Car insurance is a financial safety net that saves you from paying the full expenses that arise after a car accident, vandalism, damage, or theft. There are multiple types of car insurance you can purchase that will cover your vehicle, yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.
Understanding the various types of car insurance coverage and their associated terms will help you decide what coverage is right for you.
6 main types of car insurance
While many types of coverage are optional, some car insurance is necessary based on where you live and if you’re leasing or financing your vehicle. These are the six major types of auto insurance.
1. Collision insurance
covers damages to your vehicle due to an accident – whether you’ve collided with another car or hit a tree or telephone poll in a single-car accident. If your car is beyond repair, collision insurance will reimburse you based on the actual cash value of your vehicle – minus your deductible. Collision insurance is not state-mandated but is usually required to have if you’re financing or leasing your car.
2. Comprehensive insurance
With , your insurance company will pay for your car to be repaired or replaced following non-collision incidents, such as vandalism, theft or damage from natural disasters. Comprehensive coverage also covers damage to your vehicle if you’ve hit an animal on the road. This type of insurance isn’t mandatory but also is often required by your lender if you have a car loan.
3. Liability insurance
pays for medical expenses and car repair costs for others in accidents you cause. It won’t cover your bills, but rather the expenses of the person or people you hit. Every state except New Hampshire and Virginia requires drivers to purchase – and maintain – liability insurance when they register a vehicle. It typically has two components, bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage. Required minimum liability limits vary by state.
4. Medical payments (MedPay)
– also known as MedPay – covers injury-related expenses for you and your passengers following an accident, even if you were at fault. It can help pay for ambulance fees, health insurance deductibles, and funeral costs in addition to your regular doctor’s bills or hospital bills. MedPay is only required in three states but most states offer it as optional coverage. It is similar to personal injury protection insurance coverage but less comprehensive.
5. Personal injury protection
– also known as PIP – is insurance that covers injury-related expenses for you and your passengers if you’re in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. In addition to your medical costs, it can cover lost wages, at-home care, childcare costs, and funeral expenses. Personal injury coverage is required in about 15 states, including “no-fault” states where drivers are required to file a claim with their own insurance company after an accident, even if they didn’t cause it. For this reason, PIP is sometimes referred to as no-fault insurance.
6. Uninsured motorist insurance/underinsured motorist insurance
covers bills from your injuries – and property damage, depending on the type of coverage – if you get in an accident caused by someone who does not have auto insurance, aka an uninsured driver. Underinsured motorist insurance is similar, but it helps to cover your expenses when you’re in an accident caused by someone who doesn’t have enough insurance. Nearly half of all U.S. states require drivers to have uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is sometimes bundled with underinsured motorist coverage.
10 additional types of auto insurance coverage
Alongside the main types of car insurance, you may choose to purchase additional coverage options to further protect yourself and your vehicle.
1. Auto glass insurance
is optional coverage you can add on to your car insurance policy to cover repairing or replacing a damaged or broken windshield. Depending on the incident, windshield damage could be covered under collision or comprehensive insurance or under the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
2. Classic car insurance
covers bodily injury and property damage liability for vehicles considered classic, collectible or antique. This type of insurance typically includes limitations on how often the car can be driven and requires the vehicle to be securely stored.
3. Custom parts and equipment insurance
– also known as CPE coverage – covers modifications you make to your car to enhance its appearance or performance. If you’ve added custom rims, a new speaker system, tinted windows or a special paint job, these enhancements would not be covered under a standard auto policy unless you’ve added CPE coverage.
4. Delivery drivers insurance or rideshare insurance
If you work as a delivery driver or rideshare driver, your personal auto insurance policy probably won’t cover you if you get into an accident while making a delivery, transporting passengers or waiting in between gigs. You may need to purchase add-on delivery drivers insurance or if you’re not covered under an employer’s commercial insurance policy. Even if your rideshare company provides insurance coverage, there may be instances – such as when you’re waiting to pick up your next passenger or accept your next delivery – when you wouldn’t be covered.
5. Emergency roadside assistance
You can add to your auto insurance policy to get help if you’re stranded on the road. This coverage typically provides towing services, tire change services, battery services, fuel delivery, locksmith services and more. You could also choose to get emergency roadside assistance through an organization such as , or it may be included as a perk from your credit card company or cell phone provider.
6. EV car insurance
If you drive an electric vehicle, you won’t need to purchase special . A standard insurance policy – which could include liability coverage, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and more – will help you cover the costs of injuries, auto repairs or vehicle replacement if you’re in an accident or your car is stolen or damaged. But be prepared: Because electric vehicles tend to have newer technology that is costly to replace and difficult to source, insuring them generally costs more.
7. Gap insurance
– which stands for guaranteed asset protection insurance – helps minimize your financial loss if your car is totaled or stolen and you owe more than your vehicle is worth. Standard insurance policies only pay out up to your car’s current value, which might be much less than your auto loan balance, thanks to depreciation.
8. Non-owners car insurance
provides basic liability coverage for a driver who doesn’t own a vehicle and isn’t included as a under another driver’s policy but frequently rents or borrows someone’s car. Additional coverage, such as medical payments coverage, personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage, may be added to a non-owners car insurance policy for more complete protection.
9. Pay-per-mile insurance
can help infrequent drivers save money on car insurance, but not all insurance companies offer it. Rather than paying a flat car insurance rate based on the cost of your annual policy, you’ll pay two separate rates: one based on your demographics and a second on your usage (or per mile), which is tracked using a telematics device that plugs into your vehicle. The per-mile rate you pay can fluctuate depending how much you drive.
10. Rental car reimbursement
If your car needs to stay at the repair shop following an accident, you can use to cover the costs of a rental car (or other options such as rideshare services or public transportation). Your insurance company may require you to have comprehensive and collision insurance in order to add on rental reimbursement coverage.
Common car insurance questions
Now that you’re familiar with the various types of car insurance, here’s some additional insurance-related information you should know.
How much car insurance do I need?
The amount of car insurance you’ll need will depend on where you live, whether you own your car outright and your financial ability to cover accident-related costs. Each state has its own requirements for car insurance coverage. If you’re leasing or financing your vehicle, there may be additional requirements. You should also consider how much money you’d feel comfortable spending out of pocket should you get into a non-covered accident and have injuries or property damage.
What is full coverage insurance?
When people talk about , they typically mean a combination of liability, collision and comprehensive coverage. This provides a wide range of financial protection to cover medical bills and car repair costs following a car accident or other damage to your vehicle. Additional coverage – such as uninsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection and medical payments coverage – can be added onto your policy and may even be required depending on your state.
What happens if I don’t have car insurance?
If you’re caught , you could be fined, have your vehicle impounded, get your license suspended or potentially face jail time, depending on your state laws. In some cases, you may have to file a form with your state, which serves as a certificate of financial responsibility. You can likely expect higher car insurance premiums after an SR-22 filing or when you get a new policy after having a lapse in coverage.
What factors go into my car insurance premium?
Auto insurance companies use a variety of factors to determine your car insurance premium. The vehicle you drive, the types of insurance coverage you need, your driving record and insurance claims history certainly play a big role. Depending on the laws in your state, other non-driving-related criteria – including your , , , and – can also affect how much you pay for car insurance. Each company has its own method for determining your rates, so get insurance quotes from multiple providers to find the best and .