Fully comprehensive car insurance is often expensive, particularly if you’re a young or new driver, or if you don’t have a No Claims Bonus. Some quotes come in well above £1,500 even for quite a small and inexpensive car.
And taking out third party only insurance won’t cover your car if it’s written off.
Want a third way?
Look at 3rd party fire and theft insurance. In this article, we’ll explain what it covers, and when it might be the right policy for you – but we’ll also show you how you might be able to get fully comp insurance for not much more, and sometimes, crazily enough, for less!
Table of Contents
What is third party fire and theft insurance?
Third party fire and theft (TPFT) car insurance is a type of policy that covers any damage you cause to other people and their cars in the event of an accident that is deemed to be your fault. TPFT policy also covers your car if it is stolen, damaged in an attempt to steal it, or damaged by fire – but not for any other risk event.
It adds further cover on top of the legal minimum insurance (third party only insurance), which is there simply to protect other road users (third parties).
What does third party fire and theft insurance cover that third party insurance doesn’t? Simply what it says in the name:
- cover if your car is stolen (or damaged in an attempt to steal it)
- and cover if your car is damaged by fire, whether deliberate or accidental.
What is covered by third party fire and theft insurance?
The table below shows the difference between comprehensive and third party fire and theft insurance schematically, so you can clearly see the difference between the various types of insurance policy.
Fire is covered whether it is accidental or deliberate. If your car has been set on fire by vandals, for instance, you’ll need to report it to the police, and to give the crime number to your insurer.
Theft cover includes any damage caused to your car during the attempt to steal it. For instance, if the thief breaks a window, breaks one of the locks, or even drives your car away and crashes it into a tree, you’re covered.
|Type of damage or injury||Third party||Third party fire and theft||Fully comp|
|Injury you cause to other people||yes||yes||yes|
|Damage you cause to other cars||yes||yes||yes|
|Theft of your car||no||yes||yes|
|Fire damage, explosion||no||yes||yes|
|Windscreen and glass damage||no||Varies||yes|
|Injury to yourself||no||no||yes|
|Accidental damage to your car||no||no||yes|
|Damage to your personal possessions in the car||no||no||yes|
What isn’t covered by third party fire and theft insurance?
Third party fire and theft insurance won’t cover you for accidental damage, or for any personal injury that’s caused to you.
For instance if a tree branch falls on your car, or it’s damaged in a flood, you’re not covered. If you skid on your way to work when the road is icy, and hit someone’s garden wall, your insurer will pay to repair their wall, but won’t pay anything to help you repair your car.
If someone else causes the accident, though, their third party insurance will cover any damage caused to you and your car. So if someone pulls out of a side road unexpectedly and hits your car, their insurer will pay for repairs to your car and for any injury you sustain.
The definition of third party fire and theft insurance suggests that all fire and theft is covered. However, there are some exclusions.
- If you didn’t secure your car, you won’t be covered against theft. For instance, if you leave the windows open or the boot unlocked, that’s your fault – the insurer won’t pay out.
- If a fire is the result of a mechanical or electrical fault in your car, it won’t be covered.
If you want to be covered for any accidental damage, you should look at fully comprehensive insurance. This will often also pay for a courtesy car while your car is off the road – vital if you live in a rural area and rely on your car to get about, for instance.
Do I need third party fire and theft insurance?
The basic legal minimum that you need is third party insurance. However, getting fire and theft added to your cover can be very useful, particularly if you live in an area where cars are likely to be vandalised or stolen.
You need to think about the following factors:
- The value of your car. A very cheap car might not even be worth paying the extra for fire and theft cover to be added – you might be better off with just third party insurance.
- How much repairs are likely to cost. Since third party fire and theft insurance doesn’t cover repairs if you have an accident, if you have a car that needs expensive components or a specialist repairer, you should probably get fully comprehensive insurance.
- The cost of the insurance. Young drivers often find the cost of fully comprehensive cover too much, and buy third party fire and theft as a way of making ends meet. But you’ll want to do a proper comparison of insurance quotes before you decide whether to buy comprehensive or third party fire and theft car insurance. Sometimes, there’s not that much of a difference.
What are the best TPFT insurers?
Not all insurers are competitive for TPFT policies. We’ve searched the market looking for those insurers who offer good policies at the right price, and they’re shown in the table below.
