Car insurance guide: benefits and add-ons
Car insurance policies often comes with optional benefits. Find out which are worth having and which aren't.
Image: Spike Mafford - Getty
When it comes to choosing a car insurance policy, it's important to ensure you've got everything you need covered - and that you're not paying for anything you don't need.
One essential, if you have a good no claims record is a protected no claims discount (PNCD). Accidents do happen and no matter how good a driver you are, the more you're on the road, the greater the chances are that you'll get caught up in an incident. And you stand to wipe out years-worth of no claims, if you do.
Protecting your NCD, while not cheap, does mean that one unfortunate prang won't have next year's premium shooting sky-high.
Automatic add-ons, do you need them?
Add-ons like breakdown recovery and legal expenses cover are commonly added on automatically, unless you request otherwise.
But, as many people often already have breakdown cover in place, and usually have legal expenses cover included with their home insurance, you could end up paying twice for the same thing.
Breakdown cover, however, can be a good optional extra, if you haven't already bought it from a third party.
Premiums for breakdown cover bought as an add-on to your car insurance tend to be about £60-£70 for full cover, which is substantially less than you can buy it for independently. However, if all you want is basic recovery, then you can probably get a cheaper quote elsewhere, so double-check first.
Something you might want to add-on, if it doesn't come as standard with your comprehensive car insurance policy, is a free courtesy car. This is useful if your car is off the road for a few days, or even weeks.
But, if you have a second car, it's probably a waste of money, so ask for it to be removed. Some insurers will lower your premium if you're prepared to forgo the courtesy car.
Other add-ons include physiotherapy cover, which provides a certain amount of care if you're injured in an accident and need therapy. However, if you already have private heath insurance in place you may find it's already covered.
And then there's European breakdown cover, which is another add-on to look out for. It's undoubtedly useful if you drive on the Continent a lot, but if you don't it's a waste of money. And if you have already have breakdown cover in place with another company, you might want to double-check that European cover isn't included with that.
Is your car covered on the continent?
Rarer add-ons are things like key cover, which covers the cost of replacement keys should you lose yours, and handbag cover, which is offered by some women-only insurers.
They could come in useful, but you have to weigh up the cost.
And if you have home contents insurance, for instance, you could find any valuables you have in your handbag at the time of the theft, such as a camera and cash, are covered under your home policy. So you'd be paying for it twice. But of course, you can't claim twice.
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