If you have a comprehensive car insurance policy, you likely have some kind of courtesy car cover already.
This lets you drive a replacement car while yours is in the garage. Your insurer should arrange all this for you.
But there are some exclusions to be aware of.
Here's what you need to know.
What is a courtesy car?
A courtesy car is a temporary replacement vehicle given to you by your car insurance company while yours is repaired by an approved garage.
Courtesy cars tend to be small and cheap to run – usually 1-litre, 3-door manual hatchbacks. For example:
- Vauxhall Corsa
- Renault Clio
- Ford Ka
It probably won’t be an exact, like-for-like replacement of your own car, unless that’s stated in your policy.
You usually have the courtesy car for as long as your car is being repaired.
How do I get courtesy car insurance cover?
You usually get courtesy car cover as part of a comprehensive car insurance policy. While many insurers offer this as standard, some let you add it on at an extra cost.
When you compare car insurance quotes with us, you'll see what extras come with your policy alongside your prices.
Courtesy cars are in the second column and you'll see:
- A tick if courtesy car cover is included in the policy
- A cross if it's not included as standard
Where courtesy car cover isn't included, you'll see the cost to add it beneath the cross.
If you’re involved in an accident and the other driver was at fault, you might be able to claim for a courtesy car on their car insurance policy. If you were at fault, then it depends on your policy and the level of cover you have.
Am I insured to drive a courtesy car?
Yes - if you have comprehensive car insurance, you should be insured to drive your courtesy car. Most of the time, insurers that offer courtesy cars also cover any named drivers added to your policy.
But don't assume that you or named drivers have courtesy car cover automatically. If you're unsure, it's best to check the terms and conditions of your policy.
If your insurer offers you a courtesy car, it's not always the same level as your own policy. For example, if you have comprehensive cover on your standard policy you might only get third-party cover for your courtesy car.
Make sure you understand your courtesy car cover before you start using it.
Do you have to pay for a courtesy car?
No - if you have courtesy car cover on your policy and you're entitled to have one, you don't need to pay to get it.
If you don't have this cover as standard, you might be able to upgrade your policy at an extra cost.
If you're in an accident that wasn't your fault and the third-party insurer offers you a replacement car, you shouldn't have to pay anything.
Although the car itself is included with your cover, you still have to pay for:
- Parking costs
- Any fines or penalty notices
- Congestion and toll charges
What exclusions are there with courtesy car insurance cover?
Even if you have comprehensive car insurance, there are times when you might not be able to get a courtesy car. These include:
- If you refuse to use one of the insurer's approved repairers.
- If your vehicle only has windscreen or glass damage and you’re claiming on your windscreen cover.
- If your car has been written off or if your vehicle is stolen.
- If the garage has no courtesy cars available. This is usually in the policy terms as a ‘subject to availability’ clause.
- If you’re under 21 years of age.
- If the car being repaired is a classic car or a camper van.
- If you have an accident outside of the UK.
What's the difference between a courtesy car and hire car cover?
With hire car cover, your replacement car should be similar in size to your own vehicle. This could be useful if you rely on having a larger car or big boot. You might also be able to get the car delivered to your home address and collected when you no longer need it.
You can sometimes use your hire car cover in situations where you wouldn't get a courtesy car. For example, if your own car is written off.
Whereas you usually get a courtesy car for the duration of the repairs, hire cars tend to be available only until the claim is settled. This is usually around 21-28 days.
Since this kind of cover tends to come with more options than a courtesy car, it usually comes at an added cost.
What happens if I have an accident in my courtesy car?
When you get a courtesy car you'll likely have the same level of insurance cover you would under your normal policy.
So if you're involved in an accident, your insurance policy should cover it. Usually the process follows this order:
- The insurance company covers the cost of repairs to the courtesy car
- You pay the excess amount listed on the policy
- You should be offered a replacement courtesy car
You'll need to declare this accident when you compare car insurance quotes in future, and your no-claims bonus could be affected too.