Looking to purchase car insurance or switch from your current policy? Find out what to look for and start your comparison here.
In Australia it's mandatory for every vehicle to have insurance that provides coverage for the death or injury of the people involved in a motor vehicle accident. This is known as Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance. However, CTP doesn't provide coverage for the damage of property, whether it's your vehicle or someone else's vehicle. That's what comprehensive and third party car insurance is for.
Keep reading for more information on the different types of cover available and what to look for when comparing policies. Ready to get a quote? Compare policies currently offered on finder.com.au below.
- What types of car insurance can I purchase?
- Want the cover you actually need? Steps to compare policies
- How is agreed and market value actually different?
- What you won't be covered for
- 11 steps to save on your car insurance policy
- How to apply for car insurance
- Tips for your application
- Switching to a different insurance company
- Cancel your existing policy
- Still not sure? Some questions you may still have
The main types of car insurance available on the Australian market include:
- Comprehensive car insurance. Ensures you are covered for the expense of replacing or repairing your vehicle, regardless of whether or not you were responsible for the accident. In some cases, it also covers the expense of transportation, emergency repairs as well as the cost of repairing damages caused by another vehicle.
- Third party fire and theft coverage. Ensures you are protected against losing your car as a result of theft or any damages it may incur as a result of it being stolen. It also covers your car from fire damage as well as any personal liability if your car causes damage to someone else's property.
- Third party property cover. This policy provides coverage for any damages you may cause to someone else's vehicle or property. However, it won't cover the expense of repairing damages your vehicle incurs as a result. This policy provides cover for legal expenses, limited damage by drivers who are uninsured, coverage for a replacement vehicle and claims services.
- Compulsory third party insurance (CTP). Commonly known as green slip insurance, CTP is mandatory for every registered driver in Australia. It offers protection to the driver who is at fault for a motor vehicle accident which led to another person being injured, including the driver of the other vehicle, a passenger, a cyclist or a pedestrian.
- Additional options. You can opt for additional coverage besides the standard features available including the replacement of your car with a new vehicle; the ability to protect your 'No Claim Bonus', which is a bonus given to you for years in which you haven't made a claim; and finally other options such as the ability to choose your own repairer.
What is covered in my insurance policy?
The table below shows the type of coverage you get with each insurance policy, making it easier for you to determine the cover you need.
|Type of Policy||Damage to your vehicle||Damage to another person's property||Damage or loss as a result of your car being stolen||Injury or death of another person as the result of a car accident|
|Compulsory third party||No||No||No||Yes|
|Third party property||No||Yes||No||No|
|Third party property, fire and theft||No||Yes||Yes||No|
Comparing car insurance policies comes down to first deciding what the best* policy is for your needs and circumstances. Thus, an ideal policy should be tailored to your requirements, your driving lifestyle and your budget.
At first glance, the best* option might seem to be the cheapest policy but that isn't always the case. More often than not, if you're underinsured, you'll find that you have to pay out a lot more if you're involved in an accident than any savings you might have made by choosing a cheap policy. So the best* policy is actually the one that gets the balance right between the level of coverage you need and how much you can afford to pay.
First off, you need to ask yourself how much coverage is sufficient for you. The fact is that the insurance market has changed quite a bit in that insurers no longer believe that a single type of policy is adequate for everyone, and they've done something about it. This is why you need to ask yourself a few questions regarding the type of policy you need.
So, the first thing you need to establish is how frequently you drive. This is because there are now 'pay as you drive' policies that will allow you to pay by the kilometre, which is an ideal option for anyone who uses their care rarely. Since you don't drive that often, the insurance companies see you as a lower risk, which could also lead to more attractive premiums.
Some other things you need to establish include:
- Modifications done to your vehicle, including performance enhancements
- Whether or not your vehicle was imported
- Your age
- Your car's primary use - business or personal
These are all important aspects because they'll help you determine which type of policy is right for you. Take into account that there are insurance companies that provide specialty policies for certain types of drivers, which often have more attractive terms and conditions than standard policies, like the pay as you drive policy mentioned earlier.
|Agreed Value||Market Value|
What's best for me?
