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What does full coverage mean?


What exactly full coverage includes is a common question on our website because the term is often used by lienholders and loss payees to verify that a car is "fully covered".

Unfortunately, it is a very subjective term that can have different meanings to different individuals, companies or additional interests in an insurance contract. "Full coverage" does not mean every possible injury, liability exposure or part on your vehicle is covered.

Many people that buy full coverage and then need to make a claim are upset because they aren't really fully covered for every peril. It would be hard to buy a policy where you are fully covered against ever exposure, however, you can protect yourself from the most common exposures. (See "How much car insurance should you buy?")

Each state is different, but typically when you request full coverage you get collision and comprehensive coverage along with other required state-required coverages.

Most states require property damage liability and bodily injury liability in most states.  No-fault states also require PIP coverage. Some companies automatically package "full coverage" to include uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage and/or medical payments coverage.

Understand that some auto insurers packages include rental car reimbursement coverage and towing coverage. Be aware that come rental car reimbursement policies only cover you after you have been involved in an accident and made a claim toward you physical damage coverage.  So what can be part of a full coverage package will vary by insurer.  It's best to shop for the coverages you know you need and stay away from the term "full coverage" since it means something different to various companies or agents.

Today a customer was buying a policy and they asked me if they were buying "full coverage." It is hard for any agent to say that you are fully covered, but most agents simply consider coverage for a vehicle (collision and comprehensive) as full coverage.

You can read our coverage definitions page to understand how these coverages protect you.  And to help understand which coverage you need for various incidents, see our insurance coverage guide.


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