A guide to comprehensive car insurance in NSW

Drivers in New South Wales pay among the highest comprehensive car insurance premiums in Australia. Canstar explores why this is, what policies are on offer in NSW and how drivers may be able to keep their premiums down.

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How can I compare comprehensive car insurance policies in NSW?

While most car insurers offer cover for drivers across all states and territories in Australia, including NSW, the premiums charged can vary from place to place. This is generally due to local risk factors, such as accident and crime rates.

That said, for drivers in NSW who are comparing their comprehensive car insurance options, it may be worth taking more than just cost into consideration. The level of cover you get for your money is also important, particularly if you live in a part of the state that’s prone to extreme weather that could pose a risk to your vehicle.

To help you shop around for a policy that provides overall value, Canstar rates comprehensive car insurance polices in NSW and other states and territories based on the premiums charged, the level of cover provided, and other features on offer from providers.

In addition, you may be interested in researching providers based on how satisfied their customers in NSW are. Canstar’s Most Satisfied Customers – Car Insurance Award results could be a good starting point.

If you’re considering car insurance policies, the comparison table below displays some of the policies currently available on Canstar’s database for a 30-39 year old male seeking cover in NSW without cover for an extra driver under 25. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by provider name (alphabetical) and features links direct to the providers’ website. Use Canstar’s car insurance comparison selector to view a wider range of policies.

How much does comprehensive car insurance cost in NSW?

Compared to other states and territories in Australia, car insurance premiums in NSW are relatively expensive. In fact, male and female drivers in NSW, except those under 25 years old, pay higher premiums on average than any other state or territory. For male and female drivers under 25, Victorians pay the most in premiums on average, but their NSW counterparts aren’t far behind.

Average comprehensive car insurance premiums in NSW

Age Average annual premium
Under 25 Female $2,204
Under 25 Male $2,471
25-29 $1,798
30-49 $1,258
50+ $998
Family $2,224

Source: www.canstar.com.au, 29/05/2020. Based on comprehensive car insurance policies rated in the Canstar 2020 Car Insurance Star Ratings (May 2020). Premiums include quotes for both new and used cars for a range of scenarios, with a state specific target excess ranging from $600 to $750.

Is comprehensive car insurance compulsory in NSW?

Comprehensive car insurance is not mandatory in NSW, but all vehicles must be covered by at least compulsory third party (CTP) insurance, which is also known as a green slip. CTP insurance only covers you for death and personal injury if you or someone else driving your vehicle is at fault in an accident.

Beyond CTP insurance, motorists in NSW can choose to take out third party property damage cover, third party fire and theft, or comprehensive cover which is generally the most extensive form of cover but also the most expensive. Comprehensive cover protects drivers financially from a range of risks, including theft and damage to the insured vehicle. Depending on the policy, it may also include additional features, like covering the cost of a hire car while your vehicle is being repaired in certain situations.

What are the risks on the road for drivers in NSW?

Insurers take a number of risk factors into account when calculating comprehensive car insurance premiums, including your age, driving history and the car you drive. They also factor in location-specific variables. Generally, these fall into three main categories: crime, road accidents and weather-related events.

Motor crime in NSW

One of the factors insurers consider is the risk that your vehicle will be stolen. They typically assess this risk based on crime statistics for the area the driver is based.

According to carsafe.com, in 2019/20, 20.9% of car thefts were in NSW, while nearly 30% (29.7%) were in Victoria. Some other states and territories, such as the Northern Territory (641 thefts, or 1.1%) had relatively fewer thefts during the year. However, NSW currently has the lowest rate of theft in the country when the number of car registrations in each state and territory is taken into account, averaging just over 2 thefts for every 1,000 registrations.

Motor vehicle thefts in NSW compared to other states and territories

State or Territory Total thefts in 2019/20 Theft rate per 1,000 registrations
ACT 1,131 3.64
NSW 11,774 2.04
NT 641 4.00
QLD 14,500 3.27
SA 3,484 2.31
TAS 1,190 2.45
VIC 16,751 3.16
WA 6,841 2.95
AUS 56,312 2.78

Source: carsafe.com, 2020.

Looking at regions within the state, according to recent data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), the Far West and Orana, Murray, Riverina and New England and Northwest regions had the highest property theft (including motor theft) rates when compared to the state as whole.

Perhaps surprisingly, Greater Sydney had the joint lowest property theft rate of the regions in the state.

As well as where you live, insurers generally also take factors specific to your home into account when calculating your premiums. This can include whether your car is parked in a secure garage or on the street.

To help keep your vehicle safe, the NSW Police force advises people to ensure that gates at their property are kept closed and locked to restrict unauthorised access. It also suggests that when people are away from home they should  park their vehicle in a busy, well-lit area and avoid car parks that have a history of theft or break-ins.

Taking steps such as checking BOCSAR local area crime maps and paying attention to local news reports may help you to identify crime-prone areas.

Road crashes in NSW

Comprehensive car insurance also covers drivers financially for accidents that occur on the road. NSW tends to have high numbers of road accidents compared to other parts of the country, perhaps at least partly due to its higher population.

For example, of all the Australian states and territories, New South Wales had the highest number of road fatalities in the 12 months to September 2020, with a total of 323, according to the Australian Government. This was a 5.6% decrease on the previous 12 months. NSW has also had the highest number of people hospitalised with injuries caused on the road each year over the period from 2001–16.

When looking at the types of road accidents that occur in the state, Transport for NSW data shows that in 2018, rear end accidents were the most common, followed by accidents where a vehicle went off path or lost control, either on a straight or when travelling around a bend. In city areas, accidents were also common for road users travelling at adjacent directions on intersections.

Weather risks for motorists in NSW

Like many parts of Australia, NSW can be prone to extreme weather which could cause damage to a vehicle. This can include rain and thunderstorms with hail, as well as flooding and  bushfires.

While these kinds of risks can already be significant in NSW, a report from insurer IAG on Severe Weather in a Changing Climate predicts that certain extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones and large and giant hail could become an even greater risk for the state.

Unlike other levels of car insurance, such as third-party damage, comprehensive car insurance generally provides cover for some weather-related risks, such as flooding, hail and bushfires.

This article was reviewed by our Sub Editor Jacqueline Belesky before it was published, as part of our fact-checking process.

Main image source: baona (iStock). 

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