What is fully comprehensive car insurance?

Car insurance is a must-have legal requirement for anyone who wants to take to the road. But there are different types to suit different drivers, so crucially you need to work out which is best for you. In this short guide we tell you all you need to know about fully comprehensive car insurance – and help you decide if it's the one you should plump for. 

What is comprehensive insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance, as the name suggests, is the most 'comprehensive' type of insurance you can get for a car.

It provides the highest amount of protection of all the different types of car insurance, covering you if have an accident, or if your car is damaged or stolen. Other types of car insurance include:

  • Third party. You can claim if you damage another person's car or injure someone, but these types of policy won't cover your car if it's damaged in an accident.
  • Third party, fire and theft. Offers the same protection as third-party insurance, plus cover if your car is stolen or damaged in a fire.

It's also known as 'fully comprehensive car insurance', and includes as standard all the protection you'd get from third party, fire and theft insurance, in addition to covering you if an accident is your fault (with some exclusions).

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What does fully comprehensive car insurance cover?

You should expect fully comprehensive car insurance to cover most of the costs associated with an accident or damage to your car – even if it's your fault. Typically most comprehensive insurance policies cover:

  • The full cost of repairing damage to your car following an accident (regardless of who's at fault)
  • Damage to other cars
  • Fire or flood damage to your car
  • Theft of your car
  • Injury to other people

However, the name 'fully comprehensive' is slightly misleading, as no insurance policy can cover every scenario. As a general rule, even comprehensive policies are unlikely to cover you for:

  • Theft due to carelessness (for example, if the car was left unlocked)
  • Any damage or injury caused when driving under the influence of drink or drugs
  • Driving with an invalid licence
  • General wear and tear
  • Driving someone else's car (some insurers will allow you to do this as standard, so check policies if you do want this)
  • Someone uninsured driving your car 

What additional cover can I get?

Some insurers might include the following, while others might allow you to add on these extras for a fee: 

  • Breakdown cover
  • Personal injury accident cover
  • Personal belongings cover, for items you regularly leave in the car
  • Legal protection
  • Windscreen cover
  • Wrong fuel cover
  • Courtesy car cover
  • Key cover 
  • No-claims discount protection
  • Transport home after an accident
  • Vandalism cover

Each insurance policy will provide slightly different cover, so it's a good idea to check what's included, especially if you're looking for a particular add-on. 

How much does fully comprehensive car insurance cost?

The cost of your car insurance will depend on your own specific circumstances and the vehicle you drive.

But in terms of how the cost of different types of car insurance compares, fully comprehensive isn't always the most expensive, despite offering the highest level of cover. In fact, it's often the cheapest – but how?

Well, it's because drivers who take out third-party insurance (the lowest amount of cover) tend to be more likely to take risks when driving. Risk-taking leads to more incidents on the road, which means these policies are more expensive for insurance providers than fully comprehensive ones.

However, as we say above, the final cost of your insurance will depend on a range of factors, including your age, driving and conviction history and where you live. For more info on this, see our What can affect my car insurance quote? guide.

And for a rough idea of how costs compare across different car insurance types, here are some average annual prices, collected in December 2023 by Compare The Market:

  • Comprehensive: £950
  • Third party only: £1,990
  • Third party, fire and theft: £1,476

Comprehensive policies often cost the least, but also offer the highest level of cover, so it's usually a win-win.

However, it's still worth getting quotes for different types of cover, and weighing up the cost versus features of each to make sure you're getting the best value option.

Get cheap car insurance quotes

Now you've understood fully comp car insurance, if you need to go and look at quotes, we've a whole host of car insurance top tips and tricks to get cheap cover...

Comprehensive insurance FAQs

Why is comprehensive car insurance cheaper?

Past data suggests that drivers who take out third-party insurance (the lowest amount of cover) are more likely to take risks on the road – which means these policies can be more expensive for insurance providers than fully comprehensive (despite offering more protection), and this cost is passed on to customers.

Can I drive any car if I have fully comprehensive cover?

Having fully comprehensive car insurance does not always cover you if you want to drive a different car, so always check your insurance certificate, or with the insurer, to see if you have this extension. If you want to drive someone else's car, or want someone else to drive yours, adding a named driver or having temporary car insurance could offer cost-effective cover.

Does fully comprehensive car insurance cover other people to drive my car?

If the other driver has their own fully comprehensive car insurance, it does not always give them the cover to drive your car, so they would need to check their insurance certificate to see if they have this extension. If you want someone else to drive your car, adding a named driver or temporary car insurance could offer cost-effective cover, and also get the fully comprehensive cover protection.

What's the difference between comprehensive and fully comprehensive car insurance?

There's no difference between comprehensive and fully comprehensive car insurance – they're just slightly different names for exactly the same type of policy. 

Can I get fully comp cover if I'm a young driver?

Young drivers can usually take out the same car insurance policies as older drivers as long as they, and their car, meet the eligibility criteria – however, fully comprehensive insurance will likely be much more expensive for those under 25 years old. 

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