Courtesy cars and hire cars. They’re the same, right?

WRONG! If a claim takes your car off the road, still being able to get around is probably going to be high up on your priority list. When it comes to your car insurance you’re likely to be in one of three buckets of cover in terms of what temporary replacement car you might get. Here, I’ll talk you through each so you can make an informed choice next time you’re arranging cover for your car.

Garage worker handing over keys
You'll be keen to get those keys if your car is off the road

Bucket 1: Your policy doesn’t provide any kind of courtesy or hire car in the event of a claim


Long gone are the days where courtesy car was a basic component of most comprehensive car insurance policies, so when you’re shopping around for cover, don’t assume it’s included. If it’s not mentioned as part of the quote, chances are it’s not included. If the claim isn’t your fault you may be provided with a temporary replacement car from the insurers of the at-fault party, but there is no duty on your insurer to provide you with one.


Bucket 2: Your policy will provide a temporary replacement car but only for certain claim types


A courtesy car tends to be supplied by the garage that’s doing the repairs to your car following a claim. If the garage isn’t doing a repair, there’s no need for them to give you a car. This is fine as long as your car is repairable, but what if it’s a total loss (write-off) or it’s been stolen? If your car’s not going in the garage, don’t expect to be driving away one of their courtesy cars to use until you get your claim settlement and can buy another car. It’s worth noting that you don’t necessarily need Comprehensive car insurance to have some courtesy car cover. Some insurers will provide a car on Third Party, Fire & Theft policies if your car is in for repair following a valid claim, such as repairing the locks after an attempted theft. Also keep an eye out for terms such as ‘subject to availability’ or ‘guaranteed courtesy car’. Just because your claim happened this morning doesn’t mean a garage can start your repair this afternoon and give you a courtesy car.

Bucket 3: Your policy will provide a replacement car for most claim types, but may have restrictions on how long you can use it for


As we saw with the second bucket, not all claim types result in repairs. This is where hire car covers tend to prove their value. Hire cars can be quickly sourced from nationwide suppliers at a moment’s notice and will generally be provided for most claim types. If your car is repairable, you won’t necessarily have to wait for repairs to begin before you get your hire car. Some will set a time limit on how long you can have the car for so keep an eye out for terms such as ‘for full duration of repair if using an approved repairer’ or ‘up to 14 days’. Some covers will also let you keep the temporary hire car for a period of time after a total loss settlement to give you time to find and buy a new car.


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