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Third-party, fire and theft car insurance

​​​Third-party, fire and theft insurance is a level of protection for your car that only pays out in certain circumstances. Read on to find out what it covers and whether this type of policy is right for you.

​​​Third-party, fire and theft insurance is a level of protection for your car that only pays out in certain circumstances. Read on to find out what it covers and whether this type of policy is right for you.

Written by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
11 OCTOBER 2023
6 min read
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What is third-party, fire and theft insurance?

Third-party, fire and theft insurance is the mid-level of cover you can get for your car. It gives you more cover than basic third-party insurance, but not as much as a comprehensive policy. Crucially, it won’t pay out if your own car is damaged in an accident.

It’s illegal to drive on UK roads without at least third-party car insurance.

What does third-party, fire and theft cover?

As suggested by the name, third-party, fire and theft car insurance covers you for three specific circumstances.

Third parties

A third party is simply another person involved in an incident. For example, if an accident is your fault, your insurance provider would pay for:

  • Repairs to damage done to the other person’s vehicle or property
  • Medical and injury compensation costs to the other person if they were hurt in the accident. 

Fire

You’ll be covered for:

  • The cost of repairing your car if it’s damaged by fire, whether accidental or deliberate. In the case of arson, you’d need to report it to the police and give your insurance provider a crime number. 

Theft

You’ll be covered for: 

  • The cost of replacing your car if it’s stolen and can’t be recovered
  • The cost of repairing damage to your car after theft or attempted theft – if a window gets smashed, for example. 

Some third-party, fire and theft policies also cover car audio, sat nav and entertainment systems if they’re stolen or damaged because of theft or fire.  

What is not covered by third-party, fire and theft insurance?

Third-party, fire and theft insurance typically won’t cover:

  • Damage to your own vehicle in an accident that was your fault – you’ll need to pay for repairs out of your own pocket
  • Damage to your personal possessions (your phone, for example) in a crash
  • Repair or replacement costs if you left your car unsecured – if you left it unlocked or forgot to close a window, for example
  • Medical costs if you’re injured in an accident.

If the accident is someone else’s fault, their insurance should cover you.

What’s the difference between third-party insurance, third-party, fire and theft, and comprehensive insurance?

Here’s how third-party, fire and theft insurance compares with the other two levels of cover:

Third-party only

Third-party car insurance is the minimum level of car insurance the law allows. It covers damage to another person’s car, along with compensation costs for injuries to other people. 

This type of insurance won’t cover damage to your own vehicle or your own injuries, if the accident is deemed to be your fault. You’re also not covered if your car is stolen or damaged by fire.

Comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive insurance is the highest level of protection. This gives you the benefits of third party, fire and theft, but also covers you and your car, even if the accident was your fault. It’s the ‘bells and whistles’ insurance option and, in fact, some providers only offer this type of cover.

Is third-party, fire and theft car insurance the right policy for me?

This will come down to your personal circumstances. Third party, fire and theft insurance may be a good option if: 

  • Your car is cheap to repair and spare parts are plentiful
  • Your car isn’t worth much and you can afford to replace it if it’s written off
  • You’re confident repairing the vehicle yourself
  • You don’t drive very often.

If you’re not prepared to pay for your own repairs if you have an accident, third-party, fire and theft insurance might not be the way to go.

One solution is to take out third-party, fire and theft insurance, and pay into a high-interest savings account so you have money set aside if you need to repair your car. If that day never comes, you can then spend the money as you like.

Is third-party, fire and theft car insurance cheaper than comprehensive car insurance?

You’d be forgiven for assuming that third-party, fire and theft policies are cheaper than comprehensive car insurance. But that’s no longer necessarily the case, so it’s important to compare quotes from a range of insurance providers.

Third-party policies tend to attract higher-risk drivers, meaning insurance providers are more likely to have to pay out. This is why third-party, fire and theft could actually cost you more than comprehensive insurance.

According to our data, in December 2023 the average comprehensive premium was £950[1], while third party fire and theft came in at £1,476[2] on average.

However, the price you’re quoted depends on your individual circumstances, so it’s always worth comparing to find the right policy for you at a price you can afford.

[1] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £949.59 for their comprehensive car insurance in December 2023.

[2] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £1,475.12 for their third party fire and theft car insurance in December 2023.

Frequently asked questions

What is third-party damage?

Third-party damage is damage to someone else’s property. This is most likely to be another car, but also includes damage to someone’s wall or fence, for example. Third party damage doesn’t include damage to your own car.

Third-party insurance may also cover compensation costs if you injure someone.

How much does third-party, fire and theft insurance cost?

How much you pay for your policy will depend on your individual circumstances. But according to our data, 51% of our customers were quoted less than £1,476 for their third-party fire and theft car insurance in December 2023.

What factors determine the price of third-party, fire and theft car insurance?

How much you pay for your car insurance depends on many factors.

These include your age, driving history, where you live and your annual mileage.

Your premium is based on how likely your insurance provider thinks you are to make a claim and how big a pay-out they’re likely to have to make.

Find out more in our guide to how car insurance premiums are calculated.

Can I get a no-claims discount with third-party, fire and theft insurance?

Most car insurance policies let you build up a no-claims discount, and third party, fire and theft cover is no exception. Check with your insurance provider for details. 

Can I drive with third-party, fire and theft insurance?

Yes, this is more than the legal minimum needed to drive in the UK. It’s also more than enough cover to drive your car in most European countries.

Does third-party, fire and theft cover recovery?

If you don’t have comprehensive cover, it’s likely you’ll have to pay for your vehicle to be recovered if you can’t drive it after an accident. That’s unless someone else is at fault or your policy specifically says you’re covered for this.

Is third-party, fire and theft better for young drivers?

Third-party, fire and theft probably isn’t better for young drivers. 

If by ‘better’ you mean cheaper, paying for less cover may seem like a way to get cheaper car insurance. However, it could actually be cheaper to get a comprehensive policy.

‘Better’ could also mean more protection. As a young driver, with less experience, getting a comprehensive policy is probably a more sensible idea. This is because it will cover any damage to your car if you’re involved in an accident.

Given that younger drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident, this could save you money in the long run, too.

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