Car insurance policy features

Car insurance policy features

Your car insurance policy can come with other features to bolster your coverage – some of these will be included as standard, while for others you may have pay extra. Here’s a rundown of what each offers, why you might need them, and how they could affect your premiums.

If the policy feature you want isn’t included as standard, it might be referred to as an optional extra – and whether or not it’s worth having will depend on you.

In some cases you might not need extra cover – for example, if you don’t generally keep your things in you car then it’s unlikely you’ll need personal belongings cover. However if you think you might be at risk of losing your keys, an few quid extra a year for car key cover might sound better than paying between £200 and £400 for a new set.

Car insurance providers won’t always offer the same levels of cover, but in general you should be able to find policies for:

Breakdown cover

Breakdown cover

Personal accident cover

Personal accident cover

Motor legal protection

Motor legal protection

Personal belongings cover

Personal belongings cover

Windscreen cover

Windscreen cover

Wrong fuel cover

Wrong fuel cover

Car keys cover

Car keys cover

No claims discount

No claims discount cover

Breakdown cover can be a life-saver if your car packs it in mid-journey – it pays out for the cost of roadside assistance so you won’t be left stranded because of a broken down vehicle. You might need it if your car battery dies or if you puncture a tyre.

How does breakdown cover work?

You can take out either a policy that:

  • Applies to you as an individual, so you’ll be covered as a driver or passenger in any car so long as it meets the requirements – up to four people registered at the same address can be covered by a single policy
  • Applies to up to four vehicles so long as they’re registered at the same address 

What will I be covered for?

When you compare breakdown policies, you’ll generally be able to choose from three levels of cover:

Local cover

With local cover a mechanic will be called out to repair your vehicle, and if they can’t they’ll tow it to a local garage

National cover

Is similar to local cover, except you’ll be able to choose any location across the UK to be towed back to

European cover

This extends your protection to when you’re driving in mainland Europe – though you should check beforehand to see in which countries it applies

You can also add the following optional features to your policy:

Home start

Home start breakdown covers you if your car breaks down at home or close by

Onward travel

Onward travel policies add extra cover for courtesy vehicles, overnight accommodation and alternative travel arrangements to help you continue your journey

What is courtesy car cover?

Courtesy car cover gives you access to a temporary replacement vehicle while yours is being repaired. It may come as standard with your car insurance policy, or you may have to take it out as an optional extra – it may also be part of your breakdown cover.

Between January and March 2020, 94% of the cheapest fully comprehensive car insurance policies searched for by MoneySuperMarket customers included courtesy car cover as standard. However this went down to 31% for third-party, fire and theft policies, and only 18% of third-party only policies*.

*Based on MoneySuperMarket data, accurate as of May 2020.

Is breakdown cover worth it?

Breakdown cover might already be included in your policy, but if you’re given the choice of adding it as an extra that otherwise wouldn’t be included, then it’s worth weighing up the benefits.

The average cost of a fully comprehensive car insurance policy that included breakdown cover as standard was £597 a year – and the average cost of adding it as an extra to fully comprehensive policies that didn’t have it as standard was £39 a year.*

But without breakdown cover, and depending on how serious the breakdown is, you could be faced with the following costs:

  • A mechanic callout to your location, which can be in the region of £40 to £50 
  • A tow truck to take your car to a garage if it can’t be repaired on the road, which is usually charged by the mile 
  • Overnight storage if there are no garages open, which often comes up to £30-a-night

Being towed from a motorway can cost even more than this, up to £250 if you’re on the hard shoulder.

The in-between option would be to take out instant breakdown cover. In this case you’ll be fully covered as any other customer would be, but you’d have to pay an extra fee – often between £50 and £100.

*Based on MoneySuperMarket data, accurate as of May 2020.

Personal accident cover as part of your car insurance policy adds financial protection for you and your dependants if you’re seriously or fatally injured as a result of a road accident. It won’t offer protection for your car, but if you’re injured or killed the policy will pay out a lump sum to you or your family.

How much will a personal accident policy pay out?

The amount your personal accident coverage will pay out depends on the level of cover you take out and the severity of the injury. For typical cover included as standard in fully comprehensive policies the pay out could be in the region of £5,000 upon death, but you’ll usually be given the option to add more.

Just keep in mind that the more cover you want, the higher your premiums are likely to be.

Is personal accident cover worth it?

There can be no real substitute for the serious losses that can occur as a result of a car accident, but a personal accident policy can offer the peace of mind that, if you need to, you can use the pay-out to help with the cost of:

Tick  Corrective surgery

Tick  Disablement

Tick  Other medical expenses

Tick  Income loss

Tick  Funerals

When you run a quote through MoneySuperMarket you’ll be able to see the cheapest policies available that meet your requirements – and fortunately 94% of these fully comprehensive policies included personal accident cover as standard.*

For those that didn’t offer it as standard, the average cost of adding it to their fully comprehensive car insurance policy was £15 a year.


