Car insurance: Car insurance: add-ons, fees and charges

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Buying car insurance may be quick but it's not always simple, as many companies offer a host of add-ons (some of which may be already included in your policy) as well as having a number of fees and charges (some of which may not be clear when you buy). 

But what are the common add-ons, fees and charges? And what should you look out for when you buy?

Common add-ons

Courtesy cars
A courtesy car is a replacement vehicle provided by your insurer if your car is off the road following an accident. Some insurers will provide a courtesy car as standard, but this is usually under the condition that your car is fixed by one of its approved repairers.

Some insurers offer a courtesy car only if your car is damaged in an accident, not if it's stolen. Others charge an extra premium if your car is stolen or if your vehicle is a total loss.

Find out more: Best and worst car insurance

Legal expenses insurance
Legal expenses insurance covers the cost of legal action resulting from a car insurance claim. The insurance covers events that arise from using your car, which includes taking action against a third party for negligence, or defending accusations made against you.

Breakdown cover
Breakdown cover is often sold as an add-on and can cost up to £35. Breakdown cover can be extended for driving in Europe to provide cover on the continent. The extension can cost up to £20 and usually covers you for up to 180 days in the EU.

Find out more: Best Buy car breakdown cover

Personal accident cover
Basic personal accident cover is included as standard in most policies. However, you can pay around £20 to increase the benefit to £100,000. This can also be bought separately. 

Find out more: How personal injury cover works

Windscreen cover
Windscreen cover, which is often included with a comprehensive policy, either repairs damage or replaces your windscreen.

Key cover
Key insurance helps pay for a replacement if your keys go missing. The cover provided will also pay for replacement locks. Some providers will also offer 24-hour assistance.

Fees

Set-up fees and renewal fees 
Set-up and renewal fees are relatively rare and are usually charged by online brokers. 1st Central, for example, charges £50 for both new business and to renew the policies of existing customers

Adjustment fees
Having to change your policy is likely to cost you. Amendments can range from changing the name on your policy (if you get married for instance) to adding a second driver. The fee could be as high as £35 and this is on top of any increase in premiums caused by the changes.

Cancellation and ‘cooling-off’ cancellation fees
If you decide you no longer want your policy, even within the 14-day cooling-off period, your insurer may charge you a fee. Under the law the fee has to be ‘reasonable’ but can still vary greatly from provider to provider. IGO4, for example, charges £75 if you can cancel at any point, but Age UK lets you cancel for free.

Pay monthly APR
Paying monthly for your car insurance may seem like a good way to spread the cost but can prove expensive. Paying monthly means taking out a high interest loan from your provider – sometimes with APRs as high as 40%.
 

10 Best For Fees
ProviderCredit Card FeeAPRPolicy adjustment feeDuplicate document feeCancellation fee [a]Renewal FeeCooling off cancellation feeWhich? fee score
Age UK0000000100%
NFU Mutual02.75%00000100%
Direct Line0Varies00£47.090087%
John Lewis023.50%£150£400082%
Tesco Bank029.90%£200£400082%
Toyota028.50%£12£10£350079%
Sainsbury's Bank024.38%£24.090£48.180079%
RIAS024%£250£350£1576%
Quote Me Happy1.5%Varies00£59.950£29.9874%
Churchill0Varies£26.280£52.560074%
Privilege025.70%£26.280£52.560074%
The Co-operative018.50%£15£15£500074%
10 Worst For Fees
The AA1.5%26.90%£12.5-£25£25£300£2565%
More Than1.25%26.30%0-£25£25£500£2564%
Hastings Direct1.25%14.90%£25£5£45£200-£2563%
Esure025.40%£26£26£550£2660%
Sheilas' Wheels025.40%£26£26£550£2660%
AXA2% up to £9.99Varies0/£100£52.500£3059%
Swiftcover2% up to £9.99Varies0/£100£52.500£3059%
Saga026.70%£250£50£20£558%
Zurich1.50%33%£25£25£500£2556%
Kwik Fit£5Varies£30£15£500£3044%
Additional Which? Recommended Providers
LV024.90%£150£400£4071%
Aviva1.50%20.50%£19.710£41.610£41.6170%

 

We examined the fees and charges of 31 insurers. Each insurer was rated for each of its different fees compared to what others charged in the survey. The Which? Fee Score is the insurer's combined total score as a proportion of the maximum score achievable. The table shows the insurers with the 10 highest and lowest fee scores, along with our six Which? Recommended Providers. Table correct at December 2015.

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Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.