Types of Car Insurance

One of the wonderful things about the car insurance industry in South Africa is that there are not gazillions of products to choose from. Admittedly a couple of unique products – such as pet car insurance and teen car insurance – have popped up in the market over the past year or so, but for the most part you will find only three basic types of insurance cover for motor vehicles to choose from. These are Comprehensive, Third Party Fire and Theft, and Third Party only.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive Insurance is as it does. It covers just about the entire panoply of risks your car is going to get exposed to regardless of whether it is in motion or standing dead still. These risks include losses caused by perpetrators such as car thieves and hijackers, accidental damage to your car, accidental damage that you may cause to the vehicle or property of a third party and, just as important, for the accidental death or injuries of third parties. The accessories in your car (such as the car radio or canopy), as well as certain natural risks (such as rain), are normally also included under a comprehensive insurance policy.

Some insurers throw in a few extra benefits of their own, such as road side assistance, medical assistance, car hire, towing and storage, at no extra charge.

Comprehensive Insurance cover is the most expensive of the three car insurance types. You would be well-advised to choose this type of cover as an absolute minimum, if:

  • you clock up high mileage, or
  • your car comes with a big price tag, or
  • you owe money on the car, or
  • your car is new / new-ish, and
  • you can afford the premium.

A version of Comprehensive Insurance that is growing in popularity is off-road insurance. This cover was purposely designed for those of you who literally take to the hills every once in a while, doing those things that would normally disqualify your insurance claims under a standard policy. Off-road insurance offers, in addition to all the benefits you enjoy under a normal comprehensive policy, spare tyre and key cover, amongst others.

Third Party Fire and Theft

Third Party Fire and Theft provides insurance cover for any damage you may cause to the vehicle of another person, and the accidental death or injuries of third parties involved in the same accident. You will also be compensated for the loss of your vehicle due to attempted theft, theft or hijacking, as well as any damage to your vehicle that was caused by fire, lightning or explosions. You will also enjoy cover on certain accessories and fittings, such as your windscreen, car radio and canopy.

The main difference between Comprehensive and Third Party Fire and Theft is that your car is not covered against accidental damage.

Third Party Fire and Theft is the second most expensive (or second cheapest, depending from where you view it) of the three car insurance types. You can consider this type of cover, as an absolute minimum, if:

  • you clock up ‘average’ mileage, or
  • you owe very little money on the car, and
  • you can afford the premium.

Third Party Only

Third Party Only provides insurance cover for any damage you may cause to the vehicle of another person, and the accidental death or injuries of third parties involved in the same accident. You have no cover under this insurance type against the loss of, or damage to your own vehicle.

Third Party Only is the cheapest of the three. You can consider this type of insurance if:

  • your car is old, or
  • you rarely drive, or
  • you owe no money on your card, or
  • you don’t have sufficient money to afford anything else.

Regardless of which car insurance policy you choose, make a point of reading and understanding the inclusions and exclusions. Fortunately car insurers are very diligent in their disclosures. Should you have any questions while working through the various clauses, ask for clarification before making a final commitment.