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Car insurance: add-ons, fees and charges

Discover how to negotiate the various add-ons available and see which insurers charge the most in admin fees.

In this article
What is a car insurance 'add-on'? Types of car insurance add-on
What car insurance fees do I pay? Car insurance fees compared

What is a car insurance 'add-on'?

Even comprehensive car insurance doesn't cover you for every eventually. 

Car insurers offer additional elements of cover, which are optional. If you want to add them to your policy, you'll have to pay extra on your premium.

 

Types of car insurance add-on

Enhanced courtesy car cover

A courtesy car will usually be offered during a claim while your vehicle is in the garage for repairs. 

However, there can be differences between insurers as to whether the availability of the replacement car is guaranteed and whether it will resemble your own (in terms of size and make), or whether you would get one for a period of time if your car was a total loss or stolen.  

Where the bare minimum is on hand as standard, you may have the option of enhancing your replacement car cover for an extra premium.

Find out more: Best and worst car insurance

Legal expenses insurance

Commonly sold alongside car and home insurance policies, legal expenses insurance (LEI) covers the cost of pursuing legal action.

With a car policy, for instance, this might come in handy when trying to reclaim excesses from another driver's insurer - though LEI can be used in various situations. 

Cover levels vary between £50,000 and £100,000 (usually for around £30) - though you can't draw on it automatically. The insurer must be satisfied that you have a 'reasonable' prospect of winning your case.

Find out more: Legal expenses insurance explained

Breakdown cover

Breakdown cover is often sold as add-on with car insurance - often with different levels of cover available. For instance, some policies provide roadside assistance while driving in Europe . 

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. 

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.

What car insurance fees do I pay?

Renewal fees 

Renewal fees are relatively rare and are usually charged by online brokers. For example, the AA charges £28 for customers to renew the policies of existing ones.

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. Aviva, for example, charges £42.56 if you can cancel at any point, but Age Co (formerly 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 it can prove expensive.

Paying monthly means taking out a high interest loan from your provider – sometimes with APRs as high as 40%.

Car insurance fees compared
10 best for fees
Provider APR Policy adjustment fee Duplicate document fee Cancellation fee after 14 day cooling off period Cancelling during 14 day cooling-off period Renewal fee Which? fee score
NFU Mutual 0.00% No fee No fee No fee No fee No fee 100%
Age Co / Age UK 17.50% No fee No fee No fee No fee No fee 96%
Direct Line Variable No fee No fee £48.16 No fee No fee 82%
John Lewis 23.50% £15 No fee £40 No fee No fee 80%
Co-op Insurance 19.50% £15 £15 £50 No fee No fee 78%
M&S Bank 23.50% £25 No fee £50 No fee No fee 77%
Tesco Bank 29.90% £25 No fee £40 No fee No fee 77%
AXA Variable £0 online/£10 by phone No fee £52.50 No fee No fee 76%
Swiftcover Variable £0 online/£10 by phone No fee £52.50 No fee No fee 76%
Sainsbury's Bank Variable £0 online/£25 by phone No fee £50 No fee No fee 76%
10 worst for fees
Churchill Variable £26.88 No fee £53.76 No fee No fee 67%
Privilege Variable £26.88 No fee £53.76 No fee No fee 67%
AA 26.90% £12.50-£25 No fee £30 £0-£15 £28 64%
RAC (Comprehensive policy) 30.90% £25 £3 £55 £25 No fee 61%
Rias 29.90% £0 online/£25 by phone No fee £50 £15 £20 61%
Esure 27.90% £26 No fee £60 £26 No fee 59%
Sheilas' Wheels 27.90% £26 No fee £60 £26 No fee 59%
Ageas 29.90% £0 online/£25 by phone No fee £50 £25 £20 58%
Saga 26.70% £25 No fee £50 £5 £25 58%
Quote Me Happy Variable £33.60 No fee £56 £28 No fee 55%
Swinton 35.60% £0 online/£25 by phone No fee £50 £25 £25 54%

Table correct at January 2019

We examined the fees and charges of 31 insurers. Each insurer was rated for each of its different fees compared with 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 as of January 2018.

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