When deciding if market value is right for you, you need to consider if the reduced amount will be enough to replace your lost vehicle...is the money you save on your premium worth the additional cost you will have to pay to purchase a new vehicle.
That said, if you drive an older vehicle (say 10 - 15 years older), replacement cost may not be as great a concern so it would make sense to save the premium.
While exclusions may vary between providers, you generally will not be covered for:
- If the damage was caused by mechanical failure, depreciation, rust, wear and tear or changes made to the vehicle
- Loss of income from being unable to drive
- If the damage was incurred due to your vehicle not being safe or participating in a race
- Damage that was caused intentionally
- Any damage incurred if the person driving didn't have a licence, was drunk or on drugs
- If the person driving was not covered by the policy
Nobody want's to pay more than they have to for their car insurance. Here are some key steps you can take to save further on your policy:
- Discounts offered - Research loyalty discounts and discounts for taking out more than one insurance policy with your brand.
- Pay as you drive - as mentioned, some insurance policies will be calculated depending on how much you drive, so those who drive less may make use of savings.
- Purchase insurance online - some insurance brand will provide you with a discount for taking out your insurance online.
- Vary your excess - paying a higher excess in the event you have an accident may result in a lower premium.
- Pay your premiums upfront - this can sometimes net you savings depending on your insurer.
- Restrict certain drivers - some policies will get cheaper if younger drivers aren't included in the policy. This also means they won't be insured.
- Keep a clean driving record - your driving record and the history of the claims you've lodged are used to determine how much of a risk you pose to the insurance company. The higher the risk level, the more you'll have to pay. Conversely, if you have a good driving record and haven't lodged many claims or none at all, there's a good chance you'll get a better deal on your premiums.
- Know how your vehicle make and model will affect your premiums - the type of car you drive will also impact your insurance premiums. The insurer will determine how much it would cost them to repair your car, including the cost of replacing parts, so the more expensive it is to fix, the more you might pay.
- Find out how where you live may impact what you pay - the area you live in also has an effect on the size of your premiums. If you reside in an area where a lot of accidents, thefts or vandalism occur, you'll find that your premiums will be more higher. So to save money make sure you garage your car in a secure area, preferably one that's under cover and away from the street. Also, consider equipping your vehicle with security devices such as an alarm or immobiliser, as some companies will offer you a discount on your policy if you do.
- Compare policies - Shopping around for car insurance is essential. You need to check out the different policies available from different insurance companies and what they offer
- Maintain your car - Maintaining your car is important so make sure to take your vehicle for a check-up and have it serviced on a regular basis. Any deterioration could negatively impact the value of the car and lead to problems when you make a claim. Your car insurance policy will probably not cover you for damage caused by old age and improper maintenance, so make sure to keep your vehicle in good shape.
Applying for car insurance involves first getting a quote, and then the application process itself.
Getting a quote
The quote process will differ depending on the insurance brand though most will follow similar steps to those listed below:
- Specify what policy you want and when you want it to start: comprehensive; third party property damage, fire and theft or third party property damage.
- Input your vehicle type, including non-standard modifications and accessories, if the vehicle is for business or personal use, and if you want to insure it for an agreed or market value.
- Enter your personal details and the details of any drivers.
- Choose any policy extras and decide if you want to increase your excess to reduce your premiums.
Once you're happy with how much you'll be spending each year or month, you'll have to go through an application which go through the same steps above but in further detail.
When this is completed, you'll make your payment, and the policy will start on the date specified.
Information you must disclose when applying
While it may be tempting to avoid disclosing some details about your vehicle or driving history from your insurance brand, in doing so you only risk your claim being rejected in the event you actually have an accident. Insurance companies go to great lengths to verify the information you have provided in the event of a claim.
- Driving convictions - While many motoring convictions can be removed from your licence before you can be considered rehabilitated, from a legal standpoint, you still have to inform the insurance company of any convictions you haven't been rehabilitated for.
