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How to get a courtesy car after an accident

| Insurance

A car accident can be scary. But once you’ve checked that everyone’s okay and you’ve called your insurance company to inform them of the incident, you may start to wonder how you’ll get around without a car.

Many of us rely heavily on our cars, particularly if you live in a more rural area or a location with few public transportation options. Luckily, many insurance providers will offer you a courtesy car following an accident so that you can continue to get from A to B while your own vehicle is being repaired.

Below, you can find more information around how to get a courtesy car, how long you can keep it for and whether you need to pay extra for it.

How do I get a courtesy car?

A courtesy car is sometimes offered by your insurance provider to keep you on the road while your own vehicle is in a garage for repair work.

After a car accident, it’s important to speak to your insurance provider to find out what to do next. They will likely be able to advise you on how to get your car to a garage, where to take it to and how you can go about getting a courtesy car. Every policy with every insurer can vary, and there may be different rules that you have to follow in order to qualify for a courtesy car.

Generally, if you have comprehensive car insurance, you will get a guaranteed courtesy car if your vehicle has been taken for repair at an approved repairer within the specified geographical limits. To find out who these approved repairers are, you should speak to your insurance provider, who should be able to supply you with a list.

Depending on whether or not your vehicle is drivable after an incident, you may be able to take it home before arranging for it to go to an approved garage some time in the future for repairs. When this is the case, you should let your insurer know when the car is being fixed so that they can provide a courtesy car during those days.

Alternatively, your car may not be drivable from the scene of an accident, and may need to go to a garage straight away. As soon as the garage technicians have decided that the car is unsafe to drive, a courtesy car will generally be provided the next working day, so you don’t have to worry about getting around without a functioning car.

If it is decided that the value of your vehicle is outweighed by the potential repair costs following an accident (known as a ‘write-off’), you will typically be allowed to keep a courtesy car for up to 14 days while you find an alternative option, such as the purchase of a new vehicle or the rental of a vehicle until you can find a new one.

Once you have a courtesy car, you don’t need to worry about paying for tax or insurance. These things will automatically be applied, and you will be covered for the same terms and conditions as if you were driving your own vehicle.

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Do you get a courtesy car if it’s your fault?

As long as you have comprehensive car insurance, you will likely get a courtesy car whether the accident was your fault or the fault of another driver. Most insurance companies believe that, regardless of blame, you should still have access to a vehicle to get you around while yours is being repaired.

Do I have to pay for a courtesy car?

If you have comprehensive car insurance, a courtesy vehicle should be offered to you at no extra charge. As it will be insured for you to drive, the only thing you need to pay for is fuel.

For those that may have third party car insurance, a courtesy car isn’t often provided free of charge, however you may be able to pay a small fee so that you can have one given to you for a short amount of time following an incident.

Who can drive a courtesy car?

When your car is temporarily unavailable, such as during essential repairs after an accident, it’s likely you’ll need a vehicle to get you from place to place. Many comprehensive insurance policies will offer a courtesy car as standard and is usually offered until you get your own vehicle back. This could mean you don’t have to cancel plans. But if you do get a courtesy car, are you legally allowed to drive it? Let’s find out.

How old do you have to be to drive a courtesy car?

Some providers have restrictions around a driver’s age and may have limitations for very young drivers or older people. If there is a minimum age limit, it’s likely to be set at 18 or 21 years old. The age can also differ depending on location. For example, if you live in the Isle of Man or Northern Ireland, you must be over the age of 24 to drive a courtesy car.  Insurers can also set an upper age limit, usually of 99. As the age limit can differ from provider to provider and there are no clear or set rules around this, it’s worth contacting your insurance provider for more information.

Can a named driver drive a courtesy car?

When you’re provided with a courtesy car temporarily by your insurance provider, it’s often the case that the insurance policy is the same as on your own vehicle. Most insurance companies will automatically insure any drivers on the current policy, including named drivers. This means the same people should be insured to drive it and will be covered for the same things. If your vehicle insurance covers a main driver and various named drivers, all of these people should be able to drive the courtesy car too. However, if you’re unsure about this, it’s always worth speaking to your insurance provider to confirm the details as it is the car owner who is responsible for all drivers and will be liable for any points or fines.

How long can I have a courtesy car for?

Most insurers agree that you can keep a courtesy car for as long as the repairs on your vehicle take, whether this be just a couple of days or a few weeks, for example.

If it’s decided that your car is a write-off, you may be able to keep the courtesy for a further 14 days. For some insurers, this can increase to 21 days. During this time, you must try to find a new car or look into hiring one so that the courtesy car can be returned.

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