What is third party fire and theft car insurance?

Third party fire and theft car  insurance (TPF&T) covers you for your car being stolen or damaged by fire, as well as for other liabilities you incur if you damage someone's property or injure someone while driving.

It's a mid-level form of insurance that covers you for some eventualities and is affordable for drivers who can't afford comprehensive policies. It does not cover damage to your vehicle in a collision if you are at fault.

What does TPF&T cover?

You might be trying to decide between third party and third party fire and theft. When it comes to TP vs TPF&T, you'll find that the latter covers you for injuries and property damage to others in the same way as TP, but it also covers you for theft and fire damage, It may also include other eventualities not usually protected by TP.

Typical TPF&T coverage includes:

  • Property damage and injury to others when you're the at-fault driver
  • The cost of replacing your vehicle if it's stolen
  • Damage resulting from an attempted theft, such as smashed windows or a stolen radio, and
  • Fire damage, including arson

Is TPF&T insurance right for me?

There are several different types of car insurance, with compulsory third party (CTP) being the minimum legal requirement for on-road cars. 

CTP covers you for injuries or death caused by your driving, while TP covers you for damage to someone else's vehicle or property. For example, if you knock someone's garden wall through, you'll be covered. 

TP won't cover you for fire damage, for replacing or repairing your car if it's stolen or damaged by an attempted theft, whereas, as the name suggests, TPF&T will.

Common TPF&T exclusions include: 

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including some prescription drugs
  • Your car has a breakdown
  • You haven't maintained your car to a roadworthy standard or taken due care to prevent damage or loss
  • Using the vehicle to transport dangerous items
  • The damage is down to a deliberate act on your part
  • Normal depreciation, wear and tear and so on
  • Unauthorised or unnotified modifications to the vehicle
  • Using the vehicle for hire and reward
  • Using the vehicle for an illegal act, or for motor sports, demonstrations or testing
  • An uninsured or unlicensed driver driving at the time of the accident
  • Loss due to lawful seizure
  • Overloading the car with either goods or passengers
  • Leaving the scene of an accident, and 
  • Using the wrong type of fuel.

Why use TPF&T insurance?

TPF&T covers most of the common risks that you face as a car owner. It's more affordable than comprehensive insurance, which, if you're a younger driver or you're looking to reduce your spending, is ideal.

If your car is a bit older than most and you're just looking to keep it safe and be able to replace it with something similar, then TPF&T is a good choice and will give you peace of mind. Comprehensive insurance may be a slight overkill if you don't have a performance car or drive a great deal.

How much does TPF&T cost?

Your premiums will vary according to a few factors, including your age, your location, how long you've been driving and, of course, the car you drive.

The more expensive and powerful the car is, the more it'll cost to insure. Insurance providers also look at the security measures you take, such as keeping your vehicle in a garage or installing an immobiliser, as these will bring your costs down. If you live in a high crime area, your premiums will go up.

Who's driving the car also matters. If you're over 25 with a clean record, you'll pay less, but if you also put your 22-year-old son onto the policy, you'll pay quite a bit more. Men tend to be more expensive than women and anyone with a less-than-spotless driving record will pay for it (literally) for a few years.

Other factors include the usage of the vehicle, whether it's used for business or personal reasons, as well as how many miles it does each year. 

Is it worth it?

You need to ask yourself how much cover you want and need, as well as how much you can afford. 

TPF&T is mid-range cover, which will work well for many drivers. However, there will be a lot of variations in both the cover and its cost between providers. For example, with Real Insurance's TPF&T policy, you can add on extra cover for lost or stolen keys, as well as for personal effects stolen from the car, whereas these options don't exist with AAMI or RACV. Budget Direct also covers keys up to the value of $1,000. On the other hand, RACV offers towing and roadside assistance, which is something you'd usually find in a comprehensive policy.

Saving money on your car insurance

It's not just about finding the cheapest FPT&C insurance, it's about using a comparison site to look at the features offered by each provider. If you find a policy that's a few dollars more expensive each month than most but will replace your keys, it could be worth it. You can save even more dollars by using these tips as well.

Make sure you actually need TPF&T, because if your car's an old beater then third party alone might be enough.

Use a higher excess to keep your monthly premiums low. Beware of too high an excess, however, because it can really sting if you have to use it.

Look for discounts. Lots of insurers offer loyalty or bundle discounts, for example. Virgin also offers a 15 per cent discount for online purchases.

Only allowing drivers of 25 or over onto the policy can help to keep premiums lower.

Make sure your vehicle's as secure as possible by keeping it in a garage or using an anti-theft device.

Compare third party car insurance here.