Comprehensive car insurance provides the highest level of protection for your vehicle. It’s designed to cover any and all damage to your car. If you damage someone else’s car or property in an accident, it covers that too.
What's in this guide?
- Compare comprehensive car insurance
- What am I covered for exactly?
- What extra cover should I consider?
- Do I need comprehensive car insurance?
- So, how much is it actually going to cost me?
- What is excess and why do I need it?
- What other types of cover can I get?
- Compare types of car insurance
- Should I get third party or comprehensive insurance?
- How can I pay less for car insurance?
- What information do I need to have when making a car insurance enquiry?
- What does my insurer really need to know? Should I tell them everything?
- I've had an accident and need to make a claim. What do I do now?
- Other questions you may have about comprehensive car insurance
Compare comprehensive car insurance
What am I covered for exactly?
You may be asking yourself, “What is comprehensive car insurance and what does it cover?” Comprehensive car insurance covers loss or damage to your own vehicle and your legal liability to a third party for loss or damage to their vehicle or property. A typical comprehensive car insurance policy covers your vehicle against the following:
- Flood, hail or storm damage
- Malicious acts
- Fire and theft
- Accident or collision
- Damage to third party property.
What extra cover should I consider?
Most comprehensive policies also include a range of extras, or have them as options:
- Cover for belongings inside the car
- Roadside assistance
- Towing and storage costs
- Emergency travel, accommodation and repairs
- New for old
- Use of hire car
- Windscreen replacement
- Replacement car cover
- Legal liability cover
- Lock and key replacement
Do I need comprehensive car insurance?
In most cases, getting comprehensive car insurance is a good idea. If you care about your car or depend on it every day, it makes sense to invest in comprehensive car insurance.
It’s the only type of car insurance policy that will properly cover you if your car is damaged in an accident. If it is damaged and you’re unable to drive it, most comprehensive car insurance policies will also give you a rental car, and in some instances, a brand new car. You’ll also be covered for any malicious damage or vandalism, damage from hail or storms, theft, fire, emergency accommodation, and much more.
One time that it might not be worth getting comprehensive car insurance is if you’re young as the cost of comprehensive car insurance might cost more than the car itself. Another time you should reconsider taking out comprehensive car insurance is if you’ve got a cheap car you might not care much about, as you might not get your money’s worth if the car is written off.
So, how much is it actually going to cost me?
How much your car insurance costs depends on a range of factors and finding the right comprehensive car insurance takes time. Insurers determine your level of risk and the premium you pay by looking at various indicators. So, how much does comprehensive car insurance cost? It depends on you and your car.
The following can affect your car insurance premiums:
- Driving history. If you have a driving record full of parking and speeding infringements, it will have a negative impact on your insurance.
- Claim history. Insurers rate drivers on a scale of one to five, with one being the highest rating. This is referred to as the no claims discount, the longer you go without making a claim, the lower your premiums.
- The type of car you drive. The kind of vehicle you drive does impact your premiums. For example, a sports car costs more to insure than a station wagon.
- Your age. Practice makes perfect, which is why younger drivers pay higher premiums. Similarly, seniors can expect to pay more, as insurers deem them to be of higher risk.
- Where you park. If your car is kept in a secure location, eg a garage, you can expect to pay less than someone who parks their car on the street.
- What you use your vehicle for. What the vehicle is used for will impact the premiums. Business car insurance usually costs more. Vehicles, such as taxis that are on the road continually attract higher insurance premiums.
The excess is an amount you must pay towards a claim. Most comprehensive car insurance policies let you choose the amount of excess. The more you choose, the less your premium will be. However, if you opt for a higher excess, it is essential that you have sufficient funds to pay it if required.
As the cost of repairs resulting from minor accidents is often less than $1,000, many people opt for an excess around this level, so they do not have to claim on their insurance and jeopardise their rating.
The three main types of excesses are, Standard (basic) excess, which is the amount agreed to when you take out the policy and that you have to pay when making a claim. An age excess, which usually applies to less experienced drivers under the age of 25. Special excess, which may apply to drivers in relation to a specific past incident. You may be able to choose your standard excess level, which makes a big difference to premiums.
Comprehensive car insurance is designed to cover any and all vehicle and property damage, even if it was found to be your fault. In other words, it combines standard car insurance with third party property insurance. The 3 main types of car insurance are as follows:
- Third party. Covers the damage caused by your vehicle to third party property, eg cars, walls. However, it does not cover damage to your own car or property. It can be purchased alone but is included in comprehensive car insurance policies.
- Third party fire and theft. Combines fire and theft coverage for your own vehicle, with the benefits of third-party insurance as above. It too can be purchased by itself but is included in comprehensive car insurance policies.
- Comprehensive. Covers damage to your own vehicle from fire, theft and any other hazards named in the policy and also includes the benefits of third-party insurance and extras.
Compare types of car insurance
Which is the best* car insurance for me? It’s a common question but a tough one to answer. Everyone’s needs and ideas about the best car insurance are different. The table below outlines at a glance exactly what cover you can expect from the 3 main types of car insurance.
|Cover||Comprehensive||Third Party Fire & Theft||Third Party|
|Agreed value cover|
|At-fault damage to other vehicles|
|At-fault damage to own vehicle|
|No claim bonus protection|
|Not at-fault damage to own vehicle|
|Third party personal injury|
*Cover varies depending on the provider
It depends on your situation and whether third party or comprehensive insurance is better for your needs.
