There are a lot of different coverages that can be included in an auto insurance policy. While it’s often crucial and required to have at least a minimum level of liability coverage, it pays to also have comprehensive and collision coverages to protect your vehicle.
Keep reading to explore how collision and comprehensive coverages work, what they protect and exclude, good candidates for these coverages, deductible decisions and more.
- Collision coverage serves as a financial cushion in case your car is damaged by another vehicle or object.
- Comprehensive coverage protects you from non-collision events that can result in damage to or loss of your vehicle.
- It’s a good idea to compare quotes and offers from several different insurers to find the best deals on comprehensive and collision coverages.
- What are comprehensive and collision insurance?
- What do collision and comprehensive insurance cover?
- What do collision and comprehensive insurance exclude?
- Factors to consider before buying comprehensive and collision coverage
- Should I get collision and comprehensive insurance?
- How to save on comprehensive and collision insurance
- Comprehensive deductible vs. collision deductible
- Comprehensive vs. collision insurance claims
- Resources & Methodology
What are comprehensive and collision insurance?
Comprehensive coverage is sometimes referred to as “other than collision” coverage. It provides financial protection for non-collision incidents, including theft, fire, vandalism and natural disasters, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Comprehensive coverage reimburses you for the costs of repairing your car, minus the deductible.
Collision coverage, on the other hand, safeguards you in the event of damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with another car or object. Most auto loan lenders require it.
What do collision and comprehensive insurance cover?
Comprehensive insurance covers incidents like theft, vandalism, fire, severe weather and natural disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and volcanic eruptions.
“Comprehensive also protects from damage to vehicles caused by civil disturbances, animal strikes – such as hitting a deer while driving – falling objects like trees or ice, and cracked windshields,” says Mark Friedlander, director of corporate communications for the Insurance Information Institute.
Collision insurance pays for damage to your vehicle resulting from a crash with an object, such as another vehicle, a tree, guardrail or light pole. It also covers damage from rollover accidents and potholes. Collision coverage reimburses you for the costs of repairing your car, minus the deductible.
What do collision and comprehensive insurance exclude?
So, while collision coverage serves as a financial cushion in case your car hits another vehicle or object, it doesn’t cover damages from things like theft or even natural disaster disasters – that’s where comprehensive coverage comes in. Likewise, comprehensive coverage won’t financially protect you from damages resulting from a crash with another auto or object.
“Also, collision and comprehensive coverage will not cover personal property that is stolen from your car. Your homeowners insurance may cover this,” says Tim Bottini, a Country Financial insurance agent. “And general maintenance and mechanical breakdowns like a fuel pump that goes out or a belt break are not covered by your comprehensive or collision insurance, either.”
Factors to consider before buying comprehensive and collision coverage
“Considerations for these coverages should include whether or not you have the financial means to replace your vehicle if it is totaled by a collision or a flood, or if it is stolen and not recovered,” Friedlander says.
Ask yourself: What would you do if you were in a car accident that you caused or if your car was vandalized? Would you be able to pay to repair or replace your car?
“It’s important to talk with your auto insurance agent to review your options and the cost of car insurance protection. Then, you can make the coverage choices that are right for you and your budget,” Bottini says.
Before pulling the trigger on comprehensive or collision coverage, consider the age and value of your vehicle, your driving habits, and the area where you live. For instance, if you reside in an area prone to natural disasters or high crime rates, comprehensive or full coverage car insurance is a good idea.
Note that if you have an auto loan or lease, you will usually be required to carry both comprehensive and collision coverages. But for other drivers, these coverages are optional.
Remember: You must carry your state’s minimum auto insurance coverage. However, this is precisely that – a minimum. CarInsurance.com editors recommend full coverage insurance with liability limits of 100/300/100.
“Beyond that, you can decide what types and levels of protection you need for your personal financial situation,” Bottini says.
Should I get collision and comprehensive insurance?
With the escalating expenses of repairs and replacement vehicles, which have risen 50% since 2019, Friedlander says most drivers should consider carrying collision and comprehensive coverages on their auto insurance policies.
“However, for those who have older vehicles with minimal replacement value, collision and comprehensive may not be cost-effective because your deductible could be higher than the actual claim payout,” he says.
Good candidates for comprehensive and collision coverage include those with newer or more expensive cars, those living in areas with higher rates of vehicle theft or natural disasters and people who commute frequently.
How to save on comprehensive and collision insurance
“The best way to save on comprehensive and collision coverages is to adjust your deductibles,” Friedlander says. “Remember that each coverage has its own separate deductible: The higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be. Just keep in mind that a higher deductible also means you will need to pay more out of pocket when filing a claim.”
Comprehensive deductible vs. collision deductible
The deductible amount you must meet before insurance coverage kicks in will vary by insurer and choice.
“The most common deductible amounts for both collision coverage and comprehensive coverage are $250, $500, and $1,000. Remember that each coverage has a separate deductible,” Friedlander says.
You get to set your deductible cost when you first purchase your auto insurance policy, and you should be able to change your deductible level at any time.
“You can, for example, discuss your deductible amount with your insurance agent during your regular insurance review and make any changes you feel are necessary,” Bottini says. “Just note that if you lower your deductible after a claim, the change will not be effective on claims that occurred before you made the change.”
Comprehensive vs. collision insurance claims
Friedlander recommends the following steps and tips when you need to file a claim:
- Contact your insurance professional as soon as possible – even from the accident scene – regardless of who is at fault. “Even if the accident appears minor, it’s important to let your insurance company know about the incident and to find out whether your auto insurance policy covers you for the particular loss,” he says.
- Use a mobile app to jumpstart your claim. Many carriers offer mobile apps that enable you to report a claim, check the status, upload photos, confirm your deductible, schedule an appraisal, reserve a rental car, and request reimbursements for glass and towing claims. “Some apps even allow you to notify the insurance adjuster about what happened by visually re-creating the events and circumstances of your car accident,” says Friedlander.
- Learn what documents are necessary to support your claim. Your insurer will require a “proof of claim” form and, if you filled one out at the accident scene, a copy of the police report.
- Understand the timing of your claim. To avoid missing a critical claim deadline, ask these questions:
- Does my policy contain a time limit for filing claims and submitting bills?
- Is there a time limit for resolving claims disputes?
- If I need to submit additional information, is there a deadline?
- When can I expect my carrier to contact me?
- Determine if your policy pays for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. “Some policies have a time limit on the rental – such as 30 days maximum – while others have a per-day dollar amount,” Friedlander says. “Many insurers have contracted rates with rental car companies.”
- Provide any information your carrier requests. Fill out your claims form carefully. Retain thorough and organized records of anything about the claim, such as the phone numbers and names of everyone you speak with working for your carrier, as well as copies of any bills related to the accident. Contact your adjuster, insurance professional or state’s insurance department if you have any questions.
Resources & Methodology
Carinsurance.com. “Cheapest car insurance companies for 2023”. Accessed September 2023.
CarInsurance.com editors in 2023 collected rates from Quadrant Information Services for a 40-year-old male driving a 2021 Honda Accord LX with a good insurance score and no violation on record for a full coverage insurance policy with limits 100/300/100 and $500 comprehensive and collision deductible. We analyzed 5,000,736 records, 1,467 ZIP codes and 212 insurance companies nationwide.