If you rely on your car to get you from point A to point B and everywhere in between, then you want it to be protected at all times and against all possible risks. Having the minimum required coverage is great, but sometimes it's comforting to know you have a little something extra stowed away for a rainy day.
Fortunately, choosing the right blend of auto insurance is the perfect job for an independent insurance agent.
After reading the information below, you'll understand the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage and can work with an independent agent to make sure you have the right coverage in place.
What Is Comprehensive Coverage?
Comprehensive coverage is an added protection you can tag onto your standard car insurance policy. In the unfortunate event that you find yourself in an accident, comprehensive coverage will pay to repair or replace your vehicle if the damage wasn't caused by a collision with another car or object.
Comprehensive coverage is commonly called "other than collision." However, some collisions are still covered under this policy, such as colliding with an animal.
Frequency of private passenger comprehensive auto insurance claims for physical damage in the United States
Each year, 2.85 private passenger comprehensive auto claims for physical damage are filed in the United States.
What Is Collision Coverage?
In short, it’s an agreement between you and an insurance company where the insurer will help pay to repair or replace your vehicle in the event of collisions with other cars or inanimate objects.
Frequency of private passenger auto collision insurance claims for physical damage in the United States
Each year, there are roughly six auto collisions between private drivers per every 100 cars that result in insurance claims for physical damage.
What’s the Difference between Comprehensive and Collision Coverage?
The short and sweet of it is that collision coverage is designed for when you "collide" with something, and comprehensive coverage is designed for everything else.
Both comprehensive and collision coverage go above and beyond the legal minimum of liability coverage which pays for damages you might cause to other drivers and pedestrians so they’re not left high and dry.
While it's not necessary to have both types of coverage, they are both valuable. Depending on what you're in the market for or the type of driver you are, you might want one or the other, both, or neither.
The fact that comprehensive and collision coverage are two very different types of insurance is why the name “comprehensive coverage” is misleading. It’s really only one part of truly comprehensive coverage. In some states, comprehensive coverage is called “other than collision” for this reason.
What Does Comprehensive Coverage Cover?
Basically, it covers everything except collisions with inanimate objects or other vehicles — that’s what collision coverage is for. A typical comprehensive policy will include these types of coverage:
- Theft: Covers replacement if your car gets stolen.
- Vandalism: Covers repairs if your car is the target of graffiti, keying, or other pranks.
- Flood: Covers repair and replacement if your car is flooded.
- Fire: Covers repair and replacement if your car catches on fire by Mother Nature or any other form of fire.
- Severe weather: Covers damage by hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.
- Animal accidents: Covers repair and replacement if you hit a deer, skunk, cow, or another critter.
- Riot: Covers if your car is the victim of violence during a riot.
- Glass breakage: Covers repairs to your windshield and windows in case of damage.
Quick note: Comprehensive coverage does NOT cover ordinary wear and tear repairs.
What Does Collision Coverage Cover?
It covers the cost of repairs (or replacement, if your car is totaled) in case of an accident that involves other vehicles or inanimate objects. Fender bender? Covered. Did you accidentally back into a mailbox or lamp post? That’s covered too.
Quick note: Collision coverage does NOT cover damage due to collisions with animals like deer and skunks. You’ll need comprehensive coverage for that.
How Much Does Comprehensive vs. Collision Coverage Cost?
When shopping for car insurance, you’ll likely have four options to consider. The prices below are rough estimates for an average driver with a good record.
- Liability only: This is the cheapest option and the legal bare minimum which could cost you around $600 a year.
- Liability and comprehensive: This is a mid-range option. In this case, “comprehensive” means “other than collision.” These combined policies could cost around $800 per year.
- Liability and collision: This is another mid-range option. In this case, collision means “just collisions.” These combined policies could also cost around $800 per year.
- Full coverage: This is the most expensive option. With all three policies combined (liability, comprehensive and collision), the annual price could be around $1,100.
Quick note: Every driver is different, and those costs will scale up or down depending on these factors:
- Car value: Expensive cars are more expensive to insure because replacement and repair costs are higher. The opposite is true for cheaper vehicles.
- Safety record: One or two fender benders won’t hurt you too much, but major offenses like DUIs will cause your costs to skyrocket.
- Experience and age: The longer you’ve had your license, the less you’re likely to pay. Age is also a factor. Most drivers see a big drop-off in costs after age 25.
- Location: Different regions (called “rating territories”) have different risks that affect costs. For example, drivers in congested cities will likely pay more for insurance because heavy traffic is a risk factor for accidents, even if you’re a good driver otherwise.
Do I Need Comprehensive or Collision Coverage?
It all depends on the value of your car, how you drive it, and whether you can afford to repair or replace it if there’s an accident.
- If you’re driving a car where the value is so low that repairs or replacement would be cheaper than the premiums of additional policies, then you probably don't need more than the minimum liability coverage.
- If your car is worth more than five grand, then full coverage (comprehensive AND collision) might be worth the premiums if you can afford it. And at a minimum, you should be carrying one of the two.
- If you need to decide between comprehensive and collision coverage, you should base that decision on how you drive your car. If you commute in heavy traffic, collision is probably the better choice, whereas comprehensive is better in disaster-prone or high crime areas.
The Awesome Benefits of an Independent Agent
Your car is one of your most important assets. Don’t let mistakes and misunderstandings get between you and the coverage you need. Independent agents simplify the process by comparing insurance quotes for you. They’ll also cut the jargon and clarify the fine print so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Most importantly, they’ll be there to help you and your family in case of an accident. They’re experts at handling claims and helping you maximize the benefits of your insurance.
Finding Comprehensive vs. Collision Coverage Quotes
Instant online insurance quotes are nice, but algorithms are designed for the lowest common denominator and can miss important details. An independent agent does the hard work behind the scenes so you can enjoy a policy that strikes the perfect balance of meeting your needs and saving you money.