What optional extras can you add onto your car insurance policy and are they worth it?
Whether you own a big luxury SUV or a small compact car, car insurance is a crucial purchase you’ll need to make before hitting the road. But beyond the standard coverage provided by your comprehensive car insurance policy, there are several optional extras you can take out to provide increased coverage for your set of wheels.
What are those optional car insurance extras and are they worth the additional cost? Let’s find out.
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What optional extras can I add to my car insurance policy?
The list of available optional extras differs between insurers. The coverage options listed below are commonly offered by major car insurers and can sometimes be included with your policy or available for an additional fee.
Rental car following an accident
If you’re involved in an accident, comprehensive car insurance can cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. Depending on the severity of the accident, it’s possible that your car could be off the road for an extended period of time while it is repaired. And if the repairer needs to order a part from overseas, this wait could potentially be even longer.
Many people rely on their vehicles for work, errands, or a number of other uses, so it’s extremely inconvenient to be left without your main mode of transportation. You have the option of paying for a rental car, but that can be expensive and time-consuming if it’s coming out of your pocket.
Rental car reimbursement is designed to cover such a scenario. If your vehicle suffers extensive damage and can’t be driven safely until the damage is repaired, selecting this option ensures that your car insurer will cover the cost of a rental car while your car is off the road. This feature offers peace of mind and important financial protection.
The rental car will usually need to be similar to your current vehicle, but terms and conditions can vary between insurers. Keep in mind that while some policies will cover rental car costs for the entire time your car is being repaired, others will only cover costs for a fixed period, such as 14 or 20 days. The maximum daily allowance covered by your policy can also vary, so check the fine print.
Rental car following theft
In a similar fashion to the above option, this benefit covers the cost of a rental car if your vehicle is stolen. This feature is commonly included as standard on many policies but is sometimes offered for an extra cost if it’s not included.
As above, you’ll be covered for the cost of renting a similar make and model to your regular car. However, time and cost limits may apply, so check your policy terms to make sure you’re aware of what is and isn’t covered.
Coverage for personal items
While comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your vehicle, not all policies cover lost, stolen or damaged personal items that are in your vehicle. For example, if your car is broken into and the thieves make off with your phone, the loss may not be covered by your insurer.
However, by adding this option to your policy, you can enjoy coverage for the personal items you carry in your car. Just make sure to check any limits or individual item sub-limits that may apply.
Glass and windshield coverage
Chipped and cracked windshields are a common and annoying problem. Although they can usually be repaired quickly and easily, the important safety qualities of windshield glass mean that the job may need to be done by specialist auto glass repairers – and this means repairs can be quite expensive.
If you select windshield coverage, your insurer will pay to have chipped, cracked and broken windshields repaired or replaced. While you may sometimes be required to pay a deductible for such claims, some policies include reduced or even waived deductibles for all glass and windshield claims. In other cases, your first windshield claim in any policy period may be deductible-free, but any subsequent claims will require you to pay the standard deductible.
Finally, it’s also worth checking whether a windscreen claim will affect your no-claims discount – it might affect your discount with some insurers but may not have any impact with others.
Engine troubles, mechanical and electrical failures, flat tires and even running out of fuel are frustrating incidents that every driver hopes to avoid. Not only can they be extremely inconvenient and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere (or even in the middle of a busy intersection), but they can also leave you facing expensive bills for repairs and towing costs.
And under normal circumstances, your standard comprehensive car insurance policy won’t cover the cost of either:
- Any structural, mechanical, electrical or electronic failure or breakdown
- Incidents that occur due to general wear and tear
However, an increasing number of insurers include roadside assistance or offer it for an extra fee. This ensures that you’ll be covered for expenses and services such as:
- Towing your car to a repairer
- Replacing or jump-starting a flat battery
- Performing minor repairs related to the breakdown of your vehicle
- Changing a flat tire
- Delivering emergency fuel if you run out
- Replacing lost keys or helping you access keys locked in the car (spare key delivery or on-site assistance from a locksmith)
The exact roadside assistance services covered varies between insurers, so check your policy terms for full details.
Do you always lose your car keys? Or are you worried about the cost of replacing your keys if they’re stolen by thieves?
