When you buy a car you must also sign up for a car insurance policy. But, rather than taking on the first policy you stumble across, make sure you read the small print and take advantage of all the added extras that may or may not come with a policy.

Car insurance is compulsory in UAE and Saudi Arabia – you cannot register a car without it – but the policies and benefits they provide vary widely. So make sure you compare all the options available in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Unless your car is older and has little value, it is worth investing in a fully comprehensive policy that, ideally, covers damage caused by accidents, natural disasters and riots as well as injury to the driver and passengers. But nothing is guaranteed, so be clear about the level of cover you want.

Some motorists ask to remove elements of a policy’s cover to save money. One of the first things to go is comprehensive insurance – particularly on older vehicles. Instead owners choose third party liability insurance, the minimum requirement, protecting them against legal liability resulting from an accident caused by your vehicle. But if your car gets flooded in a storm, for example, you might find the damage is not covered.

To ensure you get the cover you want, there are a whole host of optional extras that allow you to effectively tailor your policy to suit your needs. Just remember, while some of these added extras are automatically included in the policy, others are not. So, if you want them, request they be added on.

Personal accident and passenger cover

This is generally included in standard policies and protects you and your passengers if anyone gets seriously injured or killed in an accident. If this is not a standard inclusion, it is wise to add it on. You don’t want to be left with hefty legal or rehabilitation bills if either yourself or any passengers are seriously injured or, worse still, killed in an accident.

GCC cover

If you drive to Oman, Bahrain or surrounding GCC countries regularly, make sure you are insured. In the UAE, some policies automatically include this cover, particularly for Oman, so check your policy if you know you will be driving across the border anytime soon. For Saudi Arabia, the GCC cover can include countries such as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon as well.

Flooding, storms and hurricanes and riots

While some polices automatically offer protection against natural disasters or riots, others do not, so make sure you request this as an add-on for full protection.

Off-road cover

If your car has off-road capabilities, it may automatically be covered in the policy but check before you go gallivanting across the dunes. If off-road cover is in place, check whether there are any restrictions on that cover. The age of a vehicle can affect your cover as well as what you consider off-road driving to be. For example, some policies only cover driving off-road within city limits or within a certain distance of a paved road. You may not be covered for an off-roading race or trial either. Be honest with your insurer to make sure your policy supports your dune bashing activities to the maximum.

Roadside assistance

Many car insurance policies automatically offer roadside assistance, a handy addition if you have a long commute and don’t want to be stranded on a hard shoulder for hours when your car breaks down.

Personal belongings cover

If you regularly leave your belongings in the car, it would be wise to ensure they are insured in case of theft or fire. There are policies that offer protection for clothing and personal effects but there will be a limit on that cover. While in the UAE one policy might offer up to AED1,000, another might stretch to AED 4,000 or more. In the case of Saudi Arabia, policies offer personal belongings as well such as AXA car insurance which covers up to SAR 2,000.So, if you are going to leave expensive gadgets or jewellery in the car, make sure they fall within the cover limit set out in the policy.

No claims

Proof of no claims will be taken into account when you switch insurers, so be sure to get the necessary documentation from your previous insurer to prove you have a good history.  It is generally in a form of No Claim certificate that you need to request from your old provider while getting a quote from a new provider. This will help keep cost of your policy down.

Some policies also allow you to protect your no claims bonus, so if you have an accident, this will ensure you keep your discounted policy the following year.

You can also often transfer your No Claims bonus from another country if you have recently moved.

Hire car

If you rely on a car to get to work, you might want to ensure your policy includes a replacement car if your motor gets badly damaged in a smash. This ensures you automatically have a car to drive the moment you report the accident to the claims department. Some insurers will even deliver the hire car to you. But remember, there can be a limit on the number of days the car hire is available so if you car is badly damaged, you could still end up carless for a while.

New car replacement

If your car is relatively new and is written off in an accident, your insurer may replace it with a new car. There is a limit on the age of the car that this applies to – a time period that can be less than six months old, 12 months or 18 months depending on the policy you have.

Windscreen, tyre or locks protection

A chipped windscreen caused by a flying piece of debris can be a headache for motorists, as you will need to replace the windscreen. However, some insurers include windscreen, locks and even tyre cover in the policy. It can also be available as an add-on.

Agency repairs

Some insurance companies will offer agency repairs for up to five years after the car is registered, rather than sending the car to a garage of their choice. This means your car will be repaired by the actual dealership of that particular model, an element that can ensure a higher quality repair. If you don’t have this as an option, it might be wise to add it on as otherwise you will have to use the garage recommended by your insurer and this could be a long distance from where you live.

Discounts

Ask your insurer about any discounts you may be eligible for. For example, some insurers will offer special discounts if a husband and wife insure more than one vehicle. And if your insurer has sent through a quotation for renewal, always ask if they have a better price. Car insurance is a very competitive market and insurance companies will want to retain your custom.

Finally, don’t ask for unnecessary add-ons if you don’t need them. If you know you won’t be off-roading across the desert anytime soon, don’t include that cover in your policy. By taking additional covers off, it could see the cost of your policy reduced.

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