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Personal accident cover for car insurance explained

Accidents are the last thing anyone wants to dwell on when they get behind the wheel. But personal injury cover on your car insurance could provide compensation to you, your partner or your passengers if they’re injured or killed in a car accident.

Read our guide to find out what personal accident car insurance covers and whether you need it.

Accidents are the last thing anyone wants to dwell on when they get behind the wheel. But personal injury cover on your car insurance could provide compensation to you, your partner or your passengers if they’re injured or killed in a car accident.

Read our guide to find out what personal accident car insurance covers and whether you need it.

Written by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
20 JULY 2023
8 min read
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What is personal accident cover on car insurance?

Personal accident car insurance – also known as personal injury car insurance – could offer financial protection for you or your loved ones, if you’re seriously injured or killed in a car accident.

It could pay out if you, the driver, suffer a life-changing injury or become permanently disabled as a result of a car accident. It could also provide financial compensation to your partner and family if a car accident causes your death.

What does personal injury car insurance cover?

Policies vary but personal accident car insurance typically only covers certain life-altering injuries or loss of life. Policies will typically pay out an agreed maximum amount depending on the type and severity of the injury sustained.

Personal injury payouts are designed to help you deal with the financial fallout after a serious injury or the death of a loved one. It could cover the expenses incurred because of an accident – like specialist medical treatment and physical therapy.

Crucially, it could also help cover any lost future earnings if you or your partner are no longer able to work as a direct result of the injury you’ve sustained.

What injuries are covered?

Personal injury car insurance typically pays out for:

  • Permanent loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Losing your limbs – if they need to be amputated
  • Losing the use of your limbs – if you suffer paralysis
  • Total disablement
  • Death.

More comprehensive personal accident car insurance policies might also include:

  • Losing your fingers or toes
  • Losing your hearing, in one or both ears
  • Losing your speech
  • Severe burns and scarring.

What isn’t covered by personal injury car insurance?

Personal injury cover won’t compensate you for less serious injuries, such as minor sprains, for example, or even broken bones. It also won’t usually cover you for any psychological trauma you suffer because of an accident.

Your personal accident cover could be invalidated under certain circumstances, for example, if:

  • You have an accident while driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • You’re driving without a valid licence
  • You drive without wearing your seatbelt
  • You’re taking part in rallies, races or speed tests
  • The accident or injury has been self-inflicted or is death by suicide.

In these instances, the insurance provider doesn’t have to pay out any compensation – and probably won’t.

Most personal accident policies specify that the injury must be ‘solely and directly’ caused by an accident. They’ll typically have an exclusion for death or injury that’s been caused by sickness, disease or any naturally occurring condition.

Do I need personal injury cover on my car insurance?

Personal injury cover could help provide peace of mind that you have financial backup to help take care of your family should the worst happen – or an injury prevents you from working.

In the UK, we’re lucky to have the free healthcare provided by the NHS, as well as an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to help those with illness and disabilities who are unable to work.

However, a personal injury lump sum could help with other expenses, such as sophisticated prosthetics if you lose a limb or adaptations to your home if you become a wheelchair user, for example.

Top tip:

If you’re concerned about broader risks to you or your family’s health, wellbeing and finances as a result of sickness or disease, it’s worth considering other kinds of personal protection policies, such as critical illness cover or accident, sickness and unemployment insurance.

Do I get personal accident cover with my car insurance?

It depends on the policy, but if you have comprehensive car insurance, it may already come with personal accident cover.

You can check if personal accident cover is included by reading your car insurance policy documents or contacting your insurance provider. If it isn’t already included, you might be able to add it on to your policy, but it could bump up your premiums.

Alternatively, you could look for a policy that includes this cover as standard. But levels of cover can vary significantly. So, when you’re comparing policies, make sure you understand exactly what’s covered and how much you could expect from a payout.

Should I consider taking out a separate personal accident insurance policy?

For the most comprehensive cover, it might be worth taking out a standalone personal accident insurance policy. This may be more comprehensive than an add-on to a car insurance policy.

Add-ons can also be restrictive when it comes to who is covered. Some policies might only cover the policyholder and their partner.

What should I look for when taking out personal accident car insurance?