If so, many insurers can provide coverage for the replacement of your keys and remote locking devices if they are lost or stolen. Re-coding costs are often also covered. This feature is included on some policies, but only available as an extra-cost option on others.
Just make sure to check the limit that applies to this benefit. Some policies will restrict coverage to $300, while others may provide up to $1,000 in protection or more.
The deductible is the amount you agree to contribute towards the cost of a claim. The standard or basic amount that applies generally ranges from $200 up to around $1000, but many insurers allow you to adjust your car insurance deductible to suit your needs.
This option allows you to tailor a policy to suit your needs by:
- Choosing a higher deductible. This will lower your car insurance premium, but will mean you’ll have greater out-of-pocket costs if you ever need to make a claim.
- Choosing a lower deductible. This often requires you to pay higher premiums, but your out-of-pocket costs will be reduced when you file a claim.
Of course, you can also choose to accept the standard deductible quoted by your insurer if you decide it’s the right fit for you.
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Optional extras to help you reduce your premium
Your insurer may also provide a number of other policy options that can help reduce your car insurance premium. Just like choosing a higher deductible, the following options can help you save on the cost of coverage:
If you’re looking for an easy way to save money on the cost of car insurance, you might want to look for an insurer that allows you to restrict coverage under your policy to drivers above a specific age. In most cases, you have the option to restrict coverage to drivers over the age of 25, but some providers may allow you to restrict coverage to people over 30 or even 40 years of age.
Why does this lower your premium? Young drivers are inexperienced and can sometimes be irresponsible, and statistics show that younger drivers are much more likely to be involved in an accident (and therefore more likely to make a car insurance claim). So by only purchasing coverage for people above the age of 25, you reduce your risk of filing a claim and can often enjoy significant savings.
Of course, you’ll need to be sure that no-one under this age limit will be driving your car during the period of insurance. If an incident occurs with a young driver behind the wheel, any resulting claims will be refused.
Another option that can help you reduce your car insurance premium is to only pay for the number of miles you actually drive. Commonly known as telematics or ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance, this type of policy is well worth considering for anyone who doesn’t put a lot of mileage on their vehicle.
Pay-as-you-drive car insurance allows you to only pay for coverage for the distance you actually travel, which means you can tailor a policy to suit your needs. The less you drive, the cheaper your coverage will be.
You can ‘top up’ your level of mileage if you’re approaching your limit before the policy period ends. However, if you need to make a claim and you have driven more miles than you specified when you purchased a policy, you’ll usually need to pay an additional deductible.
No-claims discount protection
A no-claims discount or no-claims bonus is a common feature of comprehensive car insurance policies. How it works is simple: for every year you are claim-free on your policy, you receive an additional discount. In other words, the longer you go without making a car insurance claim, the cheaper your coverage will be.
However, if you ever need to make a claim, your discount will expire and you’ll need to start from the beginning.
But rather than going back to square one, some insurers offer optional no-claims discount protection. If you buy this extra coverage, you can make a car insurance claim without affecting your eligibility for the no-claims discount.
How much do car insurance extras cost?
The cost of optional extras depends on the option you select, the insurer you choose and the standard cost of coverage. Some options, such as restricting drivers or choosing a higher deductible, can actually reduce your premiums. Others, like roadside assistance or personal items coverage, will cause the cost of your premiums to increase.
The best way to calculate the effect these extras will have on your wallet is to get a quote. See how much your car insurance premium varies with and without those options included, and use that information to decide whether they offer enough value for your money.
Are car insurance extras worth it?
The answer to this question really depends on your personal preferences. If you want complete peace of mind and a higher level of protection than a standard policy can offer, it’s worth exploring the extra-cost options available on your policy. And if you want to save money by restricting drivers or mileage, or choosing one of the other cost-cutting options, they’re certainly worth considering if they suit your needs.
However, if you’re looking for cheap car insurance that only covers the essentials, extra-cost options most likely won’t be the best choice for you. While there are many factors that contribute to the total cost of car insurance, tacking additional coverage options can easily drive premiums up. It’s also worth remembering that some options, such as roadside assistance and coverage for chipped or cracked windscreens, may be available cheaper elsewhere.
Whatever you decide, remember to compare car insurance quotes across a range of providers and to read the terms of each policy closely to make sure you know exactly what’s covered.