May 21, 2021 | Car insurance,

Car Insurance Glossary

The world of car insurance can get confusing — there’s no doubt about it! Still, if you’re in the process of getting a car insurance quote, have no fear. We’ve made this handy glossary of frequently used terms to make understanding your policy documents a breeze…

Common jargon and terms explained simply

Here are the basics of what you need to know:

Breakdown cover

Insurance that allows you to get assistance if your vehicle breaks down. Personal breakdown covers you in any vehicle (as long as it meets your policy requirements). Vehicle breakdown cover allows you to claim for a specific vehicle or number of vehicles.

Central Bank of Ireland

Ireland’s financial services companies (including insurance companies) are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.  You can use the Central Bank of Ireland’s registers to get a list of regulated companies.


Comprehensive car insurance protects you in a number of scenarios:

  • In the event of theft (or attempted theft)
  • In the event of a fire
  • Accidental damage to your car
  • Claims made against you by others for damage to their property or personal injury

Cover note

If the real, physical copy of your insurance policy is not yet available, a temporary cover note (document) can be used to prove the existence of your policy.

Fault claim

This is a claim in which the insurer has paid out but cannot recover the costs from someone else. A fault claim can also be an accident or loss where you (the driver) are deemed to be at fault.

Geographical limits

These are the locations outside of which you (the person insured) are not covered by an insurance policy.


Protection against a loss. The insurance company will compensate the insured for the specified loss (as outlined in the insurance policy).

Insured value

This is either the replacement cost or the market value of your vehicle. It is the maximum that your insurance policy will pay in the event of an accident resulting in your car being written off.

Loss of a limb

A personal injury involving the severing of a body part.

Main driver

This is the person that is covered by the car insurance. They are either the owner, the registered keeper of the vehicle, or the person who uses it the most often.

Material fact

Any facts that are considered by an insurer when deciding whether to provide an individual with cover. They help insurers assess the risk of providing insurance.

Mid-term adjustments (MTA)

These are adjustments to your policy during the specified period of insurance. 


A change made to a vehicle (which is not part of the manufacturer’s standard specification) that alters its performance, functionality, or aesthetics.

Named driver

A driver (that is not the main driver) named in the schedule as covered by that insurance. They are allowed to drive the vehicle (with the policyholder’s permission) under the terms detailed in the policy.

No claims discount (NCD)

You may receive a percentage discount on your premium based on the number of years that you have remained claim-free.

No claims discount protection

Optional cover that you can add to your insurance that protects your no claims discount if you need to make a claim. You will need to pay more for this cover.

Non-fault claim

In the event of a non-fault claim, the insurer can recover the costs of the claim from another individual. 

Open driving

A policy that enables other people within certain parameters to drive your car (whilst being insured) as long as they have your permission.

Personal accident cover

Cover that provides specified financial benefits following death or serious injury of the driver or its occupants as a result of a motor accident they are responsible for.

Policy excess – voluntary and compulsory

The policy excess is the fixed amount that the insured needs to contribute if they make a claim. Compulsory excess is what you’re required to pay. Voluntary excess refers to the amount you choose to pay on top of the compulsory excess (to possibly reduce future premiums). Find out more about voluntary and compulsory excess in our blog post. 


The premium is the cost of the insurance policy. It’s the amount that the insured pays the insurance company for their cover.


The document that includes all the details of your insurance and the cover you’re entitled to.


Payment from the insurance company to the insured to settle an insurance claim.

Social, domestic and pleasure

This cover lets you drive your car for your private use, plus to and from your permanent workplace. It does not cover business use therefore no business visits or phone calls should be made on the journey.

Step back protection

This protection ensures that the insured doesn’t lose their full no claims discount (NCD) if they need to make a claim. You will lose some of your NCD, but not all of it. 

Telematic or black box insurance

This is when the insurance policy will only cover you if you have a telematics system or black box monitor in your vehicle. Your insurance provider uses this to monitor your driving and adjust your car insurance premium accordingly.

Temporary driver

This lets another driver drive your vehicle for a specified temporary period whilst being fully insured in the event of an accident.

Temporary vehicle substitute

A private car (not owned by the policyholder) that is being temporarily used (with the owner’s permission) as a substitute for the policymaker’s owned car. Substitution occurs when the policyholder’s maker’s car is not in use due to repair, servicing, breakdown or another valid reason.

Third-party fire and theft

This cover protects you in the event of:

  • Fire
  • Theft (or attempted theft)
  • Personal injury or property damage claims made against you

Third-party only (TPO)

This is the minimum level of car insurance that is required. It does not cover damage to your vehicle, just your legal liability for:

  • Damage to someone else’s property
  • Injury caused to other people
  • Accidents that are caused by another driver on your policy or your passengers

Uninsured loss recovery (ULR)

This refers to when your insurer helps you recover your uninsured losses from a third party (if the accident is their fault).

Uninsured losses

These are losses that aren’t covered by your insurance policy e.g. your policy excess, loss of earnings or other out-of-pocket expenses after an accident, or compensation for an injury suffered in an accident.

Windscreen cover

This is cover for any damage that occurs to the car’s windscreen or another car window (excluding the sunroof), plus scratching on the bodywork that also occurred at the time of damage.

Terms related to driving in Ireland

Here are a few important terms for drivers in Ireland: 

Green card

The Green Card (International Motor Insurance Card) is an internationally recognised document that allows you to drive a specific vehicle in Europe. It shows that you have the required car insurance for your trip. One Green Card can’t be used for two different vehicles.

Motor tax 

You must pay an annual motor tax on vehicles driven in public spaces in Ireland. For vehicles registered after July 1st 2008, the rate you need to pay is based on your vehicle’s emissions.


NCT is a compulsory vehicle inspection programme in Ireland that aims to improve road safety and reduce vehicle emissions.


CVRT is a compulsory roadworthiness test for all commercial vehicles, buses with more than an eight-person capacity, and ambulances one year after first registration and yearly thereafter. Similar to the NCT, the CVRT is a preventative method to ensure all commercial vehicles meet the basic safety requirements.

Penalty points system

The penalty points system (introduced in 2002) is designed to encourage safe driving. You accumulate points for driving offences and if you have twelve within a three year period you are disqualified from driving for six months.

V5 registration document 

If you want to import a car from the UK into Ireland, you’ll need to inform the DVLA and get a V5C document (also known as a vehicle log book) from the seller. You must keep hold of your V5C.

VIN number

Your vehicle will have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or Chassis Number that was assigned to it when it was manufactured. You can find it on your dashboard and it can be used to identify your vehicle.

Campion Insurance

Looking for the best car insurance quote? As one of Ireland’s largest insurance brokers, we can help. Use our comparison page to explore your options and get a quote today. Have any questions? Contact us for a chat. 


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