When buying car insurance, take time to compare the cost and understand what is (and is not) covered by different policies.
Types of car insurance
When deciding which type of insurance will suit you, think about whether you can live without your car if it’s written off or stolen. Also consider if you can afford to pay for the damage to someone else’s car if you have an accident.
Third party versus comprehensive insurance
- Compulsory third party (CTP) insurance — included in your car registration cost (except in New South Wales, where you buy it separately). Also called green slip insurance. It covers the costs of compensation claims if you injure or kill someone in a car accident.
- Third party property insurance — covers damage to other people’s property, including cars, when an accident is your fault.
- Third party property, fire and theft insurance — covers property damage, and your car if it’s stolen or damaged by fire.
- Comprehensive insurance — covers repairs to your car and repairs to other cars, even if the accident is your fault. It also covers your car if it’s stolen or damaged by fire, flood or vandalism.
How your car is valued
With comprehensive insurance, you can choose how your car is valued. The value is the amount you’ll get if your car is written off or stolen:
- Agreed value — a fixed amount that’s decided by you and your insurer.
- Market value — the amount your car would have sold for, at the time of the accident.
If you use the market value, you don’t know how much you’ll get if you claim, and you can’t change the amount. If you use an agreed value, you’ll pay a higher premium.
Cost of car insurance
The amount you pay each year for insurance is called a premium. The insurer works out your premium by estimating how likely it is that you’ll make a claim.
You may also have to pay an excess when you make a claim. The excess is the amount you agree to contribute towards the cost of a claim.
The premium and excess you pay will depend on your policy and on other factors, such as your age. For example, a driver under 25 may have to pay a higher excess. This is because people under 25 are involved in more accidents.
If you’re struggling to pay your car insurance premiums or excess, contact your insurer straight away. Explain your situation and tell them you would like to apply for financial hardship.
For example, they may provide assistance to meet your excess if you have an accident and you’re at fault and need to make a claim.
No claim bonus
Some policies include a no claim bonus. This means you pay a lower premium if you don’t make a claim for a certain period of time.
Read the policy to understand what claims affect your bonus and if there are any limits.
Paying for add-on insurance
Some car dealers offer add-on insurance when you buy a new or used car. These products are often not good value for money, for example the insurance extras sold by car dealers.
If you’re on a low income, Good Shepherd Microfinance offers affordable insurance policies for cars that are worth up to $5,000.
Getting the best deal on car insurance
To help you get the best deal on car insurance:
- Third party property insurance might be all you need if your car’s not worth much and you can live without it. It’s the cheapest option.
- Comprehensive insurance can save you money if you can’t afford to pay for repairs (to your or someone else’s car) or live without your car.
- Third party property, fire and theft insurance might suit you if you park on the street. It will save you money if your car gets stolen.
- Check if a no claim bonus will really save you money.
- Check the exclusions in your policy to see what you’re not covered for. For example, you might not be covered for rust or vandalism. This could be a problem if you park on the street.
- Ask insurers if they offer any discounts. For example, if you bundle other types of insurance with them, or install an alarm.
- Check if the insurer always charges an
, even if an accident isn’t your fault.
- Weigh up the difference between having a high premium and low excess, versus the opposite. You may be able to save on your premium by increasing your excess.
Compare car insurance policies
Get quotes from more than one insurer to find the best value for money, and a policy that suits your needs.
Comparison websites can be useful, but they are businesses and may make money through promoted links. They may not cover all your options. See what to keep in mind when using comparison websites.
Compare these features:
|No claim bonus||
Renewing you car insurance
Get quotes from a few other insurers to check you’re getting the best deal. You may end up paying more by staying with your current insurer.