|Covers||Collision with another car, an object such as a building, fence, or guardrail, and single-car accidents||Damage caused by animals, falling objects, fire, natural disasters, vandalism, and theft|
|Required||Not required by state law, but may be required by your lender or leasing agent||Not required by state law, but may be required by your lender|
|Cost||Typically higher||Typically lower|
|Deductible||Yes; typically, higher amounts offered||Yes; typically, lower amounts offered|
Collision Auto Insurance
Collision car insurance covers your vehicle’s damage repairs caused by:
- An accident or contact with another vehicle.
- A collision with a building, guardrail, person, rock, tree, or wildlife.
- Damage from a rollover.
- Car damage caused by an uninsured driver, potentially.
If one of the above occurs, this coverage type pays to repair your car, even when you’re at fault for an accident. Ask your insurer for details, however. In most cases, comprehensive coverage is the coverage type that covers animal collisions, including hitting a deer.
Collision auto insurance doesn’t cover damage you cause to someone else’s property or any injuries to you or your passengers.
In a few states, such as Massachusetts and Michigan, “limited collision” coverage is a cheaper collision coverage type that only pays if you’re less than 50% at fault.
Cost of Collision Auto Insurance
National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) data shows that U.S. drivers paid an average annual collision premium of $370.73 in 2020. However, costs can vary by location. For instance, that same year, California drivers paid the most, with an average premium of $501.64 per year, while Wisconsin motorists paid the least with an average of $244.82.
Costs may depend on:
- Value of the vehicle: Higher-priced or luxury cars generally cost more to insure, as they’ll also cost more to repair
- Repair cost: The general, historical cost to repair the car
- Crash damages: The type of damage your particular car often incurs in a crash
A deductible is the amount you pay toward repairs before your insurance begins paying for any remaining repairs (up to the actual cash value of your car). You can choose your deductible when buying collision coverage. It’s offered in various options such as $200, $500, $1,000, or more.
A higher deductible lowers the amount of your overall insurance premium, but you’ll have to pay more out of pocket if you have an accident.
Comprehensive Auto Insurance
Comprehensive auto insurance covers repairing non-collision damages and losses, even if you’re at fault somehow. Comprehensive coverage can help pay the cost of repairing damages caused by factors like:
- Civil disturbances such as riots
- Falling objects
Comprehensive is also the coverage type to pay repair costs for your windshield and other car glass.
Cost of Comprehensive Auto Insurance
Generally, comprehensive coverage is less expensive than collision insurance. Nationwide, in 2020, automobile owners paid an average of $174.26 for comprehensive auto insurance, according to the NAIC. Costs vary by location. California drivers paid the least, at an average of $97.26 annually for comprehensive coverage, while South Dakota motorists paid an average of $353.10.
Factors that could lead to higher comprehensive premium rates include:
- Car and repair costs: Repair costs for your vehicle’s make and model
- Car theft: How often a particular car is stolen, or the rate of auto thefts in your location
- Weather events: If you live in a region prone to severe weather, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, you may pay more.
In general, comprehensive deductibles are provided in lower amounts compared to comprehensive deductibles, starting at $100.
Comprehensive car insurance typically covers glass and windshield damage. An insurer may offer glass coverage with or without a deductible. Choosing no deductible will help you avoid out-of-pocket costs but will increase your comprehensive premium. Some states, such as Kentucky, require zero-deductible glass damage coverage if you carry comprehensive insurance.
Key Differences Between Comprehensive Vs. Collision Auto Insurance
If your car is damaged in a road collision with another car or object and you’re at fault, only your collision coverage can help pay to repair it. Only comprehensive coverage covers losses caused by contact with animals, civil disturbances, fires, natural disasters, theft, and vandalism.
Your personal collision and comprehensive coverages may include rental car damages while you’re on vacation. Check with your car insurance agent for details and to ensure coverage is extended to rentals. Remember that you’ll still need to pay the deductible, any claims may raise your premium, and all expenses may not be covered—such as loss of income for the rental agency.
Some insurers may not extend physical damage coverage for certain difficult-to-insure cars, whether due to high theft rates or repair and replacement costs. Or you may need to have a high deductible of $1,000 or more.
