Types of car insurance

Fully comprehensive and third-party cover explained

Every driver must have a valid car insurance policy for the car they're driving – that part's clear. Yet there are three main types of car insurance to choose from, which can complicate your decision. This short guide explains the differences so you can decide which is best for you. 

Who's this guide for? Anyone wanting to learn about the different types of car insurance.

Not what you want? If you're looking for more specific cover, or want to know how to make a claim...
Making a claim on your car insurance | Learner drivers' insurance | Cheap classic car insurance

What are the different types of car insurance?

Car insurance is a legal requirement, so all drivers must have a policy in place. Yet the type of car insurance you opt for is down to you.

There are many factors that will affect how much you pay for your policy, and our full guide to cheap car insurance covers them in more detail. But if you're looking for a quick guide that explains the three main types of car insurance then read on – we've summarised them below...

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 by an accident you caused
You're injured by an accident you caused

Third-party insurance

Third party insurance is the most basic level of cover. 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. However, you won't be able to claim for any repairs to, or the replacement of, your own car – or for any injury caused to yourself.

Third-party, fire and theft insurance


Third-party, fire and theft provides mid-level cover – more than third-party only, less than fully comprehensive. It includes the third-party cover that's mentioned above, plus...

You'll be covered for the cost of repairing or replacing your car if it's damaged by fire, as well as the cost of replacing your car if it's stolen and can't be recovered, including the cost of repairing damage to your car after an attempted theft.

Some policies will also cover the cost of certain personal belongings being stolen or damaged (for example, a radio or sat-nav). Read more about third-party, fire and theft insurance.

  • What's not covered?

    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

Fully comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive cover, as the name suggests, is the most 'comprehensive' type of insurance you can get. You get third-party, fire and theft cover as above, plus if you caused an accident you can claim for costs of repair or replacing your car. Most comprehensive insurance policies cover:

  • The full cost of repairing damage to your car after 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

Read more about fully comprehensive insurance.

  • What's not covered?

    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 

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