Vehicle insurance (also known as car insurance, motor insurance or auto insurance) is insurance purchased for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other road vehicles. Its primary use is to provide financial protection against physical damage and/or bodily injury resulting from traffic collisions and against liability that could also arise there from. The specific terms of vehicle insurance vary with legal regulations in each region. To a lesser degree vehicle insurance may additionally offer financial protection against theft of the vehicle and possibly damage to the vehicle, sustained from things other than traffic collisions, such as keying and damage sustained by colliding with stationary objects.
Widespread use of the automobile began after the First World War in the cities. Cars were relatively fast and dangerous by that stage, yet there was still no compulsory form of car insurance anywhere in the world. This meant that injured victims would seldom get any compensation in an accident, and drivers often faced considerable costs for damage to their car and property.
A compulsory car insurance scheme was first introduced in the United Kingdom with the Road Traffic Act 1930. This ensured that all vehicle owners and drivers had to be insured for their liability for injury or death to third parties whilst their vehicle was being used on a public road. Germany enacted similar legislation in 1939.
In many jurisdictions it is compulsory to have vehicle insurance before using or keeping a motor vehicle on public roads. Most jurisdictions relate insurance to both the car and the driver, however the degree of each varies greatly.
Several jurisdictions have experimented with a “pay-as-you-drive” insurance plan which is paid through a gasoline tax (petrol tax). This would address issues of uninsured motorists and also charge based on the miles (kilometers) driven, which could theoretically increase the efficiency of the insurance, through streamlined collection.
In Australia, Compulsory Third Party Personal Injury Insurance (CTP) is a state-based scheme that covers only personal injury liability. Comprehensive and Third Party Property Insurance is sold separately to cover property damage additionally, and can include fire, theft, collision, and other property damage. Third Party Property Insurance covers damage to third-party property and vehicles, but not the insured vehicle. Third Party Property Insurance with Fire and Theft additionally covers the insured vehicle against fire and theft. Comprehensive Insurance covers damage to third-party and the insured property and vehicle.
Compulsory Third Party Personal Injury (CTP) Insurance is linked to the registration of a vehicle. It is transferred when a vehicle already registered is sold. It covers the vehicle owner and any person who drives the vehicle against claims for liability in respect of the death or injury to people caused by the fault of the owner or driver, but not for damage. It covers the cost of all reasonable medical treatment for injuries received in the accident, loss of wages, cost of care services, and in some cases compensation for pain and suffering.
In New South Wales and the Northern Territory CTP Insurance is compulsory; each vehicle must be insured when registered. A ‘Greenslip,' another name by which CTP Insurance is commonly known due to the colour of the form, must be obtained through one of the five licensed insurers in New South Wales. Suncorp and Allianz both hold two licences to issue CTP Greenslips – Suncorp under the GIO and AAMI licences and Allianz under the Allianz and CIC/Allianz licences. The remaining three licences to issue CTP Greenslips are held by QBE, Zurich and Insurance Australia Limited (NRMA). APIA and Shannons and InsureMyRide Insurance also supply CTP insurance licensed by GIO. In addition to the Greenslip, an additional car insurance can be purchased through insurers in Australia. This will cover claims that the standard CTP insurance cannot provide. This is known as a comprehensive car insurance.
A similar scheme applies in the Australian Capital Territory through AAMI, GIO and NRMA (IAL).
In Victoria, Third Party Personal insurance from the Transport Accident Commission is similarly included, through a levy, in the vehicle registration fee. A similar scheme exists in Tasmania through the Motor Accidents Insurance Board.
In Queensland, CTP is a mandatory part of registration for a vehicle. There is choice of insurer but price is government controlled in a tight band.
In South Australia, Third Party Personal insurance from the Motor Accident Commission is included in the licence registration fee for people over 17. A similar scheme applies in Western Australia.
Several Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec) provide a public auto insurance system while in the rest of the country insurance is provided privately. Basic auto insurance is mandatory throughout Canada with each province’s government determining which benefits are included as minimum required auto insurance coverage and which benefits are options available for those seeking additional coverage. Accident benefits coverage is mandatory everywhere except for Newfoundland and Labrador. All provinces in Canada have some form of no-fault insurance available to accident victims. The difference from province to province is the extent to which tort or no-fault is emphasized. International drivers entering Canada are permitted to drive any vehicle their licence allows for the 3-month period for which they are allowed to use their international licence. International laws provide visitors to the country with an International Insurance Bond (IIB) until this 3-month period is over in which the international driver must provide themselves with Canadian Insurance. The IIB is reinstated every time the international driver enters the country. Damage to the driver’s own vehicle is optional – one notable exception to this is in Saskatchewan, where SGI provides collision coverage (less than a $1000 deductible, such as a collision damage waiver) as part of its basic insurance policy. In Saskatchewan, residents have the option to have their auto insurance through a tort system but less than 0.5% of the population have taken this option.
Since 1939, it has been compulsory to have third party personal insurance before keeping a motor vehicle in all federal states of Germany. In addition, every vehicle owner is free to take out a comprehensive insurance policy. All types of car insurances are provided by several private insurers. The amount of insurance contribution is determined by several criteria, like the region, the type of car or the personal way of driving.
The minimum coverage defined by German law for car liability insurance / third party personal insurance is: 7.5 million euro for bodily injury (damage to people), 1 million euro for property damage and 50,000 euro for financial/fortune loss which is in no direct or indirect coherence with bodily injury or property damage. Insurance companies usually offer all-in/combined single limit insurances of 50 Million Euro or 100 Million Euro (about 141 Million Dollar) for bodily injury, property damage and other financial/fortune loss (usually with a bodily injury coverage limitation of 8 to 15 million euro for EACH bodily injured person).