Last year police in the UK seized more than 150,000 uninsured cars. They gave owners 14 days to pay a £200 fine and the costs of having the car impounded, or look on as their pride and joy was sent off to the crusher. Happily that does not have to be the case for you. Read the second part of our handy guide to car insurance, and make sure you are not one of the 2 million car owners currently estimated to be driving without insurance.

Insurance benefits

Almost every policy offers different levels of cover to every other policy. Here are a list of some of the most common features, and the low-down on what they actually get you.

Courtesy car

This guarantees you a replacement vehicle while yours is taken in for repair – it can be very useful for people who are reliant on their car to get around. Most insurers do provide a courtesy car but often only if your car is repaired by their approved garage. Some insurers offer a courtesy car only when your car is damaged in an accident, and charge extra for providing a replacement in the case of theft.

Personal belongings

This covers all personal belongings that are lost or damaged while in your car. However, only a few insurers replace lost items with new ones. The rest take the age and condition of the item into account and then pay out what they consider to be appropriate compensation. The maximum amount you can claim, and what items are actually covered, also varies from company to company. As with all these things, it basically comes down to sifting through the small-print and working out how useful personal belongings cover will be to you.

Choice of repairer

Some insurers will insist that your car is repaired at one of their approved garages. Choice of repairer enables you to decide where your car goes.

Medical expenses

This can be a very useful addition to a policy though it is not offered by every insurer. Medical expenses caused by an accident will be covered by your insurance – useful if you require lengthy dentistry or physiotherapy after a crash.

In-car audio equipment

Useful for Pimp-my-ride fans, in car audio equipment covers all the stereo equipment you have blasting out Westlife on the back seats. Again, insurers vary on how much cover they actually offer. Most companies set a limit of around £500, so it may well be worth forking out for more if you have half of Dixons packed into the dashboard.

Legal protection

These are litigious times, so some people may feel more comfortable with legal protection. This covers the cost of any legal action resulting from a car insurance claim.

Driving other cars

Many insurers offer third-party protection to policyholders driving other cars. However, this can often be limited to driving in ’emergency situations.’ As you would expect, the exact nature of an emergency can differ substantially from policy to policy.

Named drivers

Named drivers do not have a policy in their own name, but are added on to the policy of a friend or relative. This covers them to drive that person’s car without a separate insurance policy of their own. Beware though that named drivers do not have third-party cover to drive other cars, even in an emergency.

About the author

Robert Wood – Robert Wood – Car Insurance