- Other criminal convictions - If you have any other criminal convictions, you must let the insurer know as they can determine the level of premium you have to pay or the terms you are offered. If you don't let them know, you can find yourself with a policy that is not valid.
- Vehicle incidents - Most insurance companies will require you to reveal your entire vehicular incident history, which not only refers to claims you have lodged yourself or have been lodged against you but also those pertaining to any other person driving on your policy. Such incidents could be accidents, joy riding, vandalism, damage to the windscreen, fire or theft.
- Alterations - Most insurance companies will require that you reveal any alterations you may have made to your car. Even if these alterations do not affect the performance of the vehicle, they could make it more valuable or increase the chances of it getting stolen. Things like installing specialty exhausts or tinting windows, which otherwise do not affect the performance of the vehicle, are considered alterations you must inform your insurer of. While this might seem strange, the fact is that insurance companies have found that people who make alterations to their vehicles tend to statistically have a higher likelihood of being involved in a claim.
If any of the requirements of what must be disclosed to your insurer is unclear, it's always worth giving them a call to verify the details to ensure you are adequately covered. Keep these details with the rest of your insurance documentation in the event you have to provide proof in the future that you did as you were required.
As long as you give enough notice, most standard car insurance policies will let you cancel at any time. Keep in mind that a cancellation fee will apply unless you're switching to another policy with the same brand, or within the cooling off period.
It's a good idea to change policies when your old policy is up for renewal. This will see you avoid the cancellation fee, but be sure you time the end your old policy with the beginning of your new one, otherwise you'll have a gap in your cover.
It's a good idea to stay abreast of what the competition is offering and compare it with the policy you have. Before you make the transition, make sure it's worth it and give your current insurance company the opportunity to make a counteroffer. They might come up with something that's even more attractive.Back to top
I've had an accident, what do I do?
Having an action plan on hand when making a claim
Once you've been involved in an accident, you'll have to make a claim. To increase the likelihood of the process going smoothly, keep the following tips in mind:
- Stay at the scene of the accident but don't admit you were to blame. You should also take down the names, contact information and registration numbers of the other people involved in the accident. You should also get hold of and record the number of the police report, if it applies.
- Before you make the claim consider all the consequences that might arise as a result. You should also make sure that you're fully aware of any excess obligations you might have. Also check if your insurance company offers a no claim bonus.
- When deciding to make a claim, you must give the insurance company all the information pertaining to your accident as clearly and as quickly as possible.
- Fill out a formal claim form if necessary. If available, provide as many supporting documents as possible and make sure that the insurance company acknowledges that your claim was received. Next, you'll have to answer any questions that are relevant for the assessment of your claim and, to ensure everything goes smoothly and you get an answer as quickly as possible, make sure you stay up to date with how your claim is progressing.
When am I required to pay an excess?
The excess is the charge you are required to pay on every claim you lodge. So, for example, if the rear and front of your car have been damaged in two separate situations, you are required to make two claims, which means you will need to pay an excess for each claim you lodged. The total amount you have to pay depends on the conditions under which you made the claim.
If the insurance company agrees that you or your vehicle were not to blame for the accident and you are able to offer the contact information of the other driver or the registration number of the other vehicle, some companies will waive the excess.
Are there different types of excess to pay?
Generally, there are five types of excess you might be required to pay, depending on the circumstances:
- Basic excess
- Voluntary excess, which is an additional excess you can nominate to pay to make your premiums cheaper
- Age excess for those under the age of 25
- Inexperienced driver excess for those who have held a licence for a short number of years
- Undeclared young driver excess, which applies when someone under 25 drives the car but isn't listed on the policy
What does amount covered represent?
The amount covered represents the maximum sum an insurance company will pay for the damage or loss of your vehicle, minus any applicable deductions, unless otherwise stated in the policy. This amount includes the entire value of the vehicle, including alterations and accessories and also includes GST.
Purchasing, renewing or cancelling your policy
How can I pay for a policy?
You have the option of paying your premiums either every month or on an annual basis. In some cases paying monthly will raise the total amount you pay each year.
