Does your insurer offer a courtesy car after a bump?

Car crash on motorway in dark coloured car

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Originally published February 19th 2016

If you’re involved in an accident and your car has to go in for repairs, you probably won’t want to be forking out for taxis or relying on public transport while your motor is off the road.

But can you be sure your fully comprehensive policy will provide you with a courtesy car? Or does your policy require you to pay extra on top of your premium to ensure you get a replacement vehicle?

What is a courtesy car?

A courtesy car is a vehicle provided by a garage or repair shop for use while your car is being repaired. A courtesy car may be provided as standard on your car insurance policy, or you may need to purchase it as an optional extra.

Policy details

As with all things insurance, the provision of a courtesy vehicle varies from insurer to insurer, with it’s important to check your policy to make sure you have exactly the cover you’re after – and there are no nasty surprises lurking in the wings when you have an accident.

To highlight how courtesy car provision can vary between insurers, and why it’s important to check the terms and conditions, we have a tale of two policies.

Mixed experience

The first is from Clare Francis, our former editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, who was told the cover she got as standard on her Post Office policy would only provide her with a courtesy car “if the garage has got one in” – which means some motorists could be in for an unpleasant surprise if they’re expecting a replacement vehicle.

Our second tale comes from a customer who, while insured with Direct Line, was given a car of comparable size to her own when it went in for repairs, as per the terms of its Guaranteed Hire Car Plus cover – Direct Line does not provide a courtesy car as standard.The car she was given while her Mercedes in for repairs was a top-of-the range Jaguar, which she thought was a little excessive for a hire car, but Direct Line’s Guaranteed Hire Car Plus cover stipulates drivers will be given a comparable vehicle while theirs is being repaired.

If you don’t think you’ll need this, there’s the cheaper Guaranteed Car Hire option, which entitles you to a small, 1000cc car while yours gets fixed. Always check the details to make sure you’re not paying for extra cover you don’t need or want.

Industry standard?

So, is there an industry standard for courtesy car provision, or is it down to the discretion of individual insurers? We asked the industry trade body, the Association of British Insurers (ABI), where it stands on the matter. It said:

  • If you are involved in an accident and no other driver is involved, then whether or not you are entitled under your own motor policy to a courtesy car while yours is being repaired will be down the provisions of your policy.
  • If you are involved in motor crash with another driver, but you are at fault, you will not be able to claim against the other driver for repair, or replacement of your vehicle. If you claim on your motor policy then the above applies.
  • However, if involved in accident with another driver and they are at fault then you can claim against their insurer for courtesy car while yours is off the road. But your claim must be reasonable in that it must be for a similar type vehicle as yours.

In short then, it’s more or less down to the insurer.

The only rule that applies across the board is that if you’re at fault in a crash with another driver, you must claim on your own policy and can’t claim off the other driver’s policy – which stands to reason.

So just how much does courtesy car provision vary from insurer to insurer? We checked out some policy outlines from some of the UK’s biggest insurers to find out.

What the insurers say – a market selection…

Aviva/Quote Me Happy

A courtesy car is standard with Quote Me Happy and is an additional cover option with its parent company, Aviva. With both brands, you can claim more than once over the term of the policy.

This means, under the terms of a standard Quote Me Happy policy, or under the additional cover option offered by Aviva, you will be given a courtesy car for the duration of the repairs being carried out, so long as these are being carried out by an approved repairer and you were not at fault for the accident.

Aviva’s courtesy car option will give you a small, 1 litre hatchback for the duration of the repairs unless you pay for ‘enhanced courtesy’, in which case you’ll get a 1.6 litre 5-door model.

Quote Me Happy’s standard cover will give you a courtesy car if yours is damaged in an accident and you use its approved repair network. 

If you choose the additional car hire option, you’ll get hire car if car is stolen (insurers generally don’t offer courtesy cars for stolen vehicles) or written off and can keep car for 21 days or until settlement cheque is sent.

Carrot

Subject to availability, a free courtesy car will be provided to you for the duration of any repairs, provided your car is repaired by one of its approved repair centres.

Churchill

A courtesy car is offered as part of standard fully comprehensive and third party fire & theft (TPFT) cover if car is fire damaged and repaired by an approved garage.

For an extra premium you can take out Guaranteed Car Hire and Guaranteed Car Hire Plus, both of which offer a courtesy car in the event of fire damage, accident damage, damage as a result of theft, if car is stolen or written off or if the car is awaiting repair. It will also provide a courtesy car if you use your own garage for any repairs.

