Courtesy car vs car hire explained

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Someone handing a car key to a woman, a car in the background.

Most comprehensive car insurance and van insurance policies include a courtesy vehicle as a standard part of your policy. But it’s important to remember it might not be available after all insurable incidents, like if your car’s written off or stolen and unrecoverable.

Many policies offer an optional hire car or an enhanced courtesy car benefit which can give you extra cover if you need to claim.

What is courtesy car cover? 

In general, you’ll only be able to claim a courtesy car if your car is repairable after the incident.

Most insurers have a network of repairers they use. You’ll only be able to claim a courtesy car if you use one of these approved repairers: this is because that repairer will typically supply the courtesy car.

You wouldn’t be able to get a courtesy car if:

  • your vehicle’s written off 
  • it’s been stolen and is unrecoverable
  • you take your vehicle to a repairer your insurer hasn’t approved 
  • you’re outside the UK

What kind of courtesy car will I get?

The standard courtesy car is generally a small, 1-litre, three-door model with manual transmission like a Ford KA or Vauxhall Corsa.

This applies to everyone, regardless of the size or class of the vehicle on your insurance policy – although insurers will try to cater to your needs where possible. 

Insurers may provide an automatic car if you drive one. However, this isn’t guaranteed.  The same applies to modified cars for use with disabilities. 

When you claim and ask for a courtesy car, provide all the relevant details about your requirements so your provider can try to supply the best car possible within your cover's limitations. 

If you have more questions, read our guide to everything you need to know about getting a courtesy car.

When should I consider hire car cover?

You should always check the courtesy car cover available when buying a car insurance policy, especially if having transportation is essential for you.

If there’s no courtesy car included as standard, or if the standard cover doesn’t meet your needs, you could buy a hire car cover upgrade.

Why choose a hire car?

If you choose hire vehicle cover, it applies even if your car has been written off or stolen, which standard courtesy car cover doesn’t include.

But remember, the hire car is usually only available until the settlement is agreed (up to a maximum of 14 to 28 days). This time period differs from the standard courtesy car, which is generally provided for however long it takes for your car to be repaired. 

You may want to choose hire car cover over standard courtesy car cover for a few reasons: 

  • you’ll get a similar-sized car to your own vehicle 
  • you may get a daily payment if an insurer can’t arrange a car to meet your needs
  • we offer a one-time pay-out if you don’t want a hire car
  • you don’t need to stress about transport if your car’s written-off, stolen or unrecoverable

Courtesy vans vs van hire 

You don’t want to lose your van if you rely on it for your income. 

Our courtesy vans are typically small, car-derived vans. This size might be enough for some drivers, but it might not be suitable if you use a large transit van for your business (for instance, furniture removals).

In this case, consider adding hire van cover to your policy.

We can offer you a van that’s a similar size to the van on your policy on hire van cover, up to a maximum of 3.5 tonnes and seven seats. You’ll get a suitable replacement if your van is written off, stolen or in an accident.  

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