time, for instance 30 days.
If your car is written off or stolen
Some insurers don’t offer a courtesy car if yours is a total write off. Those that do offer it will usually only let you use it for a limited time, not until you buy a new car. The same applies if your car’s stolen. so check with your insurer.
Check its condition first
Check for damage when you pick it up. If there is any, take pictures and get the supplier to make a note of it, so you’re not charged for it when you hand the car back.
You’ll probably get a hatchback
If you need a bigger car, some insurers offer a hire car or ‘enhanced’ courtesy car cover, so you’ll get something that’s comparable to your own vehicle.
Update your breakdown cover
Don’t forget to let your breakdown cover provider know that you’re driving a courtesy car and consider arranging separate breakdown cover if it won’t cover you.
If your car's repaired at a garage that your insurer has approved, you shouldn’t be charged for a courtesy vehicle.
However, if a claims-handling specialist firm- known as an accident management company - is involved in your claim it’s important you ask whether there’s a fee for using a hire car they’ve provided to avoid getting an unexpected bill.
Accident management firms sometimes add their own conditions too, like asking you to sign a credit agreement. This could leave you liable for costs that aren’t recovered from the other party’s insurance.
Don’t assume that you’ll have the same level of cover on a courtesy vehicle as you had on your own car - you might only be provided with third party cover, even though you had a comprehensive policy on your car.
Some car insurance policies won’t cover you to drive a courtesy car, even if the policy offers you one.
According to Defaqto, although 346 of the 363 policies checked provided a courtesy car, only 78 included cover to drive one as standard.
If your own insurer doesn’t cover you, you’ll instead be provided with cover by the courtesy car company.
If you have an accident in the courtesy or hire car, the insurance you’ve got to cover it will treat it just like any other car, so you’d just need to pay the excess.
The excess will be refunded later if it's decided the accident wasn’t your fault, and you should still be able to get another courtesy car to drive if needed.
Check with your insurer, or the courtesy car company, who’s actually insuring you.
If you’re involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, but you don’t have courtesy car cover, you can hire a car that’s similar to your own and recoup the costs from the third party’s insurer.
But if the accident was your fault and you don’t have courtesy car cover you’ll have to pay for a replacement vehicle yourself.
You could borrow a vehicle from a friend or relative until yours is fixed.
Last checked 27 August 2019