Information about car insurance is full of technical terms and jargon. Here we explain the most common terms:
It ranges from the lowest 1 to the highest 50, based on factors like a car's value, performance, security and costs to repair. Most car magazines with price listings in the back will give the insurance group of the cars featured.
Due to this range of factors, even very similar types of car can have quite different insurance group numbers, and the cost to insure them will vary significantly. So a car's insurance group is always worth checking before buying.
There are four categories of write off, depending on the severity of the damage. Category A cars are those effectively destroyed, with no salvageable parts. Cat B cars are too severely damaged to be repaired, but a few parts can be salvaged. Cat C cars are potentially repairable, but the cost of repair would exceed the car's value. Cat D write offs could be repaired for less than the car's value but associated extra costs, such as providing a courtesy car, make it uneconomic for an insurance company to do so.
dispute a decision to write off your car, first ask your insurer which category
your car falls into, to see if a buy-back is possible. Taking the payout from
your insurance company - normally market value minus salvage value - it may make
sense to have your car repaired independently. With some paperwork, the DVLA will
re-classify your car as repaired. But be aware that its record will still carry
a history of 'accident damage' and this may affect your car's future value and
ability to sell it on.
For example, if repairing your car will cost £800 and the 'excess' on your policy is £100, you must pay the repairer the £100 and your insurance company pays the £700 remainder.
There is often a compulsory excess set by the insurance company, which you will have to pay if you make a claim. Plus the facility for an additional voluntary excess - you choose the amount. Volunteering to pay more towards a claim means you take on more risk, so the cost of your policy will be reduced.
If another party is found to be at fault for an accident, you should be able to reclaim from them the excess you have paid, as well as your repair costs.
NO CLAIM DISCOUNT / BONUS:
You can take your bonus between insurance companies if you switch when you renew by just providing your renewal document to prove that you are entitled to it.
But remember, this discount really is as it says - for no claims. It's not fault-related. If you have to claim, even for something that was not your fault, you will very likely still lose your discount - unless it is 'protected' (see below).
Sometimes small claims in specified areas, like claims for broken windows/windscreen, will not affect your discount. But this varies between insurers, so check the small-print of the policy if you're concerned.
The deal varies between insurers, but if you protect your bonus you are normally allowed to claim once and keep your entire bonus, and perhaps even twice and have your bonus reduced only slightly - within a given period of normally several years. More claims than that and you are likely to lose your no claims bonus anyway, even if protected.
If you have a good driving record, this is well worth including in your policy. It'll cost a bit extra, but if you have an accident you might lose a discount that could be worth hundreds.
But be warned that, contrary to a common sense assumption that 'car' insurance will adequately compensate for something being stolen from your car, most if not all insurance companies will actually pay out very little for personal possessions. Cover is normally subject to such a low payout limit that, bearing in mind your excess, is hardly worth claiming.
The excuse insurers give for their near-universal feeble cover against such theft of possessions is that people should by now be aware not to leave anything on view in an unattended car. Yet anyone can have an occasional lapse and be unlucky that a thief is in the right place at the right time to take advantage.
However, as almost all insurers offer similarly terrible protection for their customers on this score, the consumer has no choice.
The upside is that it cuts down on paperwork and lengthy legal action, meaning quicker payouts for claims.
The problem for the innocent party in an accident - who often has a much clearer idea of who was at fault for what happened - is that their own insurer can give up on their innocence and foot the bill for repairs themselves. And if an insurance company is out of pocket, that means your own premium, and possibly no claims bonus, will be affected - even if you maintain that the accident wasn't your fault.
Yet this effect of such a deal being struck may not be noticed until time comes to renew, often months after the accident and an appropriate time to do anything about it. Understandably, most would assume that if they were not at fault for an accident, their record will not be harmed.
Such deals between insurers do not affect the ability of the innocent party in an accident to take legal action against the person at fault to recover any financial loss related to their own insurance record being harmed - as long as the other person's fault can be proved.
This is an optional extra to your car insurance. It provides an amount, up to a maximum, to pay for any legal action needed to recover costs you have suffered as a result of an accident that wasn't your fault, but which weren't covered by your insurance policy. For example, costs like travel expenses, hire car charges and your policy excesses.
Disputes can sometimes occur here because, even if you've paid for legal cover, insurers will only back you under this facility if they believe that the legal case is winnable.
This includes the addition of any extra parts like spoilers or replacements with non-standard body parts. It includes changes like different wheels and improving the performance of the car by tuning the engine or using non-standard mechanical parts in areas like the suspension or brakes.
If your car has been modified in any way from standard, it will very likely increase the cost of insuring the car, especially if insurers assume you are seeking extra speed. It may also cost you by excluding you from the standard quoting systems provided by most online insurance providers, making insurance shopping more time-consuming and ruling out online discounts.
This is normally accompanied by a bigger booklet which is your Policy Document, containing all the small print about the features of your policy; what's covered, what's not covered, what the limits of various aspects of the policy are.
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