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Compare a wide range of car insurance policies on RateCity. Search by state and insurance features to find a provider that can quote for your individual situation.

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Updated 21 Jul, 2024
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What is car insurance?

All drivers face a certain level of risk each time they get behind the wheel. If you're involved in a car accident and are the at-fault driver, your car insurance policy could help pay for the resulting expenses. In other words, car insurance provides financial protection against potential damages, losses, and liabilities associated with owning or operating a vehicle. However, it’s important to recognise that the scope of your coverage varies based on the type of insurance policy you select. 

When seeking the best car insurance policy for you and your situation, it could help to compare quotes online. This comparison not only helps you understand the coverage offered by different insurance companies but also helps you find the most suitable price for your situation.

Additionally, remember to read the insurer's Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) thoroughly for a detailed understanding of the exact limits, inclusions, and exclusions. You can also explore customer reviews and ratings to ensure you choose a reliable and customer-friendly insurance provider. 

What types of car insurance do providers offer?

There are four main types of car insurance:

1. Compulsory third party (CTP)

CTP insurance is a base level of car insurance that's mandated by law for vehicle owners in all Australian states and territories. Also referred to as a 'green slip', it only covers injuries to other people involved in a road accident if you are the at-fault driver. Your own injuries typically won't be covered by a CTP insurance policy, although some insurers may offer optional extra coverage. Only specific insurers who are licensed to provide green slips offer CTP insurance policies.

2. Third party property damage

If you also want coverage for any damage your vehicle may cause to another person's car or property, you can opt for a third party property damage insurance policy. Some third party property damage policies will also cover damage to your car if it's hit by an uninsured driver, but not if you're at fault.

3. Third party property, fire and theft

Some insurers may let you add fire damage and theft coverage to your third party car insurance policy. This extended policy may also offer limited coverage for any damage you suffer in accidents caused by other drivers. It could also cover other expenses, such as a hire car if your car is stolen, or towing a damaged vehicle.

4. Comprehensive car insurance

A comprehensive car insurance policy is the most exhaustive and in turn often the most expensive type of insurance. It covers damages to both you and the other person involved in an accident if you are at fault. Damage to your car from extreme weather events including floods, storms, and bushfires is also covered, similarly to how home insurance can protect homes from natural disasters.

Comprehensive car insurance policies may also include, within limits, coverage for any of your personal or work-related items that may have been damaged while in the car at the time of an accident. Window glass breakage and emergency repairs, or ride sharing costs may also be covered in some policies. If you take out comprehensive car insurance on a new car and it's written off within the first two years, you may be eligible for a new replacement car.

Optional extras

In addition to these preset types of insurance, many providers will also offer add-on coverage for a few other incidents. For example, insurance with roadside assistance can be helpful if you need a jump start, tire change or towing.

How much does car insurance cost in Australia?

The cost of car insurance premiums (which is the recurring amount you pay an insurer to cover you) can vary greatly due to a number of factors, including the following:

  • Type of car insurance: CTP insurance policies tend to have lower premiums, while comprehensive car insurance policies generally come at the highest cost.
  • Driver's age: Young drivers are generally seen as a higher risk to insurers due to their lack of experience and therefore may be charged a higher premium than more mature and experienced drivers.
  • Driving history: If you have a history of driving infringements and/or have made car insurance claims in the past, this may negatively affect how much you pay. In contrast, those with a clean driving record may be rewarded with lower premiums.
  • Type of car: More expensive cars such as luxury vehicles often cost more to insure, as they will generally be more costly to repair or replace. Performance vehicles may also push up your premium.
  • Your location and where you park your car: The area you live in will have an impact on your premium, as will your parking situation. Insurers may charge higher premiums for areas prone to natural disasters, high crime rates, or heavy traffic due to elevated claim risks. Furthermore, if your car is parked in a lock-up garage most of the week, it's likely to score you a lower premium than if it were parked on the street—particularly in an area with high crime rates. 

