Buying a car is exciting. Many people spend weeks test driving
different models to find a vehicle that suits their budget,
lifestyle and personality.
You should also think hard about car insurance. The type of
cover you take out will affect the overall and ongoing cost of your
vehicle. Always shop around for insurance before you go to the car
In addition, there are a number of things young drivers
need to consider.
Types of car insurance
Compulsory third party (CTP) insurance is the most important
type of car insurance. It covers death and injury to people if you
are involved in an accident. Each state and territory has different
rules relating to this type of cover. Go to your
state or territory traffic/transport authority for
information on CTP car insurance. These are listed in the 'related
links' at the end of this page.
Additional types of car insurance include:
- Third party property insurance - covers
damage to other people's property (e.g. their car or home) and your
own legal costs
- Third party, fire and theft insurance - covers
damage to other people's property, and provides limited cover for
damage to your own car caused by theft or fire
- Comprehensive insurance - covers damage
to your own car and other people's property if your car is in an
accident (including fire) as well as theft
The table below shows the coverage offered by different types of
||Damage to your car
||Damage to other people's property (e.g. other cars)
||Damage or loss caused by theft of your car
||Injuries or death to other people in an accident
|Compulsory third party
|Third party property
|Third party property, fire and
Some third party property policies include an 'uninsured
motorist extension' that covers you if your car is damaged in
accident and you're not at fault.
Car insurance for people on low incomes
If you are on a low income or your car is not worth much,
it's still worth insuring if you don't have the money to replace
it. Good Shepherd Microfinance has worked with insurance companies
to create affordable and simple insurance policies for cars
worth up to $5,000. These policies have flexible payments
options and premiums can even be deducted from some Centrelink
benefits. Find out more about the Good Insurance program on the Good Shepherd
Some car dealers may offer you add-on insurance or insurance
extras to add onto your car loan. Some of this insurance is not
very good value and you may already have some of this cover. Find
out more about the insurance extras sold by car
Need help to factor in the ongoing costs associated with buying
MoneySmart Cars app
What type of insurance do I
By law you are required to have CTP insurance. This is sometimes
known as a green slip.
On top of CTP cover, decide what level of additional cover you
need. Ask yourself:
- If I crash into a luxury sports car will I be able to afford
- Is my car likely to be broken into?
- How will I get around if my car is stolen or written off?
For most people, having (at least) third party property
insurance is the way to go because it means you won't have to pay a
hefty sum for someone else's damaged vehicle.
Case study: Richie's lack of insurance gets him into debt
decided not to get any extra insurance on top of his CTP because
his car was very old. A few months later, he hit a brand new sports
car, which needed $20,000 worth of repairs.
Because he was not insured for damage to other cars, Richie had
to take out an expensive personal loan and work extra hours to pay
off the debt over 5 years.
How to choose an insurance
Insurance policies for cars are based on either 'agreed' or
'market' value. An agreed value policy has a set dollar value for
your vehicle. Market value policies value your car based on the
make, model and condition. The agreed value is usually higher than
the market value.
When comparing the cost of different car insurance policies,
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. Also, check the wording of your
policy to make a fully informed decision about the impact a 'no
claims discount' may have on your premium.
Tips for saving on car insurance premiums:
- Drive safely to give yourself the best chance of having a good
- Shop around and compare premiums for the same type of
- Bundle your insurance with one insurer to get discounts
- Add security devices to your car
- Don't make unnecessary modifications to your car
Make sure you understand the level of cover before signing up.
Below are some typical car insurance exclusions to watch out
- Damage from mechanical failure, modifications, depreciation,
rust and wear and tear
- Lost wages if you can't drive
- Damage caused because your car was unsafe or in a race
- Intentional damage
- Damage caused if the driver was unlicensed, drunk or under the
influence of drugs
- The driver wasn't covered by the policy
Be honest with your
Always 'tell it like it is' because making a mistake in the
information you give your insurer, whether it's deliberate or not,
can affect the premium you pay. Provide truthful information at all
times. If you don't the insurer might refuse to pay when you try to
make a claim.
Also inform your insurer if your circumstances change. For
example, if you:
- Modify your car (e.g. rims, tinted windows, woofers and
- Move house
- Have additional drivers
- Use your car for work
study: Jimmy's claim is rejected
Jimmy bought a new car and took out comprehensive insurance. He
decided to add a spoiler and lower the car a few inches to give it
a more distinctive look. But when the car was damaged, his claim
was rejected because he had not informed his insurer of the
Making a claim
Check the wording of your policy to understand the impact making
a claim has on your no claims discount and premium, as well as what
excess you will pay.
If you have an accident, contact your insurer straight away.
Depending on how serious the accident is, you may need to fill out
a police report. Get details from any other parties involved. When
you're making the actual claim, put in as much detail as
Claims for some incidents may result in you paying multiple
excesses. Check your policy to see what your excess will be for
Selecting the right insurance for your car,
motorbike, truck or van is very important and could save you lots
of money if something goes wrong. At the very least you should
always consider getting third party property cover so you don't end
up with a big debt if you're in an accident.
Last updated: 30 Jan 2017