 *Based on MoneySuperMarket data, accurate as of May 2020.

Motor legal protection, also known as legal expenses cover, pays for legal costs you might have to pay if you’re involved in a car accident. This includes the cost of hiring a solicitor and any fees involved in making your claim – but it won’t include any losses you’re claiming for, just the cost of claiming for those losses in court.

When would I need legal cover?

If you’re involved in a car accident, you can use the courts to recoup losses that aren’t covered by your car insurance policy – for example:

Excess payments

Excess payments

As well as other claim costs

Medical costs

Medical costs

If you or a passenger are injured

Lost income

Lost income

If you’re unable to work as a result of the accident

Transport costs

Transport costs

If you cannot use your car

How much legal cover do I need?

Most policies offer up to £100,000 in legal protection, however if you need more you may be able to request additional cover from your insurer.

Will I be covered if another driver makes a claim against me?

You should also be covered for legal expenses if another driver takes you to court over a car insurance claim.

Will my insurer always cover my legal costs?

Your insurer might refuse to pay out in certain situations, including:

  • If they don’t think you’ll win the case
  • If you’ve left it too long to make a claim
  • If the legal fees required are too expensive compared to the amount you’re claiming for

Is motor legal protection worth it?

Motor legal protection isn’t a mandatory part of car insurance, but in the event that you do need to take a claim to court it’s likely to save you a fair amount of money. It usually cost between £20 and £30 extra a year if it’s not already included already – between January and March 2020 it cost £28 to add legal cover to fully comprehensive car insurance policy.*

What you should be aware of is that you might have it in place already – it can sometimes be included as part of home insurance policies or packaged bank accounts. Your employer or trade union may offer it, and if you’re a driver on someone else’s car insurance policy they may have it in place.

 *Based on MoneySuperMarket data, accurate as of May 2020.

Windscreen cover is a feature you can add to your car insurance policy that lets you claim for a damaged windscreen and all other glass windows on your car without having to pay your full excess amount. It can also protect your no-claims bonus.

How does windscreen cover work?

If your windscreen or any other glass window on your car becomes damaged, you’ll be able to claim for the cost of repairs or replacements as needed. Your insurer will usually have an emergency number you can call for repairs when you need them.

If you don’t have windscreen cover it’s likely your policy will still pay out for windscreen damage repairs or replacements – but you’ll have to pay the full excess amount and you may also lose your no-claims bonus.

Will my windscreen need repairs or a replacement?

Whether you’ll need a repair or a total replacement will depend on the extent of the damage – in most cases you’ll be able to avoid a total replacement if:

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The windscreen chip or crack is shorter than 28mm

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The chip or crack is shorter than 10mm if it’s in the driver’s field of view

Tick

The chip or crack is further than 6cm from the edge of the window

Is windscreen cover worth it?

Windscreen damage is a common problem and while they may seem insignificant at first they can quickly become more serious – and expensive to fix. The cost of a single chip repair can cost £167.25, according to Autoglass, and this could be much more if the windscreen needs to be replaced.*

Adding windscreen cover to your policy usually costs around £20 to £30 for the year, and factoring in the reduced excess means it could result in a substantial saving if you ever need it.

*According to Autoglass, accurate as of May 2020

Personal belongings cover is the part of your car insurance policy that protects your personal items when you leave them in your car. 

This can include electronics, clothing and a variety of other belongings – so long as they aren’t kept out in the open with your car unlocked.

What does personal belongings cover protect me against?

Personal belongings cover lets you claim on your car insurance policy if any of your things are stolen or damaged while they’re in your car. Many fully comprehensive policies offer up to £1,000 in cover, though you may be able to increase that cap if you’re willing to pay more in premiums.

Cover might be limited to a few hundred pounds per specific item however, so you’ll need to specify any valuables such as sporting equipment, tools or electronics– and likely also pay more to cover.

Do I need personal belongings cover?

It will largely depend on you and how you use your car. If you don’t tend to keep valuables in there then it’s unlikely you’ll really need personal belongings cover. 

However if you keep things like a sat-nav, a CD collection or even a pair of sunnies in your glove compartment then you might find it’s worth taking out the extra protection.

On average, drivers carry around £308 worth of personal belongings in their car, and the most common items included smartphones (44%), handbags (29%) and satnavs (22%).*


*According to a survey of 2,003 UK adults, of which 1,469 are drivers. Data collected by Opinium in October 2019.


Misfuelling cover gives you financial protection should you accidentally fill your car with the wrong fuel. It can happen, and it’s more common than you think - It’s more common than you think, too – the AA estimate that around 150,000 people put the wrong fuel into their car every year.* 

*According to data from The AA, accurate as of September 2018 

What happens if I fill my car with the wrong fuel?

