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What is third-party, fire and theft car insurance?

Motorway trafficIt’s a legal requirement for drivers to have at least third-party only (TPO) car insurance in order to drive on UK roads. This is necessary to safeguard any other parties involved in an incident. But a far greater proportion of drivers take out third-party, fire and theft (TPFT) cover.

This offers the middle-ground level of protection. Taking out a TPFT policy would give you a better level of cover than third-party only, but you wouldn’t be as well protected as if you’d taken out a comprehensive policy.

For instance, were you to crash into another vehicle and the accident was deemed to be your fault, then despite not being able to claim for damage to your own car, you’d at least be covered for any damage or personal injury incurred by the other driver. You’d also be covered for legal costs in the event of such proceedings, excluding fines.

What’s meant by fire and theft?

TPFT cover will also allow you to pursue claims for damage to your car following an attempted theft. This can include, for example, the theft of your car stereo, or damage to your door lock. The provision for fire damage will typically come into play when thieves burn out a car in order to destroy evidence. But it can also apply to any other potential fire damage.

The amount you contribute toward any fire or theft claim will depend on the level of voluntary excess you choose when taking out your policy, and the compulsory excess that accompanies the policy.

What does third-party, fire and theft car insurance cover?

Masked man breaking into carSo, in a nutshell, TPFT covers you against:

  • Damage caused to other people, their vehicles and their property
  • The cost of repairing other vehicles
  • Third-party medical treatment costs
  • Legal claims made against you as a result of an accident
  • Theft of your car
  • Fire damage to your car

However, TPFT will not cover you for:

  • Repair costs to your car
  • Any medical expenses you may incur as a result of an accident

Could a third-party, fire and theft policy save me money?

TPFT cover tends to bring about cheaper car insurance than comprehensive cover. However, before making a decision solely on this price, it’s an idea to consider what extra you can get from a comprehensive policy.

The chief difference is that a comprehensive policy will cover you for damage to your car. As such, you’ll be covered for repairs carried on your vehicle after a collision, or you will recover the market value of your car if it’s deemed uneconomical to repair (i.e. written off). If you have a TPFT policy, you’ll have to pay out yourself.

For this reason, TPFT cover is often seen as an alternative for lower-value cars. If you own a car that's paid for with a loan, or any car that you couldn’t afford to repair or replace out of your own pocket, you may want to consider a fully comprehensive policy that provides cover for expensive repairs. 

In addition, where a window is smashed in an attempted theft, and yet nothing is taken, your TPFT policy may not cover you. This is because it may be viewed as a windscreen/window claim rather than a theft by insurers. In such a case, you will certainly be covered by a comprehensive policy. Plus the excess payable with comprehensive cover in such a situation (typically £50 - £75) would be less than excess payable for a successful theft claim (typically £100 - £150).

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