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Courtesy car insurance

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What is courtesy car insurance?

Not only is a car accident a distressing event to go through – it can leave you struggling to continue with your day-to-day life as your vehicle sits in a garage being repaired. Some of that stress can be eased, however, if you opt to include a courtesy car in your car insurance policy.

Courtesy car cover can help you get back on the road from the moment you drop your vehicle off at the garage, hopefully minimising the impact your accident has on your everyday needs.

What is courtesy car insurance cover?

Courtesy car insurance cover is any car insurance that provides you with use of a courtesy car while your vehicle is being repaired following an accident. Whether or not your car insurance includes a courtesy car will depend on which level of cover you choose.

Typically, fully comprehensive car insurance will include a courtesy car as part of its package (though always make sure to check your policy first).

However, certain insurers may allow you to add a courtesy car as an optional extra, even if you opt for third party or third party, fire and theft insurance.

As standard, courtesy car insurance won’t cover your car being stolen or written off. Some insurers will allow you to opt for a higher level of cover in order to receive a courtesy car if either of these eventualities were to occur. This is also known as hire car cover.

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How do I get courtesy car insurance cover?

If you are looking to take out a new car insurance policy and want courtesy car cover included, make sure to carefully check the details of each policy while shopping around for the best quote. It may also be worth comparing the cost of a fully comprehensive policy that includes a courtesy car as standard with a lower level of cover that allows you to add a courtesy car for an additional fee, to ensure you are getting the right policy for the right price.

If you already have comprehensive car insurance, then you should check the details of your policy to see whether or not a courtesy car is offered as standard. If you have third party car insurance, or third party, fire and theft, and you want courtesy car cover, you should explore whether your insurer offers it as an optional extra.

How much does courtesy car cover cost?

How much courtesy car cover costs depends on whether you are getting fully comprehensive cover, or adding a courtesy car as an optional extra.

The cost of adding a courtesy car as an optional extra can be anywhere from £10 to £50 a year, though of course the exact price will depend on your chosen insurer.

On top of the additional cost to your premium, you will also need to pay for fuel, parking fees and any penalty charges you may incur while driving the courtesy car.

What kind of cars are usually given as courtesy cars?

Usually you will be offered a courtesy car that falls into the Class A or B subcategories of Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Class 4 vehicles. You can therefore expect your courtesy car to be a small, one-litre, three- or four-door hatchback, such as a Ford KA or Renault Clio. This is partly because these vehicles are among the cheapest cars to insure, as their size suggests to insurers that they are less likely to be involved in high-value crashes.

However, certain car insurance policies may offer a like-for-like courtesy car, meaning you will be able to drive a replacement that is the same size, standard and specification as the vehicle you have dropped off for repairs. This may be important if you have specific requirements for the size of your car, such as a certain number of seats for the school commute. If that is the case, you should check the details of your courtesy car cover to ensure you can receive a like-for-like replacement before taking out a new policy.

How do I get a courtesy car on insurance?

As long as you have the right cover in place, you will be able to receive a courtesy car if you have an accident, even if you are at fault, that requires your car to be taken in for repairs.

In order to claim your courtesy car through your insurance, you will need to make sure you adhere to the terms of your policy. This may include going to one of your insurer’s approved repairers. Your insurer may also have a ‘subject to availability’ clause, which means if a car isn’t available, you will not be provided with a replacement.

When getting courtesy car cover, you should be aware of the duration you can drive it for. Some policies will allow you to keep the courtesy car for as long as it takes to make the repairs. Others, however, will have a limit, for example 14-days, even if your repairs take longer.

If you don’t have courtesy car cover, but you are not at fault for the accident, legally the driver responsible for the accident has to cover the costs of your courtesy car. This can be claimed through the at-fault driver’s own car insurance.

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Are there times when I won’t get a courtesy car?

Depending on your policy, your insurer may not pay for a courtesy car for the following reasons:

  • if your car is stolen
  • if your car is written off
  • if the damage is only to your windscreen
  • if there is a ‘subject to availability’ clause, and there are no cars available
  • if you get your car repaired at a garage not approved by your insurer
  • if your accident was outside the geographic limits of your policy

If your car has been stolen or written off, you may be able to upgrade your courtesy car cover, or take out hire car cover, in order to receive a replacement vehicle.

What is the difference between courtesy car and hire car cover?

While the exact terms of courtesy car and hire car insurance will depend on your insurer, the following are the standard differences between the two types of cover:

Courtesy car cover Hire car cover
For when your car has been in an accident that requires repairs For when your car has been stolen (and is unrecoverable), or has been written off
Typically provides you with a small, one-litre, three- or four-door hatchback Greater chance of being provided with a like-for-like replacement car (though this depends on your insurer’s terms)
May be able to use the courtesy car for as long as it takes to repair your vehicle May only be able to use the hire car for a fixed period of time, for example between 14 and 28 days

Am I insured to drive a courtesy car?

You will be insured to drive your courtesy car under the same terms as your standard car insurance. This may include the named drivers on your policy; however, it is best to check before anyone other than the primary policy holder takes the courtesy car for a spin.

So, for example, if you have courtesy car cover added onto your thirty party insurance, you will only have third party cover when driving your replacement vehicle.

What if I have another accident in the courtesy car?

If you have an accident while driving your courtesy car, you should still be covered by your standard car insurance policy. This means your insurance company will cover the cost of the repairs to the courtesy car, minus your excess. You may also be offered another courtesy car, if you have the correct level of cover in place.

Frequently asked questions about courtesy car insurance

Having courtesy car insurance cover can provide peace of mind that, if you were in an accident, you would still be able to use a car for all your day-to-day needs.

How much you want to pay for this peace of mind depends on how reliant you are on your vehicle. If you have a job that you can only commute to by car, need to do the school run every day, or have mobility issues, then you may want to consider paying for this extra level of cover.

However, if you could cope without your vehicle for a few weeks, for example by using public transport instead, you could save yourself some money.

If you don’t take out courtesy car cover, and your circumstances change, you can always look to add it to your existing policy as an optional extra.

How long you have your courtesy car for depends on the terms of your policy. Some insurers allow you to keep the car for as long as it takes to fix your vehicle. Others will only allow you to drive the courtesy car for a limited period of time, for example a couple of weeks, even if your repairs take longer.

Assessing the maximum amount of time you could do without your car can help inform which insurer, and which level of courtesy car cover, is the best fit for your needs.

Your courtesy car may have a black box installed – it will depend on the garage that has provided the vehicle. Black boxes, also known as telematics, track your driving habits, such as the times of day you drive, how fast you drive, and how quickly you brake. As long as you drive safely, the black box shouldn’t pose an issue.

Connor Campbell

Finance Writer

Connor Campbell is an experienced personal and business finance writer who has been producing online content for almost a decade. 

Connor is the personal finance expert for Independent Advisor, guiding readers through everything they need to know about car insurance and home insurance. From how much it costs to the best insurance providers in the UK, he’s here to help you find the right policy for your needs. 

In his capacity as writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet, Connor explored a number of topics close to his heart, such as the impact of our increasingly cashless society, and the hardships and heroics of British entrepreneurs. His commentary was featured in sites such as The Mirror, the Daily Express and Business Insider

At financial trading firm Spreadex, meanwhile, his market commentary was featured in outlets such as The Guardian, BBC, Reuters and the Evening Standard

Connor is a voracious reader with an MA in English, and is dedicated to making life’s financial decisions a little bit easier by doing away with jargon and needless complexity.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.