Why Comprehensive and not Third Party Motor Insurance?

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More often than not people who buy Third Party Motor Insurance go around boasting that I have an insurance policy and when an accident occurs they are devastated to hear that the policy does not cover their own vehicle and often go on a tirade accusing insurance company so and so, of not wanting to pay claims. It is always important for motor vehicle owners to check and understand the motor insurance cover they are buying.

BY Caroline N. Apton

Motor insurance cover basically provides financial protection against physical damage to property and bodily injury resulting from traffic collisions. In Zimbabwe, the minimum level of insurance which satisfies the legal requirements is defined by the Road Traffic Act. This kind of policy is commonly known as the 3rd Party insurance cover.

Third party insurance is compulsory in Zimbabwe for the purposes of getting vehicle licenses through ZINARA on a quarterly basis. This cover protects the client (or insured/ policyholder) against loss or damage to Third Party Properties in the course of driving, and death or bodily injury to these Third Parties ONLY. It also covers any legal liabilities arising from the policy holder’s driving which results in any of the above mentioned accidents (bodily injury, death, or property damage) to third parties.

It does NOT however, cover any loss or damage to the car of the policy owner.

Some motor vehicle owners also take a third party motor vehicle known as FULL THIRD PARTY FIRE AND THEFT INSURANCE, which covers the owner from theft or fire damage to the policy owner’s car. However this policy does NOT cover damage to the policy owner’s car for any other reason than fire damage; including damage to the insured’s own motor vehicle as a result of the accident.

Third Party insurance cover is the cheapest option in motor car insurance. While it is always tempting to always go for the cheapest option which ranges from $36.00 for a period of four months.  The biggest question here is how much cover do you have under this policy?

The short answer is not much. For a vehicle owner to be fully covered they need Comprehensive Motor Insurance.

What is Comprehensive Motor Insurance?

Comprehensive cover is the most extensive and complete form of motor insurance cover. Which over and above the benefits offered by Third Party Insurance covers the owner’s vehicle, Theft of vehicle and/or accessories, Damage to the vehicle due to attempted theft and Hotel accommodation amongst other things. This cover also includes the benefits of Motor Vehicle Roadside assistance, Funeral cash assistance and even Emergency accommodation. The cover sometimes also provides accidental damage to the policy holder’s vehicle and in other countries.

Full Third Party and Comprehensive cover estimates

These premiums vary from insurer to insurer

So what happens if the insured is at fault and his own vehicle is damaged?

The events that motorists insure against like accidents, theft, and or fire, amongst others are not predictable and may happen at any time. The value of the loss or claim, on the happening of the insured event, cannot be known in advance.  So it is always important to have comprehensive cover in case your car is involved in an accident, is damaged and or becomes a write off.

People always have ‘big bar talks’ that they have an insurance policy and that when their Mercedes Benz, Chrysler or Audi is destroyed one will be replaced. But they own a Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance.  If information is not correctly delivered to this person you will see complains going to the regulatory body (The Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) that an insurance company so and so is refusing to pay claims. It is very critical that Insurance companies, agents and brokers make a serious effort to ensure that their clients know what cover their buying and for Motorists to also understand what they are buying.

The table below gives a clear breakdown of what is actually covered by Full Third Party and Comprehensive Motor Insurance.

*The cover limits vary from one insurer to the other.

Also note that most benefits are a certain percentage of vehicle sum insured and have a maximum cap (Limits). So always check with your insurer the percentage of sum insured covered and the maximum cap (limit).

So what is EXCLUDED under comprehensive Motor Insurance?

Like any other insurance policy comprehensive motor insurance have exclusions and motorists should always check and read the exclusions. Most of these exclusions include but are not limited to the following:

  • Third party claims where the insured or his driver is not legally liable/ responsible.
  • Loss or damage happening whilst vehicle is being driven by the insured (or any other person with the full knowledge and consent of the insured) whilst under the influence of drugs, alcohol or narcotics.
  • loss or damage whilst the vehicle is being driven by an unlicensed driver.
  • Loss or damage occurring whilst vehicle is outside Zimbabwe or territorial limit extensions stated in the policy.
  • Betterment, depreciation wear and tear
  • Damage to engine or tyres or tyres where there is no damage to some other part of the vehicle.
  • Damage to springs or suspension due inequalities of the road.
  • Theft of accessories or spare parts from motor cycle unless whole unit is stolen

To sum-up

It is ok for you to satisfy the legal requirement through buying Third Party Motor Insurance but you got to remember that you can be involved in an accident which can cause harm to other people and you can be sued. Then of cause if that car is written off and you merely had an RTA, it means you will lose everything and start to reinvest to buy another car.

It also important not to over or under insure your vehicle, your motor vehicle should be insured for its replacement value. Always compare motor vehicle insurance products and prices from the best insurers to find the best deal.


NB: The above is for information purposes only. The information was compiled from online sources (local insurance company websites) and Zimselctor.com. Please consult your insurance company, agent or insurance broker to get full details on the terms and conditions of a motor insurance product, limits and exclusions.


Caroline Nezillyn Apton is a Third Year student at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and is studying a Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Risk Management and Insurance. 

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