A simples guide

Voluntary and compulsory excess

What is voluntary excess? It could be one of those car related questions you’ve always wanted to ask but felt too embarrassed– so here’s a quick run-down.


An excess of what?

Your car insurance will have an ‘excess’. This is the amount you have to personally pay yourself if you make a claim. Imagine you smashed your light and dented your door trying to squeeze into a space that was clearly too small (tut, tut). You call your insurance provider and make a claim for the damage which comes to £700. Your voluntary excess is set at £200 which means that your insurance provider pays £500 and you cough up for the rest (your £200 voluntary excess).


Ok – but it’s voluntary excess isn’t it?

Nice try – and we see where you’re going with that. The ‘excess’ on your policy is actually made up of voluntary and compulsory excess added together. The compulsory bit is set by your insurance provider and what they charge depends on your personal circumstances, like how old you are.

The voluntary bit is the additional amount you’ve agreed to pay in the event of a claim. It’s voluntary because you can choose the amount; paying it however, is not voluntary.

Choosing a high voluntary excess could lower your premium (but remember – you’ll need to pay it, so make sure you can afford the total of any compulsory excess plus your voluntary excess. You can set the voluntary excess to zero but it potentially means a bigger premium.

If you make a claim that’s below your excess amount (so if your claim was for £150 but your excess £200) then your insurance provider will ask you to sort out the damage yourself. In reality, in this circumstance you wouldn’t make a claim. Harsh – but if everyone made claims for every tiny scratch and dent to their car, premiums would be astronomical for all of us.

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