For other types of situations, neither collision nor comprehensive coverage would apply. Here are the types of auto insurance policies that would cover other situations:
|Medical expenses for you or your passengers||PIP, medical or your health insurance policy|
|Other auto’s driver or passenger medical expenses||Bodily liability|
|The difference between your collision payment and the amount owed on a new vehicle||GAP insurance|
|Car rental while repairs are performed||Auto rental coverage|
|Mechanical breakdowns||Mechanical breakdown insurance|
|General wear and tear and maintenance costs||No coverage available—pay out of pocket|
|Theft of items from your car||Possibly homeowners or renters’ policy|
State laws do not require drivers to buy collision and comprehensive car insurance coverages. But when you borrow money to buy a car or lease an auto, the leasing company or lender will likely require you to carry both types of protections. If you don’t purchase these policies, the lender may buy them for you and charge you for it, also known as forced-place insurance.
Depending on state and insurer, the insurer may drop your collision and comprehensive coverage if you have an excessive claim history or only specific claim types, taking into account both at-fault and not-at-fault claims.
Typically, collision car insurance costs more than comprehensive coverage. The cost of both types of coverage can depend on factors such as your location and the type of vehicle you drive.
Your premiums may increase if you have had frequent or high-value claims. You may more often see premiums increase where you were at fault for collisions versus not-at-fault comprehensive. Increased premiums may depend on state laws and insurance companies.
For example, in Texas, an insurer can raise your premium if you have three claims over 36 months for damage from flying gravel or other flying or falling objects, which fall under comprehensive coverage.
Typically, collision and comprehensive coverages have separate deductibles, and you can choose different amounts for each deductible. Comprehensive coverage deductibles are typically offered in lower amounts than for collision coverage.
Some states set minimums for deductibles. In New York, insurers must charge at least a $50 deductible for comprehensive and $100 for collision, but a $0 deductible is allowed for glass damages.
When it’s claim time, you pay separate deductibles for each incident. If you’re in a fender-bender in the morning, and a tree falls on your car in the afternoon, you’ll be charged two separate deductibles—one for collision and one for comprehensive.
Is Collision or Comprehensive Car Insurance Better?
If you finance or lease a car, you’ll have to carry both collision and comprehensive coverage until you pay off the loan or the lease ends.
If you own a vehicle outright, you may not need either coverage. However, figure out how much you can afford to spend out of pocket if you total your automobile, if it’s stolen, or if it sustains natural disaster damage. If you have an older car with a low market value, carrying collision or comprehensive coverages might not make financial sense.
Suppose you just paid off your car loan and your automobile still has a $15,000 market value. Depending on the cost of your insurance premium, it might make financial sense to continue carrying collision and comprehensive coverages. But, if your vehicle has a market value of less than $3,000, you can likely drop both coverages.
Do You Need Both Comprehensive and Collision Auto Insurance?
Car leasing companies and lenders require lessors and borrowers to carry collision and comprehensive car insurance coverages. If you own your vehicle outright, you might consider discontinuing collision, comprehensive, or both coverages. However, remember that if you drop collision and comprehensive coverages, you’ll have to use your own funds to pay for losses. Generally, it makes good financial sense to drop both coverages when your car’s market value dips below about $3,000.
Does Comprehensive Mean Full Coverage?
No. Lenders and auto leasing companies typically require customers to buy a full-coverage car insurance policy. “Full coverage” is not an actual policy type. It typically refers to an auto insurance policy that includes all legally required coverages, like bodily injury and property damage liability, plus collision and comprehensive coverages.
What Is Third-Party Insurance?
You file a third-party insurance claim when you think the accident was the other driver’s fault, and you file a claim with their insurance company. If the insurance company agrees and pays your claim, you do not pay a deductible for any car repairs. If you first file a claim with your company under collision coverage and pay the deductible, your company may be able to refund the deductible to you later.
Is It Better to Have a High or a Low Deductible?
Choosing a high deductible can lower your premium, but it requires you to pay more out of pocket if you need to file a claim. Car owners who can afford to pay for losses using their funds may choose a high deductible. Sometimes, your insurer may require a higher deductible if you have an excessive claim history.
On the other hand, a low deductible can help you avoid high out-of-pocket costs following an accident but will require you to pay a higher premium. Drivers with limited savings may benefit from paying a higher premium, with the assurance that their policy will cover higher losses.
The Bottom Line
Collision and comprehensive auto insurance coverages provide valuable protections. If you drive an expensive vehicle, consider carrying both types of coverage to protect your assets in the event of a major loss. However, not all drivers need collision or comprehensive coverage. If you’ve paid off your car loan and your automobile has little market value, carrying these protections is probably not cost-effective.
Also, consider your risk level. You might not need collision and comprehensive auto insurance if you own your vehicle and only drive it occasionally. But, if you live in a location with high auto theft or traffic accident rates, the extra protection might be valuable in the long run.