Third party Insurance vs Comprehensive Insurance

By Doreen Silungwe

Any motor vehicle that is driven on the road poses a threat of causing injury, death or property damage to third parties through involvement in road traffic accidents. 

The owner of the vehicle that is involved in such an accident may become immediately liable to compensate the other parties if he or she is the one who is deemed to have caused the accident. Mostly likely, one risks having their own vehicle damaged in the same mishap.

Own damage expenses and third party liabilities may be huge and the person who caused the accident may not have the financial capacity to meet the costs that come with such unfortunate events.

Motor vehicle insurance however is able to offer such an unfortunate motorist financial protection against third party claimants as well as cover costs for repairing their valued car.

Motor insurance contract has two parties to it. The first party is the insured or the owner of the vehicle while the second party is the insurance company. The third party is anyone who is not party to this insurance contract but is privy to claim on such a policy as they would have been inconvenienced by the first party’s negligence on the road.

There are three main types of insurance in Zambia. These are Act Only or Third Party Insurance, Full Third Party Insurance and Comprehensive Insurance.

Act Only insurance covers injury or death, which may arise whilst one is driving their motor vehicle. Arising from the obvious advantages especially to third parties (accident victims), third party insurance in most countries is made compulsory by law to manage the risks associated with driving. In Zambia, Section 86 of the Road Traffic Act No 11 of 2002 makes motor third party liability (Act Only) insurance a mandatory requirement for all motor vehicles.

It is important to mention here, that Act Only Insurance provides you minimum legal requirement for injury and death liability cover – it does not provide cover for damage to property, as it is not full third party insurance, which we are focusing on today.

Full third party Insurance is an upgrade to Act Only insurance in that apart from covering death and injury liabilities, the insurance also covers you for property damage belonging to third parties. Full third party insurance can be extended to include fire and theft for your own vehicle at a reasonable amount. If you have an accident and at fault, full third party insurance will compensate the other parties involved. This could be for damage to their vehicle or any injuries that they would have sustained. However, full third party insurance does not provide cover you or your vehicle. This means you will not receive any compensation for damage to your vehicle or injury to yourself.

One of the advantages of full third party insurance is the fact that you will be financially protected in the event that you are liable to pay for damage inflicted to another vehicle or other road users because of an accident.

Though the primary objective of getting the vehicle insured with a full third party cover is met, obtaining only a full third party liability has its own limitations. This is because it does not cover the damages of your vehicle or injuries to yourself. You, therefore, may need to also consider risks you may personally suffer and comprehensive insurance may be the best option as it will not only cover the third party but also cover you and your vehicle.

Comprehensive insurance as the name suggests, is more accommodating as it covers third party liabilities named above as well as own damage to your vehicle.

Comprehensive insurance also covers emergency medical bills to the insured arising from a motor vehicle accident, natural perils such as storm and flood and theft of the motor vehicle. The cover could also be extended to cover malicious damage, access to a courtesy vehicle and any other add-ons that may not be covered in a standard policy.

This insurance policy cover is highly recommendable as it offers end-to-end coverage and hence ensures less stress for the policyholder.

Without a comprehensive insurance cover, you risk paying from your pocket for expensive repairs of damages of your vehicle following an accident.

However, even with comprehensive insurance, your insurer will only settle the total amount owing within insured limits. As an insured, you are also required to bear a percentage of any property damage claim amount. This is called Excess.

Comprehensive insurance premiums are slightly higher than third-party insurance cover. This is because it provides a lot more benefits to the insured compared to third party insurance.

When in doubt, seek for assistance from an insurance broker or read widely on what the policy covers. Key facts statements can also be helpful in choosing a suitable level of cover.

In the end, choosing the right insurance cover comes down to your specific needs. If you own a new or expensive car, it is a good idea to have a comprehensive cover that offers maximum protection for your vehicle and any third party liabilities.

For comments or questions, send us an email at pia@ or follow us on our Facebook page, Pensions and Insurance Authority.

You can also call us on 211-251 401/5 or 0977-335809 or 0965-255136.

For complaints, kindly use the following details:

Pensions-related complaints: Mobile: 0950-136663, Email: pensions@

Insurance-related complaints: Mobile: 0950-136662, Email: The author is the Communications Manager at the Pensions and Insurance Authority.