Third party, fire and theft insurance explained

Help with this mid-level car insurance

Third party, fire and theft insurance provides mid-level cover for your car. It's perfect for some, but for others it can end up more expensive than fully comprehensive – despite offering less protection. In this short guide we look at what third party, fire and theft covers, the pros and cons, plus how to find the right policy for you. 

What does third party, fire and theft car insurance cover?

Third party, fire and theft provides mid-level cover – more than third-party only, less than fully comprehensive. The clue to what cover you'll get is included in the name:

  • Third party. You'll be covered for the cost of repairs to damage to another person's vehicle or property (the 'third party'), plus any medical bills or injury compensation costs if someone was hurt in the accident. 
  • Fire. You'll be covered for the cost of repairing or replacing your car if it's damaged by fire.
  • Theft. You'll be covered for the cost of replacing your car if it's stolen and can't be recovered, or the cost of repairing damage to your car after an attempted theft (for example, a broken door handle). Some policies will also cover the cost of certain personal belongings such as a radio or sat-nav being stolen or damaged. 

What's not covered?

The most important point to remember is: if you have a third party, fire and theft policy, your insurance provider WON'T pay out if your car is damaged in an accident. However, if you're in an accident that is someone else's fault, their insurance should cover the cost of repairs. 

You also won't be covered for the following:

  • Damage to your personal possessions in a crash
  • Repair or replacement costs following 'theft due to carelessness' (for example, if the car is left unlocked)
  • Medical costs if you're injured in an accident

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What's the difference between third party, third party, fire and theft, and fully comprehensive insurance?

If you're weighing up a third party, fire and theft policy versus a fully comprehensive one  or just third party on its own  it's important to know the differences in what you'll get. 

This table lays out what's covered and what's not with the three main types of car insurance policy. 

Types of car insurance compared

Reason to claim Type of policy and what it typically covers
Third party Third party, fire and theft Fully comprehensive
You cause damage to another person's car or property
You injure another person
Your car is damaged due to fire
Your car is stolen
Your car is damaged in an accident you caused
You're injured in an accident you caused

Is third party, fire and theft the right insurance policy for you?

It's important to weigh up the cost of the policy, the cover that you get AND how much it would cost you to pay for what isn't covered, should the worst happen. Third party, fire and theft might be the best policy for you if any of the following apply:

  • Your car costs little to repair, and it's easy to get spare parts
  • Your car isn't worth much, and you can afford to replace it 
  • You're confident doing repairs yourself 
  • You don't drive very often 

Important. Many drivers will actually pay less for policies that provide more cover, so it's crucial to compare the costs of different levels of cover – our Compare+ Car Insurance tool can help.

How much does third party, fire and theft insurance cost?

As mid-level cover, third party, fire and theft policies tend not to be the cheapest type of car insurance, but also not the most expensive either. According to Compare The Market, the average cost of a third party, fire and theft policy is £1,476 a year.

However, what you pay is likely to be quite different from this average. The prices of insurance policies vary hugely, depending on the personal circumstances of the driver applying – with some paying less and some paying more. The total cost of your insurance policy will depend on: 

  • Your age
  • Driving and conviction history
  • The type of car you drive
  • Your job
  • Where you live

Insurance providers use this information to assess how risky it will be to insure you, based on the data they've collected about similar drivers in the past. For more info on this, see our What can affect my car insurance quote? guide.

However, bear in mind that sometimes a fully comprehensive policy – which gives the greatest level of protection – may actually be cheaper than a third party, fire and theft policy. That's because in the past, drivers who have taken out third party cover have tended to be higher risk, and so more likely to make a claim, costing more to the insurance provider. So it's crucial to compare the costs of different levels of cover – here, our Compare+ Car Insurance tool can help.

Get cheap car insurance quotes

Now you've understood third party, fire and theft 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. Your options...

FAQs

Can I get a no-claims discount with third party, fire and theft insurance?

Yes, most policies let you build up a no-claims discount regardless of the level of cover you've opted for. If you're unsure, check with the insurance provider for the specific terms and conditions attached to the policy. 

Does third party, fire and theft cover driving abroad?

Most car insurance policies cover driving in the European Union as standard. However, you may only be covered at third party level, even if you have a third party, fire and theft or even a comprehensive insurance policy. 

Why is third party, fire and theft more expensive?

Past data suggests that drivers who take out lower levels of coverage are more likely to take risks when driving – 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.
 

What is third party damage?

'Third party damage' is damage to someone else's property – usually their car, but it could also include their home or garden (if you veered off the road, for example). You'll be covered for the costs of repairing this damage with third party, fire and theft insurance. 

You may also be covered for the cost of paying medical bills and compensation if you injure someone while driving. 

Does third party, fire and theft cover recovery?

Generally, no, third party, fire and theft insurance doesn't cover recovery as standard, meaning you'll usually have to pay for your car to be collected if you're unable to drive it after an accident. 

However, if the accident was clearly someone else's fault, their insurance should cover the cost, so you may be more confident in getting your car recovered and recouping the cost later. 

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