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Car insurance glossary

A handy A-Z for car owners and drivers

Car insurance jargon explained

Wondering what exactly we mean when we talk about “collision damage waivers”, “fronting” or “territorial limits”? Our glossary of car insurance terms and related jargon will help you make sense of some of the language we (and other car insurers) use.  


Accident recovery

When a breakdown service or garage collects you and / or your car after an accident.


Alarms are fitted to your car and if someone tampers with it they’ll make a loud noise to alert you.

Approved windscreen repairer

A repairer that your insurer has approved, giving them permission to fix or replace your windscreen. Using an approved repairer means that your insurance should cover most of the costs.

Approved / authorised / nominated repairer or garage

This is a repairer or garage that’s been approved by your insurer to make repairs to your car. If you use an unapproved repairer, you could end up having to pay for a larger part of the bill from your own pocket.


Black box

Some insurers have black box policies and will fit a box to your car. These use a satellite tracker to check how you're driving by monitoring things like your speed, acceleration and braking.

Breakdown assistance / roadside recovery

A service that can collect your car and / or yourself after a breakdown. They can also perform small roadside repairs.

Breakdown cover

A type of insurance that covers you to various degrees when your car breaks down. There are many different types of breakdown cover, including roadside only, European cover, recovering only the car, and cover that pays for onward travel for you and your passengers.


Car insurance / cover

There are different types of car insurance, but the basic principle is that it offers financial cover for damage and / or injury resulting from traffic collisions. You pay an insurer for a policy and if you’re in an accident or your car is stolen, you can make a claim. If your insurer accepts the claim, they’ll help cover some of the costs for putting things right. Car insurance can also cover damage caused by things like vandalism and hitting stationary objects.

Car insurance groups / bands

The Group Rating Panel (GRP), administered by Thatcham Research, puts new car models into an insurance group from 1 (cheapest to insure) to 50 (the most expensive). Cars in the highest groups are likely to cost insurers the most if a claim is made. Insurers might use the GRP's recommendations when they calculate your car insurance premiums, or they might choose to use their own groupings.

Certificate of Car insurance

Your certificate of Car insurance is proof that your car is insured and you have the minimum 3rd party insurance for your car, as required by law. It shows what car is covered, who’s allowed to drive it and what the car can be used for.

Child car seat protection cover (child car seat replacement)

Covers damage or potential damage to any child car seats in your car if you have an accident, the car is stolen, or there is a fire. This cover might be included as standard with your car insurance.


The process of formally asking your insurer for payment to help cover an expense that falls under the terms of your insurance policy.

Claims history

A list, or record, of claims you have made against your insurance policy.

Collision damage waiver

This is when a rental company waives their right to make you pay for damage to their hire vehicle.

Commercial travelling

When travel is a permanent part of your job. For example, if you work as a taxi driver, delivery person, or travelling salesperson.

Comprehensive cover / insurance

Insurance that covers you for damage to your car, as well as damage to others, as the result of an accident that was deemed your fault.

Courtesy car

A hire car that you’re given to use while yours is being repaired.

Credit report / score / footprint / check

A credit score is a tool used by lenders to help them decide if you qualify for a credit card, loan, mortgage or service. They’ll use the information on your credit report, and from your application, to calculate a score that represents your credit history. This helps them understand what kind of borrower you are, and how likely it is that you’ll manage your repayments. Your credit score is also one of the factors that insurers can use to work out your insurance premiums. Any credit or financial product you take out will appear (or leave a footprint) on your credit report. And some credit applications – even if they aren't successful – will appear on your report too.



When something that's covered under the terms of your insurance policy is physically harmed to the point where its value or usefulness is impaired.

DVLA (or DVA in Northern Ireland)

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is the UK government organisation responsible for maintaining a database of drivers in Great Britain. They also keep a database of vehicles for the entire United Kingdom. Its counterpart for drivers in Northern Ireland is the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). They issue driving licences, organise collection of vehicle excise duty (also known as road tax and road fund licence) and sell personalised registrations.



A clause that changes the terms of your insurance policy. Any endorsements that apply will be shown on your Policy Schedule.