When comparing your options, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who will the policy cover? Many people don’t realise that personal accident insurance could cover an individual, a couple or even the whole family.
  • Where will I be covered? Will the policy only cover accidents that happen in the UK? Or will the insurance provider compensate for accidents that happen abroad as well?
  • What injuries will be covered? Will you get compensation if you lose your hearing? Or if you lose a finger or toe? Grisly as it is, make sure you read the fine print.
  • What situations am I covered for? Are you covered for accidents that happen while waiting for help to arrive, for example? Or getting in and out of your car?
  • How much am I covered for? Personal injury policies usually pay out a fixed lump sum for specific injuries. But the lump sum amount offered can vary a lot between providers, so it’s worth comparing your options.

Top tip:

When working out how much cover you need, go through the consequences of an accident systematically to come up with a number.

Start with the direct implications and immediate financial consequences of each serious injury you want covered before moving on to the longer-term effects.

Don’t forget that you may have other policies that could impact your circumstances or those of your family, such as life insurance provided by your employer.


How much does personal accident cover cost?

It depends on the level of cover you choose and other factors – such as your age, where you live and your claims history.

How do I make a personal accident car insurance claim?

First, you or your representative should notify your insurance provider about the accident as soon as possible. They’ll advise you what to do next, based on their claims process.

Remember that you’ll have to prove any claim you make. So, it’s important to keep copies of any evidence or documentation you might need to support your claim. You should also keep any receipts for expenses you’ve incurred as a result of the accident.

Your insurance provider will check to make sure that the claim is valid under the terms and conditions of the policy. For example, they’ll want to make sure you weren’t driving under the influence of drink or drugs and that you were wearing a seatbelt. If you’ve broken these terms then your insurance provider won’t pay your claim.

If you want to make a claim for compensation against whoever caused the accident, this is a separate matter and you’ll need to take specialist legal advice. If you have legal expenses cover, talk to your provider and explain your situation.

For more information, read our guides to:

Top tip:

It’s worth putting together a document for your own use listing every call, letter or email exchanged between you and your insurance provider. Include notes on the details of that communication, so you can quickly see where you’re up to and what’s happened so far.

How much will I receive if I have to make a claim?

Your personal accident policy will set out exactly how much you should get in a particular set of circumstances or for a particular type of injury.

Maximum cover limits will vary policy by policy and the payouts on offer could range from £5,000 all the way up to £100,000. That’s why it’s so important to consider the level of cover when choosing your policy.

What is the personal injury discount rate and how does it affect personal injury claims?

The personal injury discount rate – also known as the Ogden rate – is used to calculate how much a personal injury claimant should receive in compensation.

Compensation paid out in personal injury claims settled in court is intended to make sure that the claimant is put in the same financial position they would’ve been in if they hadn’t had a life-changing injury.

It’s calculated to cover any costs involved in recovery, including loss of future earnings, treatment and future care costs. When a lump sum is agreed, the discount rate is applied to account for how the costs of goods and services are expected to change over time, as well as how much a claimant can expect to receive in interest if they invest that lump sum responsibly.

The discount rate is set by the UK government and is applied consistently across personal injury claim calculations.

The discount rate was last reviewed in 2019 and set at -0.25% in England and Wales.

Frequently asked questions

Will I get personal accident compensation if a car accident was my fault?

If you were at fault for the accident and you have personal accident cover with your car insurance policy, you should be able to claim, as long as:

  • Your injury or loss qualifies under the terms of your insurance policy
  • You didn’t break any of the conditions of your cover by, for example, not wearing your seatbelt.

If the car accident wasn’t your fault, then the driver at fault’s car insurance policy should pay out for any personal injury compensation claims.

Can I claim for injuries sustained in a car accident without personal injury car insurance?

Even if you don’t have personal accident cover, you still have the right to claim compensation for personal injury through legal action – if the accident wasn’t your fault. You’ll need to get legal advice as soon as possible after the accident as there are strict time limits in place for claims.

Pursuing a personal injury claim through the courts can be expensive. Legal expenses insurance could help you here if you have it as part of your car insurance.

What’s the difference between personal injury and personal accident car insurance?

You may see the terms personal injury and personal accident used interchangeably. In car insurance, this type of cover typically pays out if you suffer a serious injury or death as a result of a car accident.

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Kate Hughes - Insurance and finance expert

As an award-winning journalist, author and broadcast commentator, Kate has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She’s the former Money Editor for The Independent. Her work has appeared across the UK broadsheets as well as a number of international titles. Kate brings her financial expertise to inform her readers on ways to save money. She’s also written a book. ‘Going Zero: One Family’s Journey to Zero Waste and a Greener Lifestyle’ is available now.

Learn more about Kate

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