Your car insurance premium could cost you only a few hundred dollars, while another driver may pay well over $1,000. It just depends on the factors listed above. However, insurance providers will all charge different premiums based on their own internal metrics and analysis of your personal information. Because of this, you might like to consider comparing personalised quotes from a number of different providers to find the policy that works best for your personal financial situation. 

What is car insurance excess?

Car insurance excess is a fixed amount of money that you are required to pay your insurer when you make a claim. The figure, which is an amount agreed to when you sign up to a new policy, is used to pay for part of your repairs. For example, if your excess is $1000 and the repair costs are $2500, you'll be out of pocket $1000 and your insurer will cover the remaining $1500. 

The amount of excess you pay directly relates to the cost of your insurance premium. Agreeing to a higher excess will bring your monthly premium down, while opting for a lower excess will mean paying a more costly premium. You will generally be able to decide what's right for you, but the insurance provider will typically have lower and upper limits to how much excess you pay.

Once you know what your excess is, it might be worth considering putting aside that amount in savings if possible, so that it's there if or when you need it.

How do I compare car insurance?

There's no single best car insurance product on the market - it's more about figuring out what works best for your personal circumstances and requirements. In order to find what's best for you, you'll need to consider your budget, age, the type of car you drive and the level of risk you are willing to take. 

Your best car insurance option will usually combine the most appropriate coverage tailored to your needs with a competitive premium and excess. Additionally, excellent customer service and transparent policy can help make a provider a stand out in your short list. You'll likely find it easier to compare car insurance quotes if you're comparing apples with apples. 

Here are some of the factors you may want to consider in order to narrow down your search: 

Type of coverage 

By now you should have a general understanding of the differences between CTP insurance, comprehensive insurance, and everything in between - including add-ons such as roadside assist. A reasonable first step to take when comparing car insurance is to decide which of these types of coverage may work best for you. 

Cost of premium 

Your insurance premium is the recurring payment you'll be charged by your insurer. Comparing the cost of the premium charged by one provider to the next may help you compare value, but be sure to factor in the correlating amount of excess applicable for each so that your comparison is fair. 

Cost of excess 

It's important to pay attention to how much your car insurance excess is, so that you're not taken by surprise when you go to make a claim. Keep in mind that if your excess is high, you'll likely be unable to make a claim for smaller accidents with less costly repairs. 

Market value vs agreed value  

If you're taking out comprehensive car insurance, you can choose to cover the car (in the event that it is written off) for either the market value or an agreed sum

A market value car insurance policy, which tends to be the default option, will require your insurer to pay the amount your car would sell for on the open market. The insurer will estimate this amount based on the market value at the time of the accident. 

An agreed value policy, on the other hand, allows you to specify the amount covered. This option gives you the certainty of knowing the amount you’ll receive from the insurer in the event you have to file a claim. 

There are pros and cons to both options, so it's important to do your research before choosing what might work best for you. 

The insurance provider 

Selecting the right car insurance provider is also a pivotal decision in the comparison journey. Your quality of customer service can vary, affecting your experience during the claims process and when seeking assistance. Be sure to check customer reviews and ratings to gain insights into the level of service provided by different insurers. 

How do I make a car insurance claim?

If you're involved in an accident or your car is damaged or stolen, it's important to work through each step of the car insurance claim process carefully. Consider the following example:

  1. Ensure you and any other parties involved are safe.
  2. If you cannot come to an agreement as to who was at fault, you may need to call the local police for advice.
  3. Exchange details with the other driver, including insurance information, contact details and personal identification.
  4. Take photos or video of any damage to yours and the other driver's car.
  5. Write down details of the accident such as the exact location, date, and time it occurred.
  6. Gather your notes and photo evidence and submit your claim to your insurance provider. You can typically do this online via your provider's website. Alternatively, you could contact them directly over the phone for help.
  7. The insurance provider will seek to confirm who caused the accident and work on settling the claim by negotiating with the other driver’s insurer.
  8. If you are the at-fault driver, you will need to pay an excess at this stage before the claim can be settled.

Keep in mind that the sooner you can report to your insurer, and the more details you can provide, the faster your claim is likely to be processed.

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