Is policy renewal automatic?
If the insurance company is willing to renew your policy, in most cases you'll receive notice a minimum of 14 days before the expiration date of your policy. The notice generally includes how much you have to pay as well as when you have to pay by. If you pay your premiums every month, you won't have to do anything as the company will simply continue to draw payment for your account on the same date every month. However, if you pay your premium as an annual lump sum, you should talk to your insurance company to see how you can make the payment.
Do I have to do anything if the renewal contains wrong information?
If your renewal doesn't contain the correct information, you have to get in touch with your insurer. You have to make sure that all your information is updated and accurate and if you don't take action to inform your insurer about any changes to your circumstances that you are fully aware are relevant to your policy, you might end up with a reduced payout on a claim or no payout at all. Furthermore, your policy might be cancelled and if fraud is suspected, the insurance company may simply act as if the policy had never existed.
What is the cancellation procedure?
In most cases, a car insurance policy can be cancelled by calling the insurance company or by sending in a written cancellation. Generally, if you cancel your policy outside the cooling off period, you will receive a refund consisting of any portion of your premium that has not yet expired after the cancellation fee has been deducted. There might also be other non-refundable government charges which will also be deducted if the refund exceeds $5.
How can I repair my car?
Generally, your insurance company will be able to help with getting your vehicle repaired. Depending on the insurer, you will be sent to one of their assessment centres or recommended repairers, or the repairer of your own choice. In either case, an assessment will be performed and repairs will be organised.
What do I have to do if another person lodges a claim against me?
You should contact your insurance company immediately if you receive any letters making demands from any other person involved in the event, even if it's from their insurer or legal representative.
If contact is initiated verbally, then inform the other party who your insurance company is and let them know that the insurer will be handling the claim. At no point should you admit that you were to blame for the damage or accident and you should certainly not make any promises regarding covering their expenses.
Write down as much information as possible on the other party, including their name, place of residence, telephone number and vehicle information. Then get in touch with the insurance company to let them know what has occurred so they can help you with the process.
Is it necessary for me to give my Input Tax Credit (ITC) entitlement to the insurer for the claim?
According to the GST Act, you are obligated to let your insurance company know what your insurance premium ITC entitlement was. More information is available from the ATO.
Why is my ITC entitlement deducted from any payments made directly to me?
Generally speaking, according to an insurance policy, the insurer is liable to cover the net cost of your claim. Thus, when they work out how much they have to pay you, they deduct any ITCs you might be entitled to because they reduce the net expense.
The best option is to contact your accountant or the ATO to learn more about the ITC and how it impacts your claim.
Do insurance companies insure all types of vehicles?
No. Some insurance companies will not provide coverage for vehicles such as:
- Beach buggies
- Classic and vintage cars
- Commuter buses that can carry more than 12 passengers
- Vehicles that are damaged
- Vehicles that were formerly ambulances or taxis<
- Horse floats
- Privately imported vehicles
- Corsa Special Vehicles
- Vans built for special purposes like fire rescue vans
- Rally cars
- Refrigerated vehicles
- Taxi trucks
- Vehicles that can carry over 2 tonnes
If you aren't sure whether your vehicle is eligible, it's best to contact the insurance company directly and see what they say. There are also some limitations in terms of what the vehicle will be used for. Many insurance companies will not provide coverage if the vehicle in question is used:
- As a courtesy car
- For the transportation of inflammable liquids, explosives, chemicals, dangerous goods
- In time trials
- In a racing competition or rally
- For taxi services
- For hire services
- For racing
- As a demo vehicle
Again, not all of these will apply to all insurers so your best option is to contact the insurance company direct and see what they say regarding your particular vehicle and its usage.
What you will/won't be covered for
What drivers are covered under my policy?
While this varies from insurer to insurer, generally a learner driver will be covered by a car insurance policy as long as there is an instructing passenger in the front seat who is a fully licensed regular driver. In most cases, you don't have to pay an additional premium but if the learner driver has an accident, you might have to pay an age or inexperience excess or both.