Guaranteed Car Hire provides a car for a maximum of 14 consecutive days, Guaranteed Car Hire Plus provides a car for a maximum of 21 consecutive days.

Churchill fully comprehensive customers will receive a courtesy car as standard no matter how many claims are made or if there are multiple claims in one year.

Direct Line

No courtesy car as standard, but you can take out one of two optional extras for courtesy car provision. Guaranteed Hire Car: a hire car will be supplied for up to 14 consecutive days.

The vehicle will be a small 1000cc hatchback car or similar and is available to customers who have comprehensive policies.

Guaranteed Hire Car Plus: a hire car will be supplied for up to 21 consecutive days. The vehicle will be of a similar physical size to your own and this is available to customers who have comprehensive policies.

Esure

A free courtesy car is provided while your car is being repaired by one of its recommended repairers.

A courtesy car is not available if your car is stolen or if it is considered to be a total loss or if your policy is cancelled or lapses during the period of repair.

A courtesy car is standard and provided for each valid claim a customer makes. Esure will not limit the number of claims for a courtesy car while the car on cover is being repaired.

1st Central

A courtesy car will be provided if your vehicle is being repaired by one of the insurers’ approved repairers.

A courtesy car will not be provided if your car has been stolen, is beyond economic repair or if you choose a repairer not on the insurer’s approved panel.

The insurer is unable to guarantee a courtesy car for owners of cars originally produced for sale outside the European Union.

Hastings

Providing you use Hastings’s appointed approved repairer, a courtesy car will be provided for the duration of the repairs.

This is guaranteed and provided as standard for comprehensive cover.

The type of car provided is what is classed as a Class A courtesy car – which is a standardsmallhatchback (usually a 3-door, 1 litre vehicle such as a Nissan Micra or Ford KA). There are no limits on the number of claims you can make within a policy year or the number of times a courtesy car will be supplied.

LV=

Courtesy cars are an optional extra for LV= car insurance customers and cost £19.90 a year.

If a customer does choose to include a courtesy car on their policy, they won’t be restricted to how many times the firmj will provide a courtesy car.

For example, a customer can have multiple claims in a year and still receive a courtesy car on each occasion.

After loss or damage, a small hatchback under 1200cc will be provided if the repairs are carried out by its Selected Repairer Service.

This will be provided for up to 14 days or until 4 days after payment of the claim has been issued, whichever is soonest, if your car is a total loss and cannot be driven safely, or is stolen and not recovered.

More Th>n

If you have comprehensive cover, you’ll receive a courtesy car as standard if your car needs repairs following an accident and you use a recommended repairer (excluding total loss).

All More Th>n customers who have fully comprehensive insurance get a courtesy car if they need it, and there’s no restrictions on the amount of times it is provided.

It says that, “If a customer needs a courtesy car, they should have one.”

Post Office

Use of a courtesy car is offered while yours is being repaired by one of its approved repairers following an accident covered by the policy.

As Clare Francis discovered, courtesy cars are subject to availability and the supplying garage’s terms and conditions.

Sheila’s Wheels

A free courtesy car will be provided while your car is being repaired by the firm’s recommended repairers under a valid claim.All you pay for is the fuel.

A courtesy car is not available if your car is stolen or is considered to be a total loss. An additional car hire benefit means you will be given a courtesy car if your car is written off or stolen, up to a maximum of 21 days.

Swiftcover

Fully comprehensive cover provides alternative car for maximum of 14 or 21 consecutive days in any one instance and a maximum of 21 or 28 days in any one policy year, depending upon the level of cover chosen.

This applies either while car is being repaired because of any damage following a claim or until your claim is settled if your own car is affected by fire, theft or is written off.

If a courtesy car can’t be provided, the firm will repay your alternative travelling costs up to a maximum of £15 a day.

TPFT provides an alternative car until the claim is settled if your car is affected by fire or theft for maximum of 14 or 21 consecutive days in any one instance and a maximum of 21 or 28 days in any one policy year, depending upon the level of cover chosen.

Choose the right cover

As you can see, each insurer has its own policy on the provision of courtesy cars and most will not provide a replacement vehicle if yours is stolen or written off completely. So, as ever, the message is to shop around to make sure you get the exact cover you’re after.

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