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Understanding car insurance

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When buying car insurance, take time to compare the cost and understand what is (and is not) covered by different policies.

Types of car insurance

When deciding which type of insurance will suit you, think about whether you can live without your car if it's written off or stolen. Also consider if you can afford to pay for the damage to someone else's car if you have an accident.

Third party versus comprehensive insurance

  • Compulsory third party (CTP) insurance — included in your car registration cost (except in New South Wales, where you buy it separately). Also called green slip insurance. It covers the costs of compensation claims if you injure or kill someone in a car accident.
  • Third party property insurance — covers damage to other people’s property, including cars, when an accident is your fault.
  • Third party property, fire and theft insurance — covers property damage, and your car if it's stolen or damaged by fire.
  • Comprehensive insurance — covers repairs to your car and repairs to other cars, even if the accident is your fault. It also covers your car if it's stolen or damaged by fire, flood or vandalism.

How your car is valued

With comprehensive insurance, you can choose how your car is valued. The value is the amount you'll get if your car is written off or stolen:

  • Agreed value — a fixed amount that's decided by you and your insurer.
  • Market value — the amount your car would have sold for, at the time of the accident.

If you use the market value, you don't know how much you'll get if you claim, and you can't change the amount. If you use an agreed value, you'll pay a higher premium.

Cost of car insurance

The amount you pay each year for insurance is called a premium. The insurer works out your premium by estimating how likely it is that you'll make a claim.

You may also have to pay an excess when you make a claim. The excess is the amount you agree to contribute towards the cost of a claim.

The premium and excess you pay will depend on your policy and on other factors, such as your age. For example, a driver under 25 may have to pay a higher excess. This is because people under 25 are involved in more accidents.

No claim bonus

Some policies include a no claim bonus. This means you pay a lower premium if you don't make a claim for a certain period of time.

Read the policy to understand what claims affect your bonus and if there are any limits.

Paying for add-on insurance

Some car dealers offer add-on insurance when you buy a new or used car. These products are often not good value for money, for example the insurance extras sold by car dealers.

Getting the best deal on car insurance

To help you get the best deal on car insurance:

  • Third party property insurance might be all you need if your car's not worth much and you can live without it. It's the cheapest option.
  • Comprehensive insurance can save you money if you can't afford to pay for repairs (to your or someone else's car) or live without your car.
  • Third party property, fire and theft insurance might suit you if you park on the street. It will save you money if your car gets stolen.
  • Check if a no claim bonus will really save you money.
  • Check the exclusions in your policy to see what you're not covered for. For example, you might not be covered for rust or vandalism. This could be a problem if you park on the street.
  • Ask insurers if they offer any discounts. For example, if you bundle other types of insurance with them, or install an alarm.
  • Check if the insurer always charges an excess , even if an accident isn't your fault.
  • Weigh up the difference between having a high premium and low excess, versus the opposite. You may be able to save on your premium by increasing your excess.

Compare car insurance policies

Get quotes from more than one insurer to find the best value for money, and a policy that suits your needs.

Comparison websites can be useful, but they are businesses and may make money through promoted links. They may not cover all your options. See what to keep in mind when using comparison websites.

Compare these features:

  • Premium - a lower premium for the same type of cover
  • Excess -  an option to lower your premium by adjusting your excess or paying no excess
  • Payment -  an option to pay your premium in monthly instalments at no extra cost
  • Exclusions -  any events that aren't covered, for example: mechanical failure, depreciation, rust, or wear and tear intentional damage (for example, vandalism) damage caused by an unlicensed, drunk, or drug-affected driver storm damage
  • No claim bonus -  a choice to pay a lower premium for not making a claim for a period of time
  • Break-ins -  check the policy to see if things you leave in the car are also covered if they are stolen
  • Roadside assistance -  free roadside assistance if you break down
  • After-accident care -  free towing, on-the-spot repairs, taxi fare, accommodation and car hire

Renewing you car insurance

Get quotes from a few other insurers to check you're getting the best deal. You may end up paying more by staying with your current insurer.

This article was originally published by Moneysmart at https://moneysmart.gov.au/car-insurance/choosing-car-insurance. This information is general in nature. does not take into account your personal situation and does not constitute financial advice. Please refer to any relevant terms and conditions associated with any financial product offering.

 

 

 

 

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