Previously Prime Meridian Direct (PMD) Prime Meridian Direct

A busy highway

Different types of car insurance and what they mean

The different types of car insurance out there can be confusing. What does comprehensive car insurance really mean? And what does third-party car insurance cover?

We get that the complicated words often used to describe insurance can be difficult to understand. And when it comes to choosing your car insurance, it’s so important to understand everything you’re signing up for.

So, here are the most common types of car insurance in South Africa and what they mean.

Most common types of car insurance in South Africa

If you don’t understand what your car insurance will cover and in what event you will and won’t be covered, you could be making a very expensive mistake.

Always remember that you must make sure that you understand all the terms and conditions you agree to when signing up for your car insurance. Different insurance companies will have their own requirements and conditions, so be sure to read the fine print and ask as many questions as possible to understand what your insurance covers.

Here are some of the most common types of car insurance you’ll come across in South Africa.

Comprehensive car insurance, aka the full package

This is the highest level of car insurance and, as the name suggests, it’s the most comprehensive and will cover damage to your car in almost any situation that could arise.

Naturally, this type of insurance is typically more expensive, with higher premiums. However, you must understand that even if you have comprehensive insurance, there are certain exceptions. For example, if your car is damaged under circumstances where you’re not adhering to the law, your insurance claim may not be paid out.

Generally, your comprehensive insurance will include cover for:

  • Car accidents and write-offs (when your car cannot be repaired), and you’ll also be covered for other damage to your car like theft, hijacking or damage caused by natural fire or disasters.
  • Towing and storage facilities in the event of a car accident
  • Glass and hail damage
  • Damage to other cars
  • And damages to your car when the person who hit you does not have car insurance

Who’s it for?

You also often need this type of insurance if you’re financing your car through a financial services institution. It’s also perfect for someone with a brand-new car or who drives many kilometres every month.

Third-party fire and theft cover, aka the peace of mind

This type of car insurance is effectively just a step down from Comprehensive, offering some of the main benefits but not all of them.

When you have this type of insurance, the insurer offers a good level of cover, except that it won’t cover accidental damage to your car, such as when you’re in a car crash.

Who’s it for?

This is perfect for someone with a tighter budget who still wants the peace of mind of being covered in certain events.

Third-party only cover, aka the basics

Third-party Only generally only covers the damage to other uninsured drivers’ cars in the event of a car accident. So, you can breathe easy when you drive past the other cars on the road!

However, damage to your own car won’t be covered in the event of a hijacking, car theft, or natural disasters.

Who’s it for?

If you’ve got an older car or one that’s been paid off and don’t want to pay a big insurance premium every month, this could be for you.

Unique types of car insurance in South Africa

There are some car insurance options that you only get with Prime. Here are the top ways we try to make car insurance accessible for all South Africans because we believe it should be a win-win situation!

Growing cover

Our Growing Cover is part of our Customised and Third-party products. It’s like a pool of money that grows and is ultimately used to help toward the cost of repairs or loss if you’re in a car accident and your car is written off or declared uneconomical to repair.

You can also use this money in the event of theft, hijacking, natural fire or disaster, or hail storm*. This cover will go towards the estimated cost of your car repairs from your available Growing Cover or Growing Benefit Amount (GBA). It can increase by as little as R500 per month to as much as R4,000 per month, depending on the plan you choose.

*Hail cover is limited to R10k and R20k on Third Party and Customised respectively.

Excess reducing to zero

The “excess” is that first amount you must pay when making a car insurance claim and is common across all insurers. It effectively refers to the uninsured part of your loss of which you’re always responsible for paying with each claim.

Most insurance companies keep this “base” or “basic” excess amount the same, so it hardly ever changes. So, when you sign up for your car insurance, the excess you’ll pay is usually set, potentially changing on your policy anniversary.

However, we do things a little differently when you insure your car with Prime. We have introduced a unique Reducing Excess, which means that this excess amount will reduce to zero over 36 months*. Therefore, the longer you’re not in a car accident, and don’t have any claims, the less excess you’ll have to pay when you do need to claim.

What happens after your claim?

Well, then your excess amount resets to the full amount. However, it will again continue to decrease over 36 months. Your excess also resets if you missed a premium payment.

There’s also something called “layered excess”, meaning there are specific excesses for different situations. For example, suppose you drive between the hours of 11 pm and 4 am and have an accident. In that case, you will be charged an excess amount that applies to that specific situation, as stipulated in your policy document.

Fixed premiums: pay the same for 24 months

You’ll often hear the word “premium” in car insurance communications. It basically refers to the fee you must pay to be covered. This is mostly via a monthly debit order. However, some insurers do accept annual or biannual payments.

If you miss a payment, your car insurance cover could lapse, which means it’s no longer valid, and the insurer won’t pay out if you happen to have an incident during that lapsed period. However, with Prime, you will have a grace period of 15 days to make up your missed payment and keep your cover.

Every insurer increases your premium payment annually for obvious reasons like inflation-based increases. However, if you insure your car with Prime, we promise to keep your monthly premium payment the same for 24 months if you remain claim free.*

Only after the 24 months ,we may increase your premium as do all other insurers. The reason why we offer this fixed premium* is to help South Africans budget ahead of time, giving you much more financial freedom and helping you plan for the future. *T&Cs apply.

Get car insurance coverage to suit your pocket

Join our Prime Family and feel safe knowing you have a team who’ll be there for you when you need us most. Contact us today for an obligation-free quote!


The above article is meant to give general information to help you understand the different types of car insurance out there, including products that are unique to Prime South Africa, formerly Prime Meridian Direct (PMD) only.

Please consider that purchasing car insurance is an intricate process and should be done with much thought. If you want to buy car insurance, consider contacting a certified financial advisor for professional advice and to make sure the product is right for you.

Contact Prime for more information regarding affordable, comprehensive car insurance with fixed premiums* and a reduce-to-zero excess*. *T&Cs apply.

Fill in your details and we'll call you back before you know it!

Type your message here. We look forward to hearing from you.

Full Name(Required)

Fill in your details and we'll get back to you as soon as possible


Thank you!

We’ll be in touch soon!