Car insurance

Levels of car insurance explained

Once you’ve found your ideal car, the next step is to find insurance. Here’s a guide to car insurance options in Ireland and how to choose the right one for you.

Third Party Only

Compensates third parties if you cause an accident. Damage to your car won’t be covered. It’s the minimum legal requirement.

3rd Party, Fire & Theft

Covers third parties plus protection for damage to your vehicle caused by fire or theft. Damage by vandalism isn’t covered.


Covers all parties involved in accidents, your car and belongings. Plus theft and damage caused by vandalism.

Three main types of car insurance offer different levels of protection. The more fully you’re covered, the more you’ll usually pay for your premium.

What is third party only cover?

Third party cover is the minimum legal level of car insurance you can get in Ireland, so you must have at least third party insurance to drive your car on the road.

What’s covered

  • Damage to someone else’s car or property
  • Injury caused to another person
  • Injury caused to your passengers

What’s not covered

  • Any damage to your car or property
  • Your own injuries
  • Car theft

What is third party, fire and theft cover?

This cover has all the benefits of third party insurance and adds cover for fire damage and theft. This means if your car is stolen or damaged by fire in an accident you can claim for damages.

What’s covered

  • Theft & theft damage
  • Fire damage
  • Damage to someone else’s car or property
  • Injury caused to another person
  • Injury caused to your passengers

What’s not covered

  • Damage to your car not caused by fire or theft
  • Your own injuries

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What is comprehensive cover?

Comprehensive car insurance offers the most complete financial protection for you and your vehicle.

It is often the most expensive type of insurance because it offers the most thorough level of cover.

As well as covering third parties, fire damage and theft, you’re also covered for damage to your car in the event of an accident or vandalism.

Plus, unlike the other types of car insurance, if you cause an accident or damage your car you’re covered regardless of whose fault it was.

What’s covered

  • Theft & theft damage
  • Fire damage
  • Damage to someone else’s car or property
  • Injury caused to another person
  • Injury caused to your passengers
  • Damage to your car caused by vandalism
  • Accidental damage to your car (even if it’s your fault)

What’s not covered

  • Personal injury*

* Some comprehensive policies may also cover personal injury, so check the policy schedule before adding as an extra benefit.

Is comprehensive insurance worth it?

If you have a brand new car and commute daily or drive as part of your job, a comprehensive policy could give you peace of mind. However, third party insurance may provide adequate cover if you drive a cheap car and only drive occasionally.

If you can afford it, it’s worth spending more on comprehensive car insurance and any extra benefits you need because you never know what’s around the corner.

Optional extra cover benefits

Some extra benefits come as standard with a comprehensive policy, but you’ll have to pay more for others, so it’s worth comparing details before choosing a policy.

The cost of benefits also varies between insurers, so always shop around to get quotes from different insurers before buying.

The sort of extra benefits on offer are:

  • Replacement car
  • Replacement locks or key rescue
  • Breakdown rescue cover
  • Windscreen cover
  • European travel
  • Excess free claims
  • Legal expenses cover
  • Protected no claims discount

What else affects your quote price?

Comprehensive cover is usually, but not always, the most expensive type of policy, though other factors can affect the price too. They include:

  • Your age
  • Your car and how you use it
  • Your claims history

Find out more about what affects the price of cover in our guide, How your car affects the price of car insurance.

The average cost of car insurance in Ireland


Comprehensive cover is typically the most expensive and accounts for 83% of all premiums. Source: NCID Private Motor Insurance Report Central Bank of Ireland

Car Insurance Family Cover

Should you buy the cheapest cover?

We rely on our cars for life’s essentials like getting to work, shopping and taking children to school, so before you buy, consider

  • your lifestyle and driving habits
  • the age and price of your vehicle
  • how much you can spend

Choose the level of insurance that meets your needs within a budget you can afford.

Other types of car insurance in Ireland

Here are some other types of cover designed for specific vehicles or special circumstances.

Young driver’s insurance

If you’re under 25, car insurance is more expensive because new drivers are considered more of a risk on the road, but there are ways to make it more affordable.

Visit our Young Drivers page for tips on finding good value car insurance for under 25s.

Black box insurance

This type of cover uses a telematics device to monitor your driving habits and set your premiums based on how safely you drive.

Telematics uses GPS technology to monitor:

  • Journey data
  • Driving data
  • Road data

Young drivers can sometimes qualify for cheaper insurance if a black box is installed in their car. Check out our guide on black box insurance to learn how it works.

Classic car insurance

You may qualify for classic car insurance if you have a vintage car or it’s over 25 years old.

Classic car insurance is usually cheaper than standard car insurance due to the lower likelihood of an accident or damage.

Insurers will have different definitions or rules for eligibility, so it’s worth gathering quotes from several insurers to find the best insurance for your classic car.

Find out more and get the best classic car quotes on our classic car insurance page.

Multi-car insurance

If you have more than one car registered at your address, you could save money by insuring all vehicles with the same insurer.

This is known as multi-car insurance and could earn you a discount of up to 15% if you insure all cars on one policy. It’s ideal for families, couples and co-habitants who live in one household and all own a car.

Learn more about getting a multi-car quote on our multi-car insurance page.

Temporary car insurance

This type of cover can last from one hour to several months. It’s handy if you need to borrow someone else’s car for a short period, driving a car home after purchase, or for occasional use of a vehicle you keep off the road.

Although short-term cover isn’t available in Ireland at the moment, temporary car policies are usually only offered as comprehensive cover.

Check out our complete guide to car insurance for everything you need to know about covering your vehicle.

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Tips for choosing the right level of cover

Before you buy car insurance, think about your needs, weigh up the pros and cons of each type and decide how much you can afford.

If you’re still not sure which insurance to buy, consider these questions:

  • How much is your car worth? If your car doesn’t have much value, weigh up how much you want to pay for cover.
  • Do you use your car for work or to commute? A more comprehensive policy will give you peace of mind if you drive often, or your vehicle is vital for work. If you only drive occasionally, the likelihood of an accident or damage is lower.
  • What are the chances of vandalism or theft? If you live in a high crime area, then a greater level of cover may pay off in the long run.
  • Where do you keep your car? If you have a garage or off-street parking, your car is less likely to suffer damage or vandalism.
  • How have you financed your car? If you bought your car with a finance option, you may be required to get fully comprehensive cover until the loan has been paid in full.
  • Do you need or want any particular benefits? If you need a specific benefit but can’t afford expensive cover, consider opting for Third Party and just pay for the extra.
  • What is your claims history? If you have not claimed for several years, you may be entitled to a no claims discount, which will save you money and make a higher level of cover more affordable.

Car insurance types FAQs

Does comprehensive cover include flood damage?

In most cases, yes, you can claim for flood damage. But you must prove you’ve taken every precaution to safeguard your car from harm.

If the insurer judges that you’ve taken a risk, for instance, deliberately driving your car through a flooded road, you may not be covered for any damage caused.

Does comprehensive insurance cover passengers for personal injury?

No, they are not automatically covered for personal injury, even if the accident wasn’t your fault. You may want to consider opting for personal injury as an extra benefit if it is not included as standard. Check with your insurer.

Can you drive another car with comprehensive insurance?

It depends on the insurer. Some insurance policies include this benefit as a standard feature, but others will require you to add it as an optional extra.

What is a no claims discount?

It’s a discount based on the number of years you’ve held a policy without making a claim. The reduction in your premium is based on the number of claim-free years you have. For example:

No.of years with no claims % discount  
2 years 5%  
5 years 10%  
10 years 15%  

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