I had a bump in the car and I’m not sure whether to get repairs done by my own insurers or the other party that was involved?

It is very important to receive the correct advice when considering this following a road traffic accident in a car or on a motorbike.

Firstly you need to understand the difference between fully comprehensive (“fully comp”) and third party. This often arises when taking out your insurance and you are asked which cover you would like and maybe are given two different quotes. People often elect for the cheapest which is inevitably third party without really understanding the difference.

Third Party:- this is the minimum requirement to be able to legally use a motor vehicle on a road. You are the first party, your insurers are the second party (to the policy or contract of insurance).  If  you then have an accident and cause damage to another person they then become the third party in your agreement with your insurers as they are entitled to claim from your policy. That is why they are called the third party. So if you only have third party cover and your vehicle is damaged you will either have to pay for the repairs yourself if you are at fault or claim from the other party’s insurers if you are not (you then become the third party to their insurance).

Fully comprehensive:- This cover is more expensive but as it says it covers everything. This means that if you have an accident and sustain damage your insurers will repair it whether it was your fault or not. You may however have to pay an excess towards the repairs which you can claim from the other party if not at fault.

The decision to have your repairs done third party or fully comp involves the following pros and cons:-

Third party

  1. You will only be able to claim if you were not at fault. You will have to approach the other partry’s insurers and as you are not their client they may not give you a good service. If their is any dispute on liability they may delay authorising them until this is sorted out which could be months.
  2. As you are not claiming on your insurance your no claims bonus is unlikely to be affected.
  3. You will have no courtesy car provided so you may have transport difficulties. You may however have a car on “credit hire” as there are firms set up for this. They will provide you with a car and claim the costs as part of your claim. This area of law is very complicated and you need specialist advice if considering credit hire.
    You may have to wait longer
  4. You will not have to pay an excess.

Fully Comp

  1. Your insurers will have your car collected and repaired and probably will supply you with a courtesy car. That courtesy car may not be suitable however so you may need to consider credit hire if you need a better or more appropriate temporary replacement.
  2. You will have to pay an excess.
  3. Your no claims position will be affected at least until the claim is over.
  4. The repairs will normally be done quicker but the garage doing them will have been forced to accept reduced rates for the work so sometimes corners are cut and repairs are substandard.

It is very difficult to give general advice as to the best decision for you. However if circumstances are clear cut and the third party insurers are good you may consider this route. Alternatively if there is some doubt over blame a fully comp claim would probably be the best.

It is always worth getting expert advice very early on in a case as a bad decision on day one can be very costly.