Third party vs comprehensive car insurance: which is best for you?

If you’re looking for cheap car insurance, can help you find a policy in a matter of minutes. But with a choice of three levels of cover, how do you choose what’s right for you? To help you make an informed decision that’ll give you good value for money, here’s what to consider.

What is third party insurance?

There are two types of third party policy:

Third party only (TPO)

Third party only is the minimum level of cover you can have by law in the UK. Policies cover damage you cause to other people and their property. For example, if you accidentally hit the back of someone’s car or drove into someone’s front fence. As long as your policy was up to date, your insurer would pay for any repairs.

TPO also covers the cost of any injury claims made against you. This includes any passengers in your car at the time you have the accident.

Crucially, it’s important to know that TPO doesn’t pay to repair your car if you cause an accident. TPO also won’t compensate you for any injuries you sustain.

Third party, fire and theft (TPFT)

The second type of third party cover is third party, fire and theft (TPFT). This will include everything covered by TPO but will also compensate you if your car is damaged by fire or is stolen.

What is comprehensive insurance?

Also called ‘comp’ or ‘fully comp’, comprehensive cover is the highest level of car insurance you can buy.

Policies provide you with third party, fire and theft cover and will also pay to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged in an accident you cause.

Comp cover can also compensate you if your car is damaged but you don’t know who the perpetrator was. For example, if your wing mirror was clipped and broken by a passing car or if someone vandalised it in a car park.

Can you add extra features to a car insurance policy?

Regardless of what level of cover you choose, you’ll usually be offered a range of features that can be added on for an extra cost, for example:

  • Breakdown cover
  • Glass and windscreen cover
  • Courtesy car
  • Key cover for lost or stolen keys
  • Misfuelling cover
  • Legal expenses

It’s worth knowing that some features may automatically be included in comprehensive policies as standard but this will depend on the insurer and the terms set out in your plan.

Is comprehensive car cover more expensive than third party?

Comp cover can be more expensive than third party policies but cost really comes down to a number of factors.

As a general rule, third party policies (and in particular TPO) tend to cost more than comprehensive policies, even though fully comp policies offer greater cover. That might seem confusing but it’s because statistics show third party policyholders make more claims compared to those with comprehensive insurance. In order to meet these costs and reflect the number of claims, insurers have adjusted third party premiums over the years to reflect this.

Also, bear in mind that your premium will be affected by factors, including your age, address, job and of course, the car you drive.

Which is better, third party or comprehensive car insurance?

This comes down to personal preference and your circumstances. If your car is new or nearly new and likely to be expensive to repair or replace, comprehensive cover can work out more cost effective if you have an accident and make a claim. If you only had TPO cover, you’d have to pay for your own repairs.

On the other hand, if your car is quite old and low in value, or you’re able to carry out repairs yourself, third party policies could work out the better option in terms of cost.

Nevertheless, don’t forget that fully comp policies sometimes include other features like a courtesy car which could prove invaluable if you rely on your car for work. Not only that, if you choose a basic TPO policy and then add lots of other features to bring it up to the level you want, it can actually end up considerably more expensive than some comprehensive policies.

The only way to really ensure you get the best value for money is to shop around and compare quotes before making assumptions about which types of policy might be the cheapest.

At, you can compare dozens of quotes from leading UK insurers quickly and easily. Plus, with their Cheapest Price Guarantee*, you can be confident about getting great value too.

 *T&Cs apply. See for details.

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