Skip to main content

Sometimes it feels like car insurance jargon was invented solely for the purpose of confusing you even more when you’re trying to pick the right policy for you. We get it. And we don’t like it either. We think car insurance should be as transparent as your browsing history that time you forgot to turn on incognito mode. 

So we’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you figure out what all these acronyms and complicated concepts with fancy names actually mean.

And while this whole article is basically gold dust, we’ll forgive you if you don’t feel like reading the War and Peace of car insurance jargon on your commute to work. So if there’s a particular concept you’re here for, we’ve got a clickable table of contents for you right here. You’re welcome. 

Person in orange with blue car and trees and sun in the background.

Comprehensive car insurance

There are different levels of car insurance you can get. Think of a comprehensive car insurance policy as your trusty superhero sidekick. It’s always by your side ready to save the day when things get rough. If you need to claim on your comprehensive insurance, you can be pretty confident that provided you’ve been honest with them, your insurer will cover the cost of repairs to your car (minus any excess(es)). If you were at fault, they’ll also take care of things with the other party. Some insurers might even sort you with a courtesy car while you’re waiting to get yours back from the shop. 

Comprehensive car insurance is not to be confused with third party car insurance. This type of policy is the bare minimum you need to drive in the UK. Picture your superhero sidekick, but instead of helping you, they help the driver you just hit.

And then you’re left to deal with the damages to your car on your own. Not a “comprehensive” solution, if you know what we mean. But, it’ll get the job done from a legal perspective. 

Some third party car insurance policies also come with a fire and theft provision. So if your car is damaged during a fire or theft situash, you might be covered too. But, the policy is still pretty bare bones when compared to a comprehensive policy. 

Comprehensive policies come in all shapes and sizes. They could be annual policies or short term policies. For example, our temporary car insurance policy offers comprehensive cover.  

Car leasing and insurance 

Car leasing is a great way to drive a new car without the commitment or eye watering price tag that comes with outright buying it. A car lease generally lasts anywhere between two to four years.

Much like you might pay rent to live in your home, you pay monthly lease payments to keep driving your car during the agreed-upon term. Once the term is up, you hand the car in, and if all is well, that’s the end of that lease. Then it’s up to you whether you decide to lease a new car or not. 

But, when you lease a car, you’re typically responsible for arranging your own car insurance policy. Your lease provider won’t hand over the keys to your new set of wheels until you can show you’re covered appropriately.

You need to make sure you’re covered before the delivery (or collection) day and you have to be able to show proof to collect your car. If you haven’t had time to shop around for an annual policy, a temporary car insurance policy that can last anywhere between an hour to a few weeks could cover you in the interim. Here is a full guide on how to get insurance for a leased car. 

Car insurance premium 

Your car insurance premium is basically the amount you pay, either monthly or annually, to keep your car insured on the road. It can vary massively between insurers so it’s always worth getting several quotes to make a saving. 

Car insurance companies take a few things into consideration before giving you a quote. Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list to give you an idea:

  • Your age 
  • Your address 
  • Your job title 
  • How many years of No Claims Discount (NCD) you’ve racked up 
  • Your car 
  • Your estimated mileage 
  • Any additional drivers on your policy
  • Claims and driving convictions

Exactly how these factors impact your insurance premium varies. For instance, if you’re under 25, your insurance premium might be higher because younger drivers statistically have more accidents. And if you live in an area with high rates of car theft or accidents, you’ll likely pay more. Plus, if you have a fancy car with all the bells and whistles, you might have to fork out more for insurance.

Some of these factors might make more sense than others. For example, why does your job title affect costs? Here is an article that explains the reasons why job titles matter when it comes to your car insurance premium.

Penalty points 

As you’ve probably gauged from the word “penalty”, penalty points aren’t a good thing. Also called endorsements, these points go on your licence when you’ve committed a motoring offence. They’re assigned by the courts and stay on your record for either 4 or 11 years, depending on the offence. 

