Car insurance policies
Everyone who drives a car – or indeed any vehicle on the public highways – must, by law, have car insurance. This means, if a driver has an accident while behind the wheel the costs caused by that incident will be covered.
Even if you do not own a car, but are driving a vehicle belonging to someone else, you must still get insured. You can do this by putting yourself as an additional driver on the policy of the car's owner.
There are many different kinds of car insurance policy available. There are specialist products for women, young drivers and older drivers which allow these categories of driver to find cheaper deals than they might by buying a mainstream policy.
There are also products available specifically for people who own and drive kit cars, vans, sports cars, HGVs, classic cars – the list goes on. Vehicles like classic cars are usually expensive to insure because they are more likely to break down or be used for racing purposes so premiums can often be more expensive.
Car insurance policies usually last for a year. After a year – or in some cases 10 months – if you have not made a claim you receive a "no claims bonus". The more of these you pick up the lower your premiums will be.
What does it cover?
There are three main types of car insurance available. Third party insurance is the most basic – and also the cheapest – and this provides cover for damage caused to other vehicles by a driver whilst behind the wheel of a car.
Third party fire and theft covers damage to another vehicle but it also provides financial protection in case the driver's car is damaged or destroyed in a fire or is stolen.
Comprehensive insurance covers all the above, plus any damage caused to the driver's car if they cause an accident.
There are also many extras that can be included as part of car insurance deals. Many women-only car insurance policies include cover for handbags, for example. Some policies include cover for travel to European countries.
Who is Car Insurance for?
Car insurance is, quite simply, for everyone who owns or drives a car. It is illegal not to have car insurance, so there's no excuse for not buying a policy. If you are under 25 or a new driver it will be tricky to find cheap car insurance and the premiums are usually very high. It is common for new drivers to be included as an additional driver on a parent's or partner's car insurance.
Pitfalls of Car Insurance
Third party car insurance is the most basic, and therefore the cheapest but it does not cover you for damage caused to your own car if you have an accident. The same applies to third party fire and theft cover. You could end up paying out more than you can afford if you are not insured for this eventuality.
It is important to disclose, when taking out a policy, any points on your driving licence and to be honest about your age and experience. It might be tempting to try to reduce your premiums by providing false information, but this will cause all sorts of problems when making a claim.
Your address is another factor which can affect your premiums, as can the place you are keeping the car. If you plan to park it in a secure garage next to your home, which happens to be located in an area with zero crime you will find your premiums are lower. But park it on the road in a busy crime-ridden street and you might find your premiums are much higher.
Car insurance claims are subject to an excess. This means the policyholder must pay the first part of any claim. This is usually a set amount – £200, for example. It is worth checking how much this is before signing up to an insurance policy.
Drivers are also urged to check their policy to make sure it covers for the breakage of a windscreen, for example. Many people assume things like this are included. It is also worth checking, if you have a comprehensive car insurance policy, that you are covered if driving someone else's car. Some insurers include this -but many don't.
Where to buy Car Insurance
This depends entirely on what kind of policy you are looking for. If you need to buy a policy for your classic off-road racer then you will need to locate a specialist in this field.
If you are female, you might want the added bonuses and lower premiums offered by specialists in this field.
If you fit none of these categories – or even if you do- you will be well advised to shop around. There are so many companies offering car insurance that with a bit of effort you can probably find a very competitive deal. Insurance brokers can help you search the market, as can price comparison websites.