If you drive a car you'll need to be insured. And third-party car insurance is the minimum legal level of cover. But is it the right level of insurance for you?
Legislation introduced in 1930 makes third-party car insurance the legal minimum level of car insurance you need to drive on public roads.
Relatively basic third-party cover can be bought at a reasonable price, and is enough to get you on the road and provide a degree of peace of mind. But it's worth bearing in mind that protection is limited.
So what is third-party cover? And how much protection will you receive?
Basically it’s the minimum amount of protection you can buy. It covers you against:
- physical damage to another vehicle or structure;
- injuries to a third party or your own passengers; and
- medical treatment cost and legal cost claims against you.
But if you were to suffer an injury in an accident that was deemed your fault – or your vehicle sustained substantial damage in the crash – you wouldn't receive a penny. And neither will you get any compensation if the vehicle is stolen, vandalised in the street or even set on fire.
Why should you consider third-party cover?
The simple reason is: it’s usually cheap. For young drivers, new drivers or drivers with a provisional licence with limited budgets and cars that are worth relatively little, it can make sense.
If your vehicle is only going to cost a few hundred pounds to replace, it’s arguably not worth paying a similar amount for cover.
This isn't the only consideration, though. When it comes to car insurance, you have a few options to consider. Which is most suitable will depend on your individual requirements, and how much you can afford to spend.
For example, as well as basic third-party cover, there’s also third-party, fire and theft. This offers the same benefits as third-party only, but also protects your vehicle against fire damage and being stolen.
Then there's comprehensive insurance. This offers all of the benefits already mentioned, as well as accidental damage cover for your own car and, more importantly, yourself. Additional benefits can include cover for personal possessions and medical expenses.
How should you choose?
Firstly, it’s important not to immediately write off comprehensive cover as being too expensive. Depending on which insurer you choose, it might even work out as a better option than basic third-party protection. Anyone who owns a high-value car should definitely opt for a policy with greater coverage than third-party cover, as any slight savings made on the premium will be easily wiped out should you be unlucky enough to have an accident.
Read our article on what to do in the event of an accident.
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