All you need to know about fully comprehensive car insurance


Having a car insurance policy in place is a legal requirement in the UK if you drive your vehicle on roads and in public places. But there are different types of cover to choose from, with fully comprehensive car insurance policies offering the highest level of protection.

Here we take a look at what fully comprehensive car insurance is.

What is fully comprehensive car insurance?

Fully comprehensive car insurance (also known simply as comprehensive car insurance) covers damage to your vehicle even if an accident is your fault. It can also compensate other drivers for any damage caused to their property as well as injury compensation for yourself and others, where relevant.

It will also cover damage to your vehicle caused by fire, as well as theft.

Compared to other types of car insurance policy, it offers the highest level of protection, but always compare individual policies to find a level of cover you feel comfortable with.

What other types of policy are available?

As well as fully comprehensive car insurance, the other main types of car insurance are:

  • third-party insurance – this covers damage you cause to other people’s property and compensation for injury to others, including your passengers. You will need to pay for any damage to your own vehicle yourself, and you would not receive anything towards medical costs

  • third-party fire and theft – this covers the same as third-party insurance plus damage to your own car if it is stolen or damaged in a fire.

What does fully comprehensive car insurance cover?

While individual policies will vary, many fully comprehensive car insurance policies will include cover for:

  • damage to the property of others

  • damage caused by fire, theft or vandalism

  • personal injuries following an accident that was your fault – for you, your passengers and other third parties

  • accidental damage

  • damage or theft of your vehicle’s contents.

Some policies may also include the following extras, or you may be able to add them on for a charge:

  • windscreen cover

  • courtesy car while yours is being repaired

  • legal protection

  • breakdown cover

  • lost keys cover

  • personal belongings cover

  • no claims discount protection.

As policies will vary, pay close attention to the T&Cs to make sure the elements that are important to you are included to prevent any surprises should you need to make a claim.

Is there anything I should look out for on a policy?

While fully comprehensive motor insurance will offer you a high level of protection, there will still be exclusions. Some common ones to look out for include:

  • anyone other than a ‘named driver’ on your policy driving your car. Driving Other Cars cover used to be more commonly included on policies but is rarer now. If it is included, check for exclusions, such as drivers under the age of 25

  • accidents when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • claims due to wear and tear

  • putting the wrong fuel into your vehicle

  • if you or another named driver are driving without a valid driving licence

  • not taking adequate care of your vehicle or possessions – for example, leaving a window open.

You should also honestly answer what you use your car for – leisure and commuting or business – to ensure you have the correct level of cover in place.

How much does fully comprehensive car insurance cost?

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the average price paid for comprehensive motor insurance in 2020 was £465, down 1% on the price in 2019 and at its lowest level since 2016.

However, the premium you’ll be quoted for fully comprehensive car insurance will depend on a number of factors including your age, which car you have, your annual mileage, any driving convictions, where you live, where you park at night, and your claims history.

And while you may assume that fully comprehensive car insurance will be the most expensive insurance type as it offers more protection, this may not be the case for many drivers, and it may actually cost less (because risky drivers always used to plump for third-party cover, and insurers responded by making it more expensive).

So, it’s worth comparing all of your options so you feel comfortable with the level of cover you’ve chosen.

How can I reduce the cost of fully comprehensive car insurance?

The type of vehicle you have can alter the price you are quoted for fully comprehensive motor insurance with cars with smaller engines generally costing less to insure.

Whatever vehicle you have, you could also potentially lower your premium by adding security measures such as an immobiliser or parking your vehicle in a more secure place overnight, such as in a garage or on a drive.

The amount you drive can also affect what you pay for your car insurance, so consider lowering your annual mileage by taking steps such as lift-sharing.

If you are seen as a high-risk proposition – if you are a new or younger driver, for example – you may want to consider a black box insurance policy (also known as telematics insurance).

This is where a device is fitted into your car to monitor your driving, with drivers who are deemed as safe being rewarded through lower premiums.

If you agree to a higher excess (this is the amount you’ll need to pay towards a claim) the premium you are quoted for a policy may also reduce.

With motor insurance, there is usually a voluntary excess that you agree to as well as a compulsory excess set by your insurer. Think carefully before agreeing to a high excess, though, as, if you couldn’t afford to pay it in the event of a claim, it’s a false economy.

Paying your premium annually rather than monthly often works out as a cheaper option overall as you may be charged interest to pay monthly.