For example, one driver may be after basic car insurance for under 25 drivers, while another is after comprehensive car insurance for seniors. One driver may want low-priced cover against common risks, while another wants to pay more for complete peace of mind. It is the difference in your needs that determine the best* policy for you.
- Third party car insurance covers you for the damage your vehicle causes to other people’s vehicles or property. It does not usually cover you for theft or damage to your own vehicle. It costs less than comprehensive car insurance but offers little to no protection for your own vehicle. It may be is a good choice if you’re driving an older or less valuable car. It covers you for the most potentially expensive risks but doesn’t extend unnecessary levels of protection to your own vehicle.
- Comprehensive car insurance covers you for third party damage and for damage to your own vehicle. It also covers you for fire, theft and the other dangers named in the insurance policy. Most offer a range of other benefits such as towing, windscreen replacement and much more. It is a good choice for people with more expensive cars, or one they’re still making payments on, who want the highest level of cover available. Some car loans may require you to take out comprehensive car insurance.
Despite the higher cost of comprehensive car insurance, there are ways to reduce your premium and make it more affordable. When you look at a policy, make sure you:
- Shop around. Not all insurers charge the same, so look for a good deal. Compare both the price and benefits on offer, to find a policy option that fits your needs and budget. Compare your car insurance options now.
- Increase your excess. Increasing your excess may ensure your premiums stay lower.
- Look for no-claim bonus discounts. These can save you as much as 65% on your premiums.
- Restrict usage to nominated drivers. Some insurers provide a discount if only you and your spouse drive the vehicle.
- Bundle your insurance. If you have other forms of insurance, you may be eligible for a discount if you add car insurance as well. Look for multi-policy discounts.
- Make your vehicle more secure. Having a car alarm or immobiliser may earn a discount from your insurer.
- Drive a smaller car. A car with less engine capacity costs less to insure than a bigger, more powerful model.
- Look for an insurer who differentiates. Some comprehensive car insurers consider how often you use your vehicle and adjust the premiums accordingly.
Before you apply for comprehensive car insurance, you need to have access to the following information:
- Your contact and address details
- Details of those who will drive the vehicle
- Details of the vehicle, such as year, make, model, VIN and registration number
- Whether it has any modifications fitted
- Whether it has security features, such as an alarm or immobiliser
- The current market value or the amount you wish to insure it for
- Details of your driving history and whether you have made any claims in the past five years
- Whether you have a no claims bonus
- Where the vehicle is kept, ie on the street or in a garage
- Whether it is used for personal or business use
- The current odometer reading and how many kilometres you expect to travel in a year
- Whether there is any finance owing on the vehicle
Having this information ready when you call the insurer will speed up the application process and ensure they have everything they need to calculate the premium accurately.
When applying for comprehensive car insurance, it is very important that you tell your insurer anything that is likely to affect how much they charge you for the policy. If you don’t comply with the “Duty of Disclosure”, and they discover you have not been totally honest with them, they may reduce your claim or even refuse to pay at all.
You should also advise the insurer when your situation changes, such as if you move house; modify your car; include additional drivers, or start using your vehicle for a purpose other than that specified in the policy. All these things can affect the amount of your premium and the extent of your cover, so you need to be upfront at all times.
Oh no! You’ve had an accident. To make a claim you need to follow the steps required by your insurer. These will be clearly outlined in your policy and usually involve:
- Calling the emergency services if necessary
- Notifying your insurer as soon as possible
- Taking your vehicle to the nearest repairer, i.e. one approved by your insurer, or obtain two quotes
- Lodging a claim form with the insurer, including as much detail as possible and including a police report if requested
Other questions you may have about comprehensive car insurance
* The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products Finder NZ has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms ‘Best’ and ‘Top’ are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.
Read more on this topic
Swann Car Insurance Get cover for your classic car or motorbike, with different levels of cover and optional extensions available.
BBH Backpacker Motor Vehicle Insurance Review Temporary visitor to New Zealand? Insure your vehicle for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months for legal liability, fire and theft.
Travellers Car Insurance Review: Short-Term Car Cover Get cover for your car, campervan or motorbike. while you are backpacking around New Zealand or are only here for a few months.
Insure Direct Car Insurance Review: An Option For The Hard To Insure Been turned away from other providers because you are ‘hard to insure’. Insure Direct may be able to help.
NZ Safe Driving Report 2020 Finder research shows over 2.7 million Kiwis are driving dangerously on the roads. Find out what New Zealand’s riskiest drivers are, and how your own driving stacks up.
The Warehouse Car Insurance With three levels of cover to choose from and a no-stress claims process, Warehouse Money’s car insurance is worth checking out.
Can I get a car insurance premium break or refund during the coronavirus outbreak? Car insurers are offering car insurance payment deferrals, reduced premiums, excess adjustments and more if you need financial help due to coronavirus.
Rental car excess insurance A complete guide to car rental excess insurance and how it can save you money if your rental vehicle is stolen, damaged or involved in a collision.
RentalCover.com Rental Car Insurance Review Save up to 50% on your rental vehicle insurance by taking out a policy with RentalCover.com.
Multi-car insurance Insuring all your cars on the same multi-car insurance policy can be a great way to save on your premiums.
Ask an Expert