If you get 12 penalty points, you could be disqualified from driving altogether. And they can rack up quick. For instance, if you’re driving uninsured, you could end up with 6 points on your licence. Get caught speeding and you could earn yourself another 3 to 6 points. 

As you can probably imagine, having penalty points is not great from a car insurance perspective. Some insurers simply won’t offer you a policy at all if you’ve got penalty points. Others will offer you a policy, but you’re likely to see high premiums as a result. 

Basically, follow the rules and avoid earning these particular “endorsements”. Here is a more detailed article explaining the penalty points system in the UK if you want to know more. 

Man with blue hatchback car with trees and the sun in the background

UK Road Tax

If you want to drive or park your car on any public roads in the UK, you’ll have to pay UK road tax. If you don’t want to pay road tax, you have to keep your car off the road and notify the government by filing a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN). 

If you don’t have a SORN, you have to pay up or you risk an automatic fine. The amount of tax you pay depends on a few things, like the type of car you have, its CO2 emissions, and when it was registered. Generally, cars with particularly high emissions will have higher road tax rates than “greener” cars, like hybrids, for example. 

Some people are exempt from paying tax, but even if your road tax is virtually £0, you still have to “tax” it online. You just won’t need to pay anything for the privilege. Need more info? Here’s a complete guide to road tax to help answer all your burning questions about this particular topic. 

Emergency car insurance 

Emergency car insurance is just another name for temporary car insurance. It’s a type of policy that can last anywhere between an hour to a few weeks and can be arranged fairly quickly. So if you need cover asap for whatever reason, an emergency car insurance policy could get you back on the road in just a few minutes. 

Sometimes life throws you a curveball, and products like emergency car insurance are designed to help you solve a problem quickly. Anytime you need to get behind the wheel of a car you’re not insured to drive quickly, emergency car insurance can help.

This could be because the main driver is feeling unwell and needs you to take over, or because you need to borrow a car when public transport fails you before an important interview, for example. As you can see, this type of car insurance policy has lots of potential advantages. Check out some more examples in this blog post about emergency car insurance


SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) is basically a way to stop taxing and insuring your car when it’s off the road. So, if you’re not driving your car anywhere, you don’t need to fork out money for tax and insurance as long as you park it on your own drive or in your garage.  Makes sense, right?

You can SORN your car online via the government website. It takes minutes to do and it’s super easy. All you need is the details from your V11 tax reminder letter or your log book to get started. 

What happens if you don’t SORN it? Well, not much if your car is taxed and insured. But here’s the deal: if you don’t have a SORN and you’re not insuring and taxing your car, you’ll automatically be slapped with a fine. Ouch! Here is an article that explains what Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) is in more detail so you can make sure you’re making use of this handy feature if you need to. 

Ghost broking 

No, we’re not talking about Casper’s side hustle here. Ghost broking is when scammers sell fake car insurance policies and take your hard-earned money. These fraudsters often prey on young people and those who’ve had trouble getting car insurance, promising amazing deals and unbeatable rates.

But here’s the catch: the policies they sell are often fake, meaning you’re not actually insured. The gist of it is as follows: they take your money, buy a policy using fake details, send you the docs, and then they cancel the policy, pocketing the premium from the refund.

That’s right – you could be driving around without any insurance, which is illegal, and you wouldn’t even know it. Plus, the scammer will have run off with your premium, leaving you high and dry.  If you want to find out how these scammers operate, and how to spot them, check out our detailed ghost broking article here.

Blue hatchback car with trees and the sun in the background

Crash for cash

Crash for cash is a scam where criminals purposefully cause car accidents to get cash from their victims. They’ll brake for no reason or walk out in front of your car hoping you’ll hit them. Then, they’ll use the ensuing confusion to convince you to pay them cash and “make the problem go away”.

But how do they pull off this sneaky scheme, you ask? Well, it often involves driving dangerously and stopping suddenly in front of your car. Sometimes, they might even disconnect their brake lights to catch you off guard. You end up hitting their car, and then they come out of nowhere, with outrageous demands for cash in hand.

Alternatively, they might even walk out in front of your moving car hoping to get hit. They exaggerate their injuries causing you to panic and hand over money. 

