Courtesy Cars: Everything You Need to Know

Your courtesy car FAQs answered.

What is a courtesy car? It’s a temporary replacement vehicle if yours is out of action. You might get a courtesy car from a garage or your car insurance provider if you’ve been in an accident and your car needs to be repaired.  

Here, we answer some courtesy car FAQs, including how to find out if you’re entitled to one, what sort of car you can expect, and how long you can keep it. 

How do I know if I get a courtesy car after an accident? 

If you’re involved in an accident, and your car is damaged (yet repairable), you might be entitled to a courtesy car while your vehicle is in the garage. It all depends on who was at fault for the accident, and the level of car insurance cover you have. 

  • If the accident was your fault and you have a comprehensive car insurance policy, you may have the use of a courtesy car included as standard. Check your policy’s terms and conditions to see if your provider offers this service. Sometimes it’s an add-on feature for an additional cost.

    But if you only have third-party or third-party, fire and theft insurance, you’re less likely to have the use of a courtesy car included. Again, check your policy’s fine print to be sure.
  • If the accident wasn’t your fault, you might be able to claim for a courtesy car on the other person’s insurance.

Are there situations where a courtesy car won’t be made available?

Even with a comprehensive car insurance policy, there are several reasons why you might not get a courtesy car when yours is unavailable. These include:

In addition to this, the offer of a courtesy car is usually subject to availability. If the garage doing the repairs doesn’t have any available at the time, you probably won’t get one.

Is a courtesy car free?

Most of the time, yes. But again, it depends on the level of cover you have. 

  • If you have comprehensive car insurance and a courtesy car is included as standard, you probably won’t have to pay any additional costs to use it. (You’ll still need to pay for the fuel).
  • If your policy doesn’t include the use of a courtesy car, you can usually pay an extra fee to add it on. 

What courtesy car will I get?

The offer of a courtesy car is designed to get you back on the road quickly while you wait for your car to be repaired. With that in mind, most courtesy cars tend to fall under the same category: small, one-litre, three-door hatchback vehicles. Think Nissan Micras, Ford Kas, Fiat 500s, or Kia Picantos.

These cars are sometimes referred to as “Class A Courtesy Cars.” Usually cheap to run and insure. And depending on the garage offering the car, it may also include the company’s branding on the side. 

If you need a courtesy car that’s similar to or the same as your own (a people carrier to accommodate your large family, for example), you’ll need to ensure that your car insurance policy includes a “like for like” courtesy car feature. 

Do garages need to provide a courtesy car?

No. There’s no legal requirement for a garage to offer you a courtesy car while yours is getting fixed. 

What’s more, getting a courtesy car often requires you to take your car to one of your insurance provider’s approved garages. If you choose to go with your own mechanic instead, you might not be entitled to a replacement vehicle. 

How long can you keep a courtesy car?

The length of time you can keep a courtesy car will depend on the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy. 

Some insurance providers will let you have the car for the entire time your vehicle is in the garage. However, others might limit how many days or weeks you can use a courtesy car.

If driving is a big part of your day-to-day life, make sure you have the replacement vehicle cover you need when searching for a new car insurance quote

Am I insured to drive a courtesy car?

If your comprehensive car insurance policy includes the use of a courtesy car, there’s a good chance you’ll already be insured to drive it. The insurer may also cover any named drivers on your policy. 

Remember, valid car insurance is a legal requirement for driving on UK roads, and it’s your responsibility to ensure you’re adequately covered. 

Don’t just assume you or the named drivers are automatically insured. Double-check your policy’s terms and conditions, and speak to your provider if you’re unsure. 

What happens if I get into an accident while driving a courtesy car?

If your comprehensive policy also covers you driving a courtesy car, you’ll normally be covered in the same way if you get into an accident. It’ll simply be treated as a separate insurance claim.

However, some insurance providers won’t cover a courtesy car at the same level as your standard policy. Instead, you may only get third-party cover for a courtesy car. 

This means if you end up in an accident and it’s your fault, the insurance will cover the repair and personal injury costs of the other driver — but you’ll be on the hook for the courtesy car repairs and your own medical expenses.  

As we mentioned above, it’s up to you to make sure you have the right level of cover before you get behind the wheel. 

Are there any alternatives to getting a courtesy car?

There can be several reasons why the courtesy car offered in your insurance policy might not tick all your boxes. It could be too small, or limited to only a certain number of days or weeks. Or perhaps your vehicle has been modified for use with disabilities, and you won’t be able to drive an unmodified courtesy car.  

If that’s the case, some providers will offer “hire car cover” as an alternative. Although typically a more expensive add-on to a standard comprehensive policy, choosing a hire car instead of a courtesy car could get you a vehicle that’s similar in size and spec to your own. 

It could also be made available for the duration of the time your car is in the garage, and many hire car companies will drop off and collect the vehicle at your home address, saving you a lot of time and hassle. 

And if you can’t arrange a replacement vehicle for one reason or another, some providers will pay to cover the cost of alternative transportation while your car is being repaired.

Quickfire summary

To recap, a courtesy car is a temporary replacement vehicle while yours is being repaired following an accident. 

Many comprehensive insurance policies will include the use of a courtesy car as standard. However, it’s always worth double-checking if you’re entitled to one and if there are any conditions attached. And if you weren’t the one at fault for the accident, you can usually make a courtesy car claim on the other person’s insurance. 

Just remember that most insurance providers will only offer a courtesy car if your vehicle can be repaired. If it’s written off or stolen, you won’t get a replacement. 

That’s why, at Howden, we offer replacement vehicle cover, even if your car was stolen or written off. We keep you motoring, whatever happens! Learn more here.

Also read:
Car insurance: What is a non-fault claim? 
Does car insurance cover off-road driving? 
How Often Should You Service Your Car?