What is Comprehensive Insurance?

Get to grips with comprehensive car insurance.

When you choose your level of car insurance coverage, you’ll often have a choice between comprehensive, third-party, and third party, fire and theft. 

But what is comprehensive insurance? What does it cover? And what’s the difference between the three options? 

Read on to find out.  

What is comprehensive insurance, and what does it cover?

Comprehensive car insurance (also referred to as “fully comprehensive” or “fully comp”) is the broadest level of cover you can get for your vehicle. It pays out if you damage your car, someone else’s car, or injure someone in an accident. 

What does comprehensive insurance cover? 

Comprehensive car insurance policies can vary from one provider to the next. But in general, if you take out fully comp cover, you should be protected against the following: 

  • Accidental damage to your car
  • Accidental damage to someone else’s car
  • Injuries to you or other people involved in an accident
  • Damage to other people’s property caused by an accident
  • Theft or fire damage to your car
  • Damaged or stolen personal belongings in your car at the time of an accident or theft

What’s not covered by a fully comprehensive policy?

Although many comprehensive policies offer a wide range of features as standard, you may need to pay extra for certain beneficial add-ons. These can include:

  • Breakdown cover and roadside assistance
  • Access to a courtesy car while yours is being repaired 
  • Transportation home after an accident 
  • Vandalism cover 
  • Windscreen cover  

Always double-check with your insurer to understand what is and isn’t included with your comprehensive cover.

Does comprehensive mean I can drive any car?

No. In order to drive someone else’s car, you’ll need “driving other cars (DOC) insurance.” And this is usually only available as an add-on for comprehensive car insurance policies. 

If you have this cover in place, you can drive another car without being a named driver or needing to buy temporary cover. You just need to ensure that the vehicle is covered by an existing insurance policy and that you have permission to drive it. 

What is the difference between third-party and comprehensive insurance?

Third-party car insurance is the minimum level of cover required to drive in the UK. 

As the name suggests, it only covers third parties (other drivers or passengers, including your own) in the event of an accident. However, unlike comprehensive cover, it doesn’t cover damage to your vehicle or the cost of your medical expenses following an accident.

Similarly, third-party, fire and theft won’t cover you for any accidental damage to your vehicle, but it does protect against theft or fire damage.

So, if you have third-party cover and get into a fender bender that’s deemed your fault, your insurance provider will pay out to the other parties involved — but you’ll be on the hook for your car’s repair costs.  

Read more: What does third-party insurance cover?

Is it worth having fully comprehensive insurance?

It can be! It all depends on your circumstances. 

Let’s say you’re driving a brand-new car. A comprehensive car insurance policy gives you complete peace of mind that you’re covered no matter what happens. 

For example, if you get into an accident, you can make a claim whether it was your fault or not. Or, if you return to your car and find it’s been damaged or broken into, your insurer should cover the cost of repairs and payout for anything that’s been taken. 

On the other hand, third-party-only cover can be a good idea if your vehicle isn’t worth a lot, as the cost to fix your car following an accident could be similar to simply replacing it. 

Is comprehensive more expensive than third-party insurance?

Not always. You might find that if you shop around, you’ll get a comprehensive quote that’s similar to (or even cheaper than) a third-party quote. 

That’s because third-party insurance is popular with younger drivers, who are statistically more likely to have an accident. As a result, many insurance providers see third-party-only insurance as the riskier option and price it higher.

But it’s not just your age that will determine how much you pay for car insurance. Whether you’re searching for fully comp or third-party, the following will affect the price:

  • How much you drive: The more miles you drive each year, the more likely you’ll need to make a claim. 
  • Your vehicle’s make and model: High-performance cars with powerful engines could make you a riskier driver in the eyes of some insurers. 
  • Previous driving convictions: If you’ve been caught speeding or driving under the influence, your car insurance premiums will increase. 

And remember, even if third-party cover is the cheaper option now, it could still cost you more in the long run if you get into an accident and have to pay for your own repair costs.

What happens if I have comprehensive coverage and I get into an accident?

No matter what level of insurance you have, Citizens Advice recommends that you not admit fault at the scene if you get into an accident.

Instead, you should:

  • Take a note of the registration numbers of any other vehicles involved in the accident.
  • Exchange names and other details with the other drivers. If anyone refuses to give you their information, your insurer may be able to trace them through their registration number.
  • Get details from any independent witnesses.
  • Tell your insurer about the accident ASAP (even if you don’t want to make a claim).
  • Take photographs of the scene that you can use later if you need to make a claim.

And if someone is injured in the accident, show your insurance certificate or cover note to the police at the scene. If you don’t have those documents handy at the time, you’ll have seven days to take them to a police station. 

Next, you should make a claim against the other driver.

Your insurer will then review all available evidence and testimonies before deciding who was responsible for the accident. 

  • If they say you were at fault, your insurer will make a payout to the other driver to cover the cost of vehicle repairs and/or personal injury claims. You’ll also be covered for any damage to your vehicle and/or medical expenses via your comprehensive policy. 
  • If the other driver was at fault, you’ll receive compensation from their insurer for repairs or medical expenses, such as physiotherapy. 

If you’ve been in an accident and received a claim form from the other driver, you should forward this to your insurer straightaway. 

Need to make a claim with A-Plan? We make it easy. Get started here.

What happens to my no-claims discount? 

When you have a comprehensive policy, you can often build up a no-claims discount by not making any claims on your insurance.

However, if you get into an accident and you need to make a claim, you could lose some or all of your no-claims discount. It all depends on the terms and conditions of your policy and if you’ve paid to protect your no-claims bonus. 

Contact your insurer for more details if you’re unsure how it works. 

Read more: How Does a No-Claims Bonus Work?

In summary: What is comprehensive car insurance coverage?

To recap, fully comprehensive car insurance is the broadest level of protection you can take out for your vehicle. Whether you’ve damaged your car, someone else’s car, or injured someone as a result of an accident, you’re covered. 

Searching for a comprehensive car insurance quote? Find out more here.

Also read:
Car insurance: What is a non-fault claim? 
Can I Drive Another Car On My Insurance? DOC Cover Explained 
Do you need specialist insurance for a campervan?