EU country / European Economic Area (EEA)

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 countries. It operates an internal (or single) market which allows free movement of goods, capital, services and people between member states. The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows them to be part of the EU's single market.

European Motoring Assistance

Also known as European breakdown cover and European car breakdown insurance. This is a service that can perform small roadside repairs, or collect you and / or your car, after a breakdown in Europe.

European / Europe car insurance

Car insurance that extends to countries in the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Andorra and Liechtenstein as well as the UK.


The excess is the amount you have to pay towards a claim. Insurers typically set a compulsory excess, and you can often choose to add a voluntary excess to help reduce your premiums. If you have both, the insurer will add them together and ask you to pay the combined amount towards any claim you make.


Any accident, injury, loss, theft, damage or liability not covered by your insurance policy. These will be listed in your policy document.


Fixed Penalty Notice

A ticket that the police can issue on the spot for minor traffic violations, like speeding or a faulty brake light.


When you falsely name someone (who’s cheaper to insure) as the main driver on your car insurance, knowing that another named driver will be using the car more. For example, a parent putting themselves down as the main driver of their child's car – usually to cut the cost of the insurance. Fronting is illegal and considered insurance fraud, so it could result in criminal charges. It will also most likely invalidate your insurance policy, meaning you could end up with a very big bill if something goes wrong.


Gender Directive

The Gender Directive came into force in 2012 in the European Union. It means that insurance companies in member countries can't use gender to decide on insurance prices.



Immobilisers are electronic security devices fitted to a car to stop the engine from running unless the right key has been used. This prevents the car from being "hot wired" if someone tries to steal it.

Inexperienced driver

In relation to our car insurance, an inexperienced driver is someone aged 25 or older, who holds a provisional driving licence, or who has held a full driving licence for less than 12 months. Drivers under the age of 25 can be also considered inexperienced by some insurers. Usually, inexperienced drivers are charged higher car insurance premiums.


The company that underwrites your car insurance.


Key Protection (key cover / insurance)

A type of insurance that covers loss or damage to your keys.


Liability / legal liability

When you are legally responsible for something.


Market value

The cost of replacing your car with another of the same make, specification, model, age, mileage and condition as your car, immediately before the loss or damage happened.

Mis-fuel Rescue

When a repairer or garage drains your car's tank and entire fuel system of contaminated fuel. They’ll then flush the system with clean fuel and give you enough to get you on your way.

Mobile phone / Gadget cover

Insurance cover that extends to your mobile phone and gadgets. This is usually part of your contents or personal possessions cover.

MOT and MOT certificate

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport; it’s an examination of your car to check it’s roadworthy. And it’s a legal requirement. During an MOT, important parts on your vehicle will be tested to make sure they meet the legal standards.

Motor Insurance Database (MID)

The MID is the central record of all insured vehicles in the UK. It’s managed by the MIB and used by the Police and the DVLA to enforce motor insurance laws.

Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB)

The Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) is a UK Guarantee Fund that compensates victims of hit and run accidents. Anyone with a car insurance policy contributes to the running of the MIB as part of their premiums.

Motor Legal Protection (MLP)

Also known as car insurance legal cover / motor legal cover. This is what's known as an insurance ancillary or add-on. It gives you additional benefits that aren’t usually included as standard with your motor insurance policy. Motor Legal Protection can help with legal assistance to recover any out-of-pocket expenses you’ve paid for an accident that wasn’t your fault. These can include the cost of loss of earnings, damage to personal possessions or even personal injury to you or your passengers. As an insurance policy, this cover provides an affordable way to minimise the expense and inconvenience that a motoring accident can cause.


Named driver / other insured drivers

Someone that you add to your car insurance policy so that they can drive your car from time to time. Named drivers benefit from the same level of cover that you have as the main policy holder.

Named driver no claims discount

If your named driver doesn't make a claim on your policy, they can build up their own no claims discount. They can then benefit from this if they take out their own policy – but usually only if it's with the same insurer.

NCD proof

A letter from your previous insurer confirming how many years you’ve been claim free for.

No claims discount (NCD)

Also known as no claims bonus. This is a discount that you can get on your insurance premiums when you haven't made a claim for one or more years.

