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Private car insurance covers the motor insurance needs of individuals and businesses using private cars, as opposed to goods carrying vehicles, passenger carrying vehicles, motorcycles and special types vehicles.

Why do I need private car insurance?

There is legal requirement to have a minimum level of third party insurance in respect of the use of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place. Using a vehicle without such insurance is illegal.

Even if a vehicle is owned but not in use, as part of Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) it is a legal offence to keep a vehicle without insurance unless you have notified DVLA that the vehicle is being kept off the road by means of a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN). More information may be found on our Continuous Insurance Enforcement page.

In respect of private cars, the legal requirement to have insurance is satisfied by private car insurance.

car-insuranceWhat does private car insurance cover?

The fundamental function of private car insurance is to meet the minimum requirements for insurance as set out in the Road Traffic Act.

Insurance that only meets the minimum legal requirements is referred to as Road Traffic Act cover. This level of cover of not generally available, and will be used a last resort by insurers when they cannot avoid giving cover due to their obligations as an authorised motor insurer.

The other function of private car insurance is to provide protection against loss or damage to the vehicle itself.

The three common levels of cover are:-

  • Third Party Only
  • Third Party, Fire & Theft
  • Comprehensive

Third Party Only

TPO insurance, as it is often referred to, covers the legal liability for injury to third parties and damage to third party property arising out of the use of the insured vehicle. The third party liability cover given exceeds the minimum insurance requirement of the Road Traffic Act in terms of the limits of indemnity provided and the cover being given whilst anywhere within the territorial limits and not just on a road or other public place as required by the Act. Third Party Only insurance provides no cover in respect of loss or damage to the insured vehicle itself.

Third Party, Fire and Theft

TPF&T insurance is Third Party Only cover with the addition of insurance against loss or damage to the insured vehicle by fire or by theft only. The cover is usually subject to an excess for fire or theft claims. Loss or damage to windscreens is generally not covered by Third Party, Fire & Theft insurance unless as a result of a fire or theft claim. (more information on third party fire and theft insurance)


Comprehensive insurance is Third Party, Fire and Theft cover with the addition of insurance against loss or damage to the insured vehicle by any cause not excluded by the policy, principally this provides cover to the insured vehicle as a result of an accident. In addition to the extra cover  for loss or damage to the insured vehicle, Comprehensive insurance can include additional covers such as windscreen, personal effects, personal accident and medical expenses. The cover is usually subject to an excess in respect of all claims for damage to the insured vehicle. Windscreen claims are subject to a lower excess and these claims do not affect the No Claim Discount.

car-insuranceHow do I buy private car insurance?

Private car insurance is extremely competitive with a large number of providers. Quotations can be obtained on-line or by speaking to a provider.

Standard risks should be able to obtain competitive quotations on-line. If the risk is non-standard, due to matters such as claims, convictions or type of vehicle, there is less likelihood of an on-line solution and a specialist broker may be required.

At Blackfriars we provide an instant on-line car insurance quote service that compares the costs and cover from a panel of leading insurers. If you prefer you may call our motor insurance team directly to discuss your private car insurance requirements and they will be pleased to provide you with our best terms, this is particularly useful for clients with risks that are more difficult to obtain quotes for and non-standard motor insurance requirements.