Courtesy car insurance

If your car’s damaged in an accident, your motor insurance can cover you for a courtesy car while it’s being repaired.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 6 March 2023  | 3 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

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What is a courtesy car and why is it important for car insurance?

A courtesy car is a replacement car that you can use if your own vehicle is involved in an accident and needs to go into the garage for repairs.

Courtesy car cover may be included as standard in your car insurance policy, depending on the level of cover you have. Or you can add it as an optional extra to some policies.

According to Defaqto, 92% of 325 comprehensive car insurance policies included a courtesy car as standard during repairs. A further 6% offered it as an optional extra.[1]

It’ll usually be a condition of your policy that you use one of your provider’s recommended and approved repairers to be eligible to use a courtesy car.

If you’re involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault and your car needs to go into the garage for repairs, you may be able to get a courtesy car and claim for it on the at fault car’s insurance.

Key points

  • Courtesy car cover might be included as standard on your policy, or available to buy as an optional extra
  • Many insurers won’t provide one if your car's written off
  • You'll probably have to use the insurer's approved repairer to be eligible for a courtesy car

The benefits of having courtesy car cover

A car can be an absolute necessity for a lot of us. Perhaps you commute to work every day, take children to school, or rely on your car because transport links in your area are poor. In these circumstances, if your car is off the road for any period of time, it can be a real inconvenience.

Courtesy car cover can help bring peace of mind that, should your own car need to go to the garage for repairs, you’ll be given the use of an alternate car to carry out all your usual and necessary journeys until you get your car back.

The limitations and exclusions of courtesy car cover

Terms and conditions of courtesy car cover vary between policies, so do read wording carefully. Typically, standard courtesy car cover will have limitations like:

  • The type and size of car you can get. Your insurer will usually provide you with a small hatchback or similar vehicle with an engine size of 1000cc
  • You may not be able to get a courtesy car after all insurable incidents. For example, many insurers don’t offer a courtesy car if yours is written off or stolen
  • While some policies allow you to keep the courtesy car until all repairs to your own car are completed, others place a time limit on how long you can keep it
  • You usually need to use one of your insurer’s approved garages to carry out the repairs to get access to a courtesy car
  • You won’t be able to get one if you’re only claiming for windscreen or window damage

How to choose the right level of courtesy car cover

Some providers offer enhanced courtesy car cover or guaranteed courtesy car options at extra cost.

This higher level of cover offers benefits such as:

  • Provision of a courtesy car if your car is stolen or declared a total write-off
  • A courtesy car that’s a similar size to your own car - for example if you normally drive a seven-seater, your insurer will aim to match it with a like-for-like replacement
  • Payment up to a certain amount per day to cover alternative travel costs if your insurer is unable to get a hire vehicle for you, or if your car’s been adapted to carry a disabled driver or passenger and a suitable hire car isn’t available

Can I arrange a courtesy car after theft - or if my car’s declared a write-off?

With most standard courtesy car cover, you’ll usually only get a courtesy car if your vehicle is repairable and is taken to the insurer’s approved garage to be fixed - not if your car’s stolen or declared a write-off. That’s because courtesy cars are often provided by the insurer’s nominated repairer.

The impact of a courtesy car on your no-claims bonus (NCB)

If you have an accident in your car that’s your fault and make a claim, you’ll usually lose two years of your NCB if you haven’t protected it. Similarly, if your car is stolen or you’re hit by an uninsured driver, any claim you make will affect your NCB.

What’s the difference between courtesy car cover and hire car cover?

With courtesy car cover, many policies won’t offer a replacement if your car is beyond repair or stolen and not recovered. Hire car cover is sometimes available to buy as an optional extra and it will cover you if your car is written off or stolen.

Whereas courtesy car cover usually supplies you with a small hatchback, car hire cover may supply you with a vehicle that’s a similar type and size to your own.

How much does it cost to add courtesy car cover to your insurance policy?

It’s included as standard on some fully comprehensive policies, but if you need to add it as an optional extra, it will depend on the insurer and the level of cover you require.

The average price of a courtesy car add-on is £20 a year[2].

Remember that this is just an average though – your quotes will depend on other factors like your age, the car you drive, mileage and driving history.

[2]Average cost of car insurance add-ons bought through Go.Compare in May 2023 - July 2023.

Will I be insured to drive a courtesy car?

It depends on your provider. But in many instances, where a courtesy car is included in your insurance, you’ll be insured to drive it under the same terms as your current car insurance policy. This should apply to any named drivers on your policy, too.

However, it’s really important to check with your insurer. Sometimes, even if you have comprehensive cover, your insurer will only provide third party cover for you to drive a courtesy car.

How long can you keep a courtesy car?

It depends on the policy. Some will allow you to have the courtesy car the whole time that your own car is in the garage. Others will limit how long you can have it even if the repairs take longer.

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[1]Last checked 3 January 2023

*[2]Average cost of car insurance add-ons bought through Go.Compare in May 2023 - July 2023.