No claims discount protection

A type of insurance that protects your no claims discount. Say you’ve built up five years of discount, then have to make a claim. With no claims discount protection, you’d get to keep your five years’ worth of discount next time you renewed your policy.

Nominated repairer

A repairer / garage that has been approved by your insurer to repair your car.


Period of insurance

Also called insurance period, policy period and current cover period. This is the length of time that you are insured for under an insurance policy. It's usually 12 months.

Personal accident

When you suffer bodily injury or die as a result of an accident or unforeseen event.

Personal belongings

Your 'moveable possessions', meaning things you might have in your pockets, handbag or rucksack when you leave the house.

Personal injury

This is a legal term for an injury to your body, mind or emotions.


The insurance product.

Policy documents

These are the documents you’ll receive with details of your insurance. They include the terms and conditions, as well as an explanation of what the policy does and doesn't cover you for.

Policy Schedule

The latest Policy Schedule the insurer has given you. It’s got details of the insurance period, the sections of the policy wording that apply, your premium, your insured car, and any excesses / endorsements.


The person who bought the insurance and is named in the policy document.

Pool car

A company car that’s used by more than one employee.

Premium / monthly premiums

The amount you pay for your insurance policy.



RAC is the company that provides our breakdown cover.


Social, domestic and pleasure

This is when a car is used only for these reasons and not for commuting or business.

Soft search

A soft search is when we check your credit report to see if we can offer you insurance, but it doesn't show up on your report. In other words, we don't leave a 'footprint'.

Statement of Fact

A form with all the information you gave your insurer when, or before, you bought your policy. This’ll include information given on your behalf, and verbal information you gave before the start of the policy.

Statutory Off Road Notification / Notice (SORN)

You use this to tell the DVLA you're taking your vehicle off the road. For example, to keep it on a driveway, in a garage, or on private land, where you won’t need to take it on a public road.


Telematics / telematics policies

These use a satellite tracker to check how you're driving by monitoring things like your speed, acceleration and braking. The steadier you go, the less your insurance will cost. This isn't something we offer, but there are some insurers that do.

Territorial limits

These are the areas or countries that you are insured to drive in. Our territorial limits are Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, including transporting your car by sea within or between them.

Third party

Third party refers to anyone who makes a claim against anyone insured under your policy.

Third party car insurance

If you’re in an accident that’s your fault, you’re covered for any damage to the third party's car and property. It also protects anyone who was injured during the accident. Third party car insurance is the minimum cover you must have by law.

Third party, fire and theft

Third party car insurance, with added fire and theft cover. This means you’re also covered if your car is damaged by fire, or if it’s stolen. And if an attempt to steal your car results in damage you'll be covered for that too.


Trackers are fitted to your car and send out signals so you or the tracking service provider can find your car if it's stolen.



When nobody is in your car.

Uninsured driver promise

This protects your no claims bonus if you make a claim for an accident that wasn't your fault and the driver who hit you doesn't have insurance. You won’t lose your no claims discount or have to pay an excess.



Your insurer’s definition of the term ‘valuables’ will usually be outlined in your policy document. It differs from one insurer to another, but normally it's any item worth more than a specified limit. Your insurer will be able to advise on this.

Vandalism promise

This protects your no claims discount if your car is damaged by an act of vandalism and you have to make a claim. You’ll need a valid crime reference number and might still have to pay your excess.

Vehicle tax

A tax that has to be paid for most vehicles that are driven or parked on public roads in the UK.

Vehicle / car registration

All cars in the UK need be registered with the DVLA. They issue each vehicle with a unique identifying number, or registration number.


Windscreen cover / insurance

Cover for the cost of fixing any damage to your windscreen that would make your car fail its MOT if left unrepaired.

Write off (total loss)

When your car is so badly damaged in an accident that it can’t be fixed or if it doesn’t make financial sense to repair it.


Young driver

This generally refers to a driver who is under 25.

Useful guides

We’ve got a host of handy guides, covering everything from car maintenance and winter driving to car insurance groups and young drivers.

Any questions?

Browse our car insurance FAQs section. You’ll find answers to the questions we get asked regularly by customers.

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