With the current economic climate, many people will have found company benefits such as company cars severely cut back, while many more have been made redundant and currently face having no vehicle at all until buying their own. This creates a whole series of headaches for those used to the company comforts of not having to choose a make and model of car, as well as outlay for servicing and fuel. However, the biggest headache of all can be insurance, due to the enormous range of options available, and factors such as transferring no claims bonuses over. Essentially, there are three types of private cover. `Third party only` is the most basic level of insurance, and covers damage to another vehicle, injuries to other road users, pedestrians and passengers, and damage caused by trailers attached to the vehicle. As this type does not offer any protection for your own vehicle, it usually only considered in cases where repair of the vehicle is unlikely to be vital (e.g. a hobby car), or where the cost of repair is close to, or more than, the cost of the vehicle. The next level of cover available is `third party fire and theft`. This offers the same cover as third party only, but also includes some degree of protection for your vehicle against criminal activity against your property, and can be a very good way of keeping your premium down. However, if you`re buying a car as a replacement for a pre existing company car, it is likely you will need the vehicle constantly. This level of cover is unsuitable for frequent drivers on unavoidable trips, or drivers of expensive cars, as it does not cover any damage or repairs to your vehicle.
The highest level of cover, commonly called `fully comprehensive` will offer cover for accidental damage to the vehicle, to allow for any repair bills or medical expenses. However, policies will differ in just how `fully` comprehensive they are. Some may offer extra personal benefit in the event of an accident, or cover for belongings in the vehicle, while others will offer legal cover and extras such as free road side break down assistance. You should also be mindful to compare this type of policy in terms of the excess for any claims. It may be that the excess for a claim to a minor repair is not much less than the cost of the repair, reducing the value of the policy to you. You should also note whether the company offers protected no claims discount for particular types of claim, if you have built up a large bonus. If your insurance history has most recently been on a company policy, most insurers will allow you to apply this to a private policy, as long as you can prove you were covered under the policy for that length of time. Some require an official letter from the company insurers, while others will accept a letter directly from the company, if still trading. Note that some insurers will restrict the level of no claims bonus that may be transferred from a company policy (e.g. 5 years), although this will usually be sufficient to secure a significant discount. When looking for cover, try to think about your expected needs, and what you are willing to pay. Lower levels of cover may be more suitable for those seeking new driver car insurance, while comprehensive cover, with bonuses such as windscreen cover etc. may be wise if you can benefit from a transferred no claims discount
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