To find out how to spot a crash for cash scam and what to do about it, check out our detailed crash for cash article here. 

Car insurance groups 

As you’ll probably know if you’ve read the rest of this article, car insurance premiums are calculated on the basis of many different factors. One of these factors is your car insurance group. 

The car you buy is assigned to one of 50 car insurance groups. Insurers use these groups to calculate your premium. If you buy a car in one of the lower car insurance groups, you’re likely to pay less. If your car is in group 50, then you’ll probably pay more. 

Typically, the more powerful and expensive a car is, the higher its insurance group. All rules have exceptions, but that’s the general idea. 

The good news is, you can usually work out what group your car is going to fall into using one of the many online tools designed for this purpose.

Now, we’re not suggesting you should base your entire purchase off this one factor. Your car insurance premium is a complicated calculation, and your car insurance group is just one part of it.  But if you want to learn more about car insurance groups, we’ve got you covered, check out this car insurance groups guide.

Carbon offsetting 

What’s carbon offsetting all about? It’s a way to mitigate your impact on the planet. It’s the process of compensating for carbon dioxide emissions resulting from human activity. This is typically achieved by participating in projects designed to make reductions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Now, let’s talk about how it works in the context of car insurance – in particular, with Zixty. Driving is obviously not the greenest activity out there. However, if you enable the free Zixty Miles add-on in the app, we’ll carbon-offset all your journeys up to 100 miles a day every day while you’re a customer. 

So, how do we get this done? We partner with the awesome people over at Eden Reforestation to plant trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, which can therefore offset the emissions from your car. By partnering with organisations dedicated to planting trees, we can compensate for the carbon emissions of your car and even make a reduction depending on your driving style. 

Carbon offsetting may sound a bit complex, but with Zixty,  you can now offset a lot of the carbon emissions resulting from your car, and help make the world a greener place. If this concept has piqued your interest, why not check out our carbon offsetting article here?

Blue car with trees and the sun in the background

Driving other cars (DOC) 

If you’re planning on borrowing someone else’s car, you might be thinking about using the driving other cars (DOC) extension that might be included with your comprehensive car insurance policy. The keyword here is “might”. 

People assume DOC comes as standard with a comprehensive policy. That’s not the case. So make sure you triple check your policy to make sure that a) it’s included in your policy and b) you understand what level of cover you’re being offered; and c) when you can use it.

If you have a comprehensive car insurance policy, you might think your DOC will offer the same level of cover when you drive someone else’s car. That’s not typically the case. You’ll usually find you have to make do with third-party car insurance. You might be okay with that, but you might not. 

So if you don’t think DOC offers the level of cover you’re comfortable with, day car insurance could be a solution. This type of cover offers comprehensive cover and doesn’t generally come with any restrictions about emergency usage. Your DOC extension might come with restrictions and limitations. But the good news is, if you need to borrow a car, there is cover to help you do just that. 

App-based car insurance 

There’s an app for everything these days and car insurance is no exception. App-based car insurance helps you manage all insurance-related tasks from one handy app on your phone. 

Depending on the app, you could get a quote for a temporary car insurance policy, view your docs, start a claim, or even send your breakdown location all while you’re on the move. If you have a telematics policy, your app-based car insurance could even act as your personal black box, removing the need for invasive installations in your car. 

At its core, app-based car insurance is simply a matter of convenience. You always have your phone on you anyway, so you’ll never struggle to find documents or carry out simple car insurance tasks anymore. If you’re interested in finding out more, we do have a guide detailing what car insurance apps are all about too, so make sure to check it out. And of course, we have an app too. 

An overview of car insurance jargon 

The world of car insurance can be as opaque as your ex’s instagram feed after they block you. But, this guide is all about demystifying these complicated concepts and making you a little more confident when it comes to picking out your next policy. 

So make sure to bookmark this article, and next time you sit there wondering what on earth app-based car insurance is all about, just come back here and let us enlighten you. Don’t let obscure industry terms catch you off-guard again.