Most car insurance policies also cover international drivers as long as they can legally drive in Australia and have a valid licence. Of course, they must abide by the terms and conditions of the policy as well.
If you drive while pregnant, it won't affect your policy unless you've been advised to refrain from driving or that your pregnancy could negatively affect your capacity to drive. To ensure you are fully able to drive, it is a good idea to consult your doctor.
What about extras?
Some insurance companies take things a step further than simply handling your claim. Some insurers offer a valet service whereby they take care of all the details and, if your car can be driven safely, they will even deliver it to where it needs to go. Generally, such perks are only available for comprehensive policies.
Do insurers offer coverage and/or benefits for children?
Some insurance companies offer certain benefits for children if you're an existing customer. If your child wants to insure their vehicle with the same insurance company, they might receive a rating for every year they've been driving while licensed and haven't made a claim. Check with your insurance company as some offer additional perks such as free one-day skilled drivers courses, which are meant to help them with their driving skills and offer discounts after completing the course.
I need to change some information. What do I do?
To change any information pertaining to the registration of your car or the regular driver, you have to contact the insurance company. You will need to give them the number of your policy and/or the registration number of your vehicle, as well as your mailing address, which must coincide with the address on our policy, and your birth date when submitting your request.
Some details you will have to provide them with when changing the details of a regular driver include:
- The frequency with which the person will now be driving the car
- What they will be using the car for
- Their name, gender and date of birth
- How long they have held their licence for
- Accident and claims history for the past 3 years. If there are such events, you must supply details of the accident, whether or not they were to blame and when it occurred.
- Whether or not the driver has lost their licence or had it suspended or cancelled. If yes, you will need to provide details.
What if I want to make alterations to my vehicle or add accessories?
If you intend to alter your vehicle in any way that makes it different from the standard model, which includes adding non-standard accessories, you will have to contact the insurance company. You will have to provide your insurer with a list of the alterations and accessories along with their monetary value. You also have the option to remove alterations and accessories from your policy by contacting the insurance company.
How will I get around if my car is stolen?
Some insurance companies will provide their customers with a hire car for a limited period of time if their vehicle has been stolen. There is also the possibility of pre-purchasing a 'discount hire car benefit' or 'comprehensive hire car benefit', which will ensure you have access to a hire car while your vehicle is being repaired from damage caused in an accident.
What about coverage for tools of trade and trailers?
Most insurance companies will not cover tools of trade under a car insurance policy, meaning that you will have to seek the services of a specialist insurer.
In terms of trailers, some companies will offer a limited degree of coverage for accidental damage caused to your trailer while it was connected to your vehicle.
What if I am travelling overseas?
Most car insurance policies only provide coverage while your vehicle is being driven in Australia. If you're overseas, the policy doesn't cover the vehicle or the personal liability of the driver.
What happens if my car is a write off?
In some cases, the damage to a vehicle is so severe that it's not economical or safe to attempt to repair it. If the insurer feels this is the situation, your vehicle will be declared a write-off and you will receive the amount covered or the agreed value.
If you have comprehensive insurance, some policies allow for the replacement of your car with a new vehicle and coverage of on-road costs, if your original vehicle was declared a write-off after being stolen or damaged within the first two years of its first registration.
Will I be covered for driving off-road?
Some insurance policies will provide coverage for your vehicle if you are driving off-road but you do have to take some precautions to make sure your car is safe.
What restrictions are there?
There are certain restrictions when it comes to the type of coverage a car insurance policy offers. While these vary between insurance companies some of them include:
- You are not covered if the accident was caused by a fault with your vehicle that you were aware of and chose to ignore;
- You are not covered if your car was damaged during a race, trial, test, competition or similar arena;
- You are not covered if your car was lost or damaged with intent either by you or a person acting on your behalf;
- You are not covered for any further loss or damage caused to your vehicle if you drive it after it has been in an accident.
Car insurance is a very important way to protect your asset and stay out of debt, so be sure you know what your policy covers, and how it works in the event of an accident.
* The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder.com.au 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.