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Hire car, personal injury and legal cover explained

Are these add-ons worth it? Get clued up on how they work before you make a decision either way.

Car insurance policy add-ons

You’ve just bought your car insurance policy online and within minutes you get a phone call from the insurer.

Some chipper employee at the other end tries to give you the hard sell on a number of “beneficial extras” to your policy.

You grumble something non-committal and slam the phone down, smug in the knowledge that you’ve dodged their sales tactics.

But what if those extras were actually worth it? Let’s take a look.

Aside from breakdown cover, the most common add-ons to a policy are hire car, legal expenses and personal injury cover.

Hire car

man handing woman car keys

Typical additional cost: £20-£30

If your car’s written off or has been stolen and not recovered , you could be left without a set of wheels for quite some time.

This is when the hire car add-on would kick in. Rather than leaving you to fend for yourself, you get the use of a car for a set period of time – usually 21 days.

Some policies also let your named drivers use the hire car, so nobody is inconvenienced. They might also give you a small cash payout instead to cover alternative transport expenses.

Don’t expect a model identical to your own car, though. Unless you have a legit reason for needing a specific car, you’ll probably be given a standard, 1-litre engine model.

So if you’re a company director and your business depends on how your clients perceive you, you might be able to argue for that prestige BMW. Otherwise, it’s the standard model for you.

“Hang on,” you might be thinking, “I’ve already got that on my policy. Courtesy car, right?”

Not quite. A courtesy car and a hire car are two different beasts. Courtesy cars are given out when your car is damaged but repairable. If it's written off or stolen, no courtesy car for you.

Do I need it? That all depends on how much you use your car.

If you think you can get by for a few weeks by using public transport, car sharing or walking, then hire car is an unnecessary expense.

Legal expenses cover

Gavel and law book covered with life ring

Typical additional cost: £25

Claiming on your car insurance policy is usually pretty straightforward - be in accident, make a claim, get payout.

But what happens if you need to take somebody to court to recuperate your costs from the accident?

Unless your policy offers some legal protection as standard, you’re the one who’ll be shelling out for those legal expenses.

A typical legal expenses add-on covers you for up to £100,000 in legal fees to pursue compensation for things like:

  • loss of earnings
  • medical expenses
  • reasonable travel expenses
  • phone calls made to your insurer
  • hire car costs

There’s no guarantee that your insurer will pursue legal action on your behalf, even with this in place. If they expect that the case won’t go in your favour, they may refuse the claim.

These policies also tend to give you access to a helpline that you can use to get legal advice.

Do I need it? Though it doesn’t sound particularly useful at a glance, legal cover potentially is the most useful of add-on of all.

Fighting your corner in court can quickly become expensive, so it’s one worth considering.

Some insurers include this as part of a standard policy, whereas others drop it to shave a few pounds off your price. Always check what you already have before upgrading your policy.

Personal injury cover

Teddy bear with bandaged head

Typical additional cost: from £30

Many comprehensive insurance policies include a level of personal injury cover as standard.

So if you as the policyholder or your partner suffered a serious injury or died after an accident, this would pay out to help with recuperation costs, lost income or private treatment.

What the personal injury add-on offers is extra protection  – usually up to £100,000 – to cover these. This benefit is usually extended to cover everyone named on your policy too.

Some insurers even let you have this protection if you’re travelling in someone else’s car.

Do I need it? This depends entirely on your circumstances.

Many people would already have some form of cover for serious injury or death as part of their life insurance policy, but younger people tend not to have this in place.

Given that younger people are statistically more likely to have an accident, this personal injury cover offers that extra layer of protection.

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