If you’ve filled your car with the wrong fuel and you realise before driving anywhere – don’t drive anywhere. Don’t start the car either, just remove your car keys and tell an attendant at the petrol station.

If the wrong fuel stays in the fuel tank this can be drained, but if you drive or even just start the engine then the fuel will get into other parts of the car – where it can do more damage.

If you’re already on the road and you sense something is wrong, stop as soon as you can and call for assistance. If you have misfuelling cover or breakdown cover you should call your provider and inform them of the situation.

If you have a diesel car and you’ve used petrol instead this can cause significant damage, and while putting diesel in a petrol car can still cause harm it isn’t quite as bad.

What does misfuelling cover protect me against?

If your car insurance policy includes cover for misfuelling, it should usually protect you against the cost of:

  • Draining and cleaning your fuel tank
  • The wrong fuel itself – though you might only be able to claim for some of the fuel cost

Is misfuelling cover worth it?

The cost of misfuelling your car will vary depending on a number of factors, including the amount of fuel you’ve topped up, how far you’ve driven (if at all), and the type of car you have. 

If it’s just a case of draining and cleaning the fuel tank, you could still be looking at a charge of between £150 and £250 for a professional service. However if you’ve tried to start the car or drive anywhere the cost could be much higher – possibly into the thousands.

Additionally if you have a diesel car and you’ve accidentally used petrol this can cause severe and expensive damage to your vehicle.

But misfuelling cover isn’t commonly included in car insurance policies, even with fully comprehensive cover. You’ll likely need to pay a little extra on top of your premiums, which is probably easier than shelling out a few hundred should you ever have to.

Car key cover pays out for the cost of replacing your car keys if they’re lost, damaged or stolen. Modern car keys often use complex electronics and as such they can be much more expensive to replace – and you might even need to get your car’s locks changed.

What does car key cover protect me against?

The level of cover you get will depend on your provider and the policies they offer, but you should look for the following features:

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Tick

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Is car key cover worth it?

Key car cover could be a useful addition to your car insurance policy if it’s not included as standard – you’ll generally pay around £20 a year extra. 

Compared to the cost of getting a new set of keys from your car dealer, which could be in the region of £150 to £300, this won’t seem like a lot. It could cost even more depending on the type of car you have, and whether or not the locks need replacing.

If the keys are lost in your home then you probably won’t need to replace the locks, but if the keys are stolen or lost somewhere outside your home then this is also a factor. Replacement locks can cost between £270 (for a Ford Transit) to £1,800 (for a Honda Civic).*

However if you’re trying to keep your car insurance policy as lean as possible you might consider opting out of this cover if you have the option – just try to be extra careful with your keys.


*According to data provided by Keycare, accurate as of May 2020 

No-claims discount cover protects any discounts you may receive on your car insurance premiums as a result of not having made a claim in a while, if you ever do have to make a claim.

What is a no-claims discount?

You earn a no-claims discount on your car insurance when you haven’t made a claim on your policy in a while – the longer you go without claiming, the more you could save on your premiums. 

Depending on your provider, you may be able to transfer a no-claims discount you’ve earned on a company car you drive (if it’s only you that drives it) as well as any bonuses you might’ve accrued abroad.

You should be able to transfer your existing no-claims discount if you change car insurance providers – but you’ll likely need proof of your claim history. You can usually get this from your provider, but it may also be spelled out on any renewal or cancellation paperwork you have.

How does no-claims discount cover work?

If you add protection for your no-claims discount on your car insurance policy, you’ll be able to make a set number of claims in a year without losing your discount. 

Is no-claims discount cover worth it?

A no-claims discount can help you save a fair amount on your car insurance premiums – between January and March 2020, drivers who had gone three years without claiming paid on average over £200 less for their car insurance compared to those with only one year of no-claims.*

You might benefit from protecting this discount if you’ve gone a few years without claiming as the fee you’d pay for the extra cover is unlikely to be close to the savings you’d get as a result.

 *Based on fully comprehensive car insurance policies with one driver holding a full UK driver’s licence, accurate as of May 2020.

Comparing car insurance quotes with MoneySuperMarket is a quick and easy way to find cover for your vehicle – whether you’re looking for policy with all the bells and whistles or something stripped down to cover your needs. Just tell us a little about yourself, your car and the cover you need, and we’ll search the market for a list of quotes tailored to your requirements.

You’ll be able to compare policies by the overall monthly and annual cost, the cover you’ll get and the excess you’ll need to pay to make a claim. Once you’ve found the deal you want, just click through to the provider’s website to finalise your purchase.

As with any kind of insurance, the cheapest option isn’t always the best. We recommend you try to balance the cover you’ll get with the overall cost of your policy, so you don’t end up over- or under-insuring yourself.

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