Getting behind the wheel in the UK means to make sure you’re covered with our complete guide to car insurance .
Vehicle insurance in the UK is compulsory for drivers and is one of a number of insurance policies you should take out in the UK.
Looking for a great deal on car insurance?
Then head to Confused.com. Confused.com is one of the UK’s leading price comparison websites, comparing the country’s biggest insurers in seconds to get you the right cover for your vehicle. Get the best value-for-money coverage with Confused.com.
Confused.comGet a quote today
Introduction to UK car insurance
Insurance in the UK is compulsory. The law states that you must insure all vehicles if you drive them or keep them in public places to at least the level of third-party liability. This is unless they have been declared ‘off the road’, which can be done if the vehicle is not being used.
Car insurance is, therefore, big business in the UK. In fact, there were around £10 billion of premiums in 2018. This makes it one of the biggest motor insurance markets in the world and there are more car insurance providers in the UK than anywhere else in Europe. There are over 200 car insurance providers in the UK.
Some of the biggest include:
Because of this, it pays to shop around for insurance and make sure you get a deal that suits your needs.
UK car insurance typically covers the vehicle rather than the driver. This means that you aren’t automatically insured to drive other people’s cars. However, some comprehensive insurance policies permit this.
When you take out a car insurance policy in the UK, you specify who is on the policy. Couples can get insurance with both partner’s names on the policy if they both drive, while you can also add additional drivers.
As auto insurance in the UK applies to the vehicle, multiple vehicles requires separate insurance plans. However, many companies offer discounted rates for a second car.
The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) both regulate car insurance companies in the UK. The UK Motor Insurance Database contains records of all insured vehicles. The police can spot-check vehicles to make sure that they have insurance.
Can you use car insurance from another country in the UK?
At present, you can use valid vehicle insurance from other EU countries in the UK. However, this may well change as a result of Brexit. Non-EU/EFTA nationals need to purchase a UK insurance policy to drive in the UK.
Types of car insurance in the UK
The three main types of car insurance in the UK are as follows.
Third party liability
This is the minimum legal coverage. It covers all damage caused to third parties and their property. This includes all damage to other vehicles, injury to others and damage to property (e.g. buildings or lampposts) in incidents where you or another insured driver of your car is at fault.
Third party, fire and theft
This includes all standard third party liability coverage plus it also covers repair or replacement costs if your vehicle is stolen or damaged by fire.
Some policies also offer to cover damage caused by other accidental damage such as storm damage.
The highest level of coverage which will also pay out for damage to your own car in incidents where you are at fault. Some policies also cover the owner of the policy to drive other vehicles.
Although this is the most extensive form of car insurance, most policies will have some exclusions – usually related to intentional damage – so it’s important to check that you have the right level of coverage before signing up.
Car insurance costs
Car insurance costs in the UK will depend on factors including:
driver age, history and profile;
what you will use the vehicle for.
The average cost for car insurance in the UK in 2018 was £431 a year. This is among the highest in the EU.
You can look to lower your annual car insurance premiums by:
reducing risks associated with your car – for example, fitting sensors or installing an alarm to reduce the risk of theft;
taking out telematics (also known as ‘black box’) insurance that sees a device fixed to your car that tracks your driving habits.
If you’re a safe driver, you could see reductions on future premiums;
paying the annual amount upfront rather than in monthly installments;
increasing your excess – this is the amount you will need to pay against any claim.
For example, if you have an excess of £100 and the value of the claim is £500, the insurer will pay £400.
All insurers have a compulsory excess but you can voluntarily increase this to bring down the premium; if you are a young or inexperienced driver, you can add drivers with a good driver profile to the insurance policy.
Additional forms of car insurance in the UK
You can purchase additional forms of car insurance in the UK to mitigate against further risks. These include:
Breakdown insurance – covers costs of a roadside breakdown, such as repair, getting the car towed away, and sorting out replacement transport;
Warranty – covers any mechanical faults with the car. This is often included with new cars, but some companies offer an additional warranty, such as MotorEasy.
Legal insurance – covers legal expenses in the event of an incident that goes to court;
No-claims protection – protects your no-claims bonus in the event of making a claim. You will usually need to wait until a minimum no-claims period has elapsed (e.g. 3 years);
Personal accident insurance – covers any medical costs that would otherwise need to be met;
Driving overseas – at present, UK insurance policies cover cars taken to EU countries but this may change. You can extend your policy to cover additional countries at the same level as your UK policy;
Lost or stolen keys – covers the cost of replacements.
Car insurance bonuses and penalties in the UK
The UK operates a ‘no-claims’ discount system, which allows people who haven’t claimed on their insurance in a number of years to obtain a substantial discount.
Each insurance company operates its own no-claims scheme, but it’s usually possible to get discounts of 50-80% on your annual premiums for long periods without making a claim (e.g. 10+ years).
Most companies will add on a percentage discount for each claim-free year, for example you’ll get 30% discount after the first year and this will then rise by 5% each year until you reach the maximum.
UK car insurance
It is often possible to transfer no-claims periods to other companies if you switch insurer. However, insurers are not obliged to do this so check before signing up if this is something you want to consider. Most companies will omit any claims where the policy-holder is not at fault, for example theft or accidental fire damage.
Companies reward no-claims periods, but they also penalize drivers with a poor driving record. Expect to pay a higher premium if you:
have been involved in any road accidents that were your fault; have points on your driving license for things such as speeding or drink-driving; are a young or inexperienced driver.
Car insurance companies in the UK
There are over 200 car insurance providers to choose from in the UK. This is why it pays to shop around. Some of the biggest and most well-known companies include:
In addition to these, there are also companies such as Tempcover that offer temporary car insurance. Policies start from a single hour, which could give you some much-needed cover at short notice. You can find out more information on individual companies by checking out our UK business directory.
Compare policies using a comparison website such as Confused.com, Go Compare, and MoneySuperMarket. You can also check reviews of different companies on the Which? website.