Third party car insurance

Third party car insurance is the minimum legal amount of cover you need to be able to drive a car on roads within the UK. It can be cheaper than more extensive forms of insurance but provides limited protection.

What is third party car insurance?

Put simply, basic third party car insurance only covers injury to people or damage to their property resulting from an accident for which you were to blame. Third party cover is a legal requirement for driving a car in any public place in the UK.

Even if you do not intend to drive a car, it must have a minimum of third party car insurance or be declared as 'off the road' with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) issued by the DVLA. If you have a SORN you must surrender your tax disc and cannot drive or keep the car on any public road.

Third party car insurance covers any liability you may have for injuring another person while driving, including your own passengers. It also covers damage to other people's property caused by an accident for which you were at fault. This property is often another vehicle involved in an accident but it could also be a garden wall, a shop front or anything else that suffers damage as a result of the accident.

If your car is stolen and the thief causes an accident whilst driving it, you will be covered for any injury caused to a third party or any damage to their property. You will not be covered for any damage to your own vehicle though.

Third party car insurance will also cover you for any injury or damage caused to a third party by a caravan or trailer attached to your car.

What if an accident wasn't my fault?

Third party car insurance only covers you for injury or damage caused to a third party arising from an accident that was your fault. If you are injured or your car is damaged in an accident that was not your fault, you must pursue your claim through the other party's insurer.

If you can prove the accident was not your fault (or the other party accepts the blame) their insurers will make a payout to you. Where fault is disputed, the insurance companies involved will take statements from the parties involved and any other evidence available into account before making a decision on who is liable.

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver you will obviously not be able to make a claim through their insurance. If the accident was not your fault you may be able to pursue damages through the courts or claim compensation from the Motor Insurers' Bureau, which runs The Uninsured Drivers Scheme.

What are the benefits of third party insurance?

Third party car insurance meets legal obligations regarding cover and protects you against liabilities incurred by an accident for which you were at fault. The main benefit as compared to other types of insurance is that third party cover is usually seen as a cheaper alternative.

This is not always the case for every individual policy, but third party cover certainly tends to be cheaper than a more comprehensive package offered by the same provider. This may make it an attractive option for those on a budget, drivers whose cars are not worth very much and young or new drivers who have expensive premiums and who haven't had time to build up a no claims bonus. There can be more considerations when it comes to insurance than simply the cheapest available premium though.

What are the drawbacks?

The main drawback is the limited amount of cover provided by third party car insurance. If you are involved in an accident that is deemed to be your fault, third party insurance will not cover you for personal injuries or for damage to your own vehicle or property.

Basic third party insurance will not compensate you if your vehicle is stolen, set on fire or damaged by vandals.

What other types of insurance are there?

Third party, fire and theft

This is the same as the basic third party only cover, except it also pays out if your car is stolen or set on fire. The theft or damage must be reported to the police before you can make a claim of this sort. Making a claim against fire and theft can cause future premiums to rise sharply. Precautions such as alarms and immobilisers can help to reduce the risk of your car being stolen or damaged.

Comprehensive

Comprehensive insurance is also known as fully comprehensive or ‘all risk’ insurance. It provides all the cover of a third party, fire and theft insurance policy but it also protects against injury and damage caused to yourself or your vehicle and property, even if the accident was your fault. You may have to pay an excess charge on any claim but many comprehensive insurance policies have additional benefits. These can include such things as windscreen cover (meaning you don't have to pay an excess charge when fixing or replacing a windscreen), breakdown cover and other benefits, depending on the policy.

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