3rd party fire and theft car insurance comparison:
|Insurer||Annual premium||Main features|
Those quotes are for driver of eco car, aged 21-30, Greater London, clean licence.
This is a good start, but to find the best third party fire and theft car insurance, you need to search for quotes based on your particular profile. The insurer offering the cheapest third party fire and theft insurance for one driver won’t necessarily be the best for someone else.
Is third party fire and theft insurance good value for money?
Obviously this depends on the price of the individual policy, but you can get TPFT cover costing not much more than third party insurance, and less than fully comp, we think it’s good value.
The big plus is that you’re covered for theft – and since a car is stolen every 5 minutes in the UK, that’s really worthwhile cover. You’re covered for any damage committed in an attempt to steal your car, too – that could be damaged locks, or even a write-off if a thief crashes your car while driving away.
However, if you can get fully comp cover at less than a 20% premium, we think that’s a price worth paying for the addition of cover for accidental damage, even when you caused the accident – unless your car is an old banger, in which case, you might decide it’s not worth the cost.
Third-party fire and theft vs. third party only
When you compare third party fire and theft car insurance quotes to third party only, you may well find that third party is actually more expensive despite offering you significantly less cover.
Third party insurance only covers over people (‘third parties’), not you. It’s there as a legal requirement to protect other road users, so that anyone who is involved in an accident caused by another driver is covered by that driver’s insurance. It won’t pay out anything for damage to your car, or theft of your car, or injuries you sustain.
So getting the additional fire and theft cover for less than nothing is a real bargain.
Third party fire and theft vs. fully comp
When you’re looking at comprehensive vs third party fire and theft insurance, you’ll want to think about both the cover and the price. Fully comp insurance adds a lot of extra cover to third party fire and theft.
Depending on the insurer, that could include:
- cover for the cost of repairs after an accident,
- personal injury cover,
- courtesy car while your car’s being repaired,
- windscreen cover,
- cover for your personal possessions in the car.
Now, you’d expect fully comp insurance to be much more expensive than third party fire and theft, wouldn’t you? But it doesn’t always work that way.
Most people who apply for third party fire and theft are higher-risk drivers who think fully comp will be too expensive. Insurers know this. So when you ask for an insurance other than fully comp, they may think you fall into that category – and give you a high quote.
The only way to know for sure is to do a proper third party fire and theft car insurance comparison and get fully comp quotes at the same time.
|Driver and car details||Comprehensive premium||TPFT premium||Which insurance was cheapest?|
|Greater London, driver 17-20, eco car||£2,296||£2,313||fully comp|
|Greater London, driver 21-30, eco car||£1,254||£1,178||Third party fire and theft|
|West Midlands, driver 21-30, eco car||£1,327||£1,233||Third party fire and theft|
|North East, driver 17-20, eco car||£2,319||£2,552||fully comp|
Those quotes exclude fully comp black box policies and are based on average quotes of main insurers on the market.
Another factor that has affected fully comp quotes is the introduction of telematics policies. These can dramatically lower the cost of fully comp insurance, particularly for younger drivers. Check out our info on other cheap insurance options, below.
You may have seen comparison showing that third party fire and theft policies are much more expensive than fully comp. But these are based on the average policy – and most people taking out third party fire and theft policies are high risk drivers, while safer, older, lower risk drivers usually head straight for fully comp where they get given low quotes.
Do you get no claims bonus on third party fire and theft?
Yes, most third party fire and theft policies will allow you to build up your no claims bonus.
By building up a good history of driving without making a claim, you’ll get a no claims discount that will reduce the cost of your insurance in future years.
How can I get the cheapest third party fire and theft insurance?
You’ll have to shop around to get the cheapest TPFT quote.
Insurers quotes vary widely. For instance, a 21-30 year old with six points on their licence and living in London could get quoted as little as £1483 and as much as £7261, according to our research. If you don’t shop around for third party fire and theft car insurance, compare different quotes and pick the right one, you could be wasting big money.
Do I have other cheap insurance options?
If you’re looking to reduce the cost of your insurance policy, you might consider a telematics policy.
Telematics policies involve installing a ‘black box’ in your car that reports on your driving.
Insurers can track when, how much and how well you drive, and in return are prepared to give you a lower premium. Many insurance companies market these policies specifically to younger drivers.
You might also consider other ways to save:
- limiting your mileage,
- getting a car in a lower insurance group that’s cheaper to insure, or
- paying a higher voluntary excess on your policy.