Collision insurance coverage is a type of auto insurance that covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle if it is damaged in a collision with another vehicle or object, regardless of who is at fault.

Whether it’s a fender bender or a more severe accident, collision coverage can help cover the cost of repairs up to the actual cash value of your vehicle.

Key Highlights
  • Collision insurance covers your vehicle for damage sustained when it hits or is hit by another car or object.
  • If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, your lienholder will require you to carry this coverage and may mandate the specific deductible amount you must select.
  • Not every issue with your vehicle is covered by collision or comprehensive insurance, such as damage caused by wear and tear, freezing or mechanical breakdown.

How does collision coverage work?

Collision coverage is a type of auto insurance that pays for repairs to your vehicle if it’s involved in a collision with another vehicle or an object, such as a tree or a pole. This coverage typically applies regardless of who was at fault for the accident. 

If you have collision coverage and you get into an accident, you will need to pay a deductible before your insurance kicks in to cover the rest of the repair cost. The amount of the deductible can vary depending on your policy. 

Once you pay the deductible, your insurance will cover the remaining cost up to your policy limits. Collision insurance only pays for damage to your own vehicle and does not cover any injuries or damages you may have caused to other people or property.

What does collision insurance cover?

Collision insurance covers your vehicle for damage after a collision with a car or object. It also covers the upset of your vehicle, such as the unintentional rolling or flipping of your vehicle.

Collision coverage allows you to file a claim with your car insurance company and have it pay for damages caused during an auto accident. This coverage will pay out if the other driver is uninsured, underinsured or unknown — or if you are at fault.

What doesn’t collision insurance cover? 

Collision insurance generally does not cover damage caused by incidents other than collisions. This includes theft, vandalism, fire, natural disasters (e.g., floods, hurricanes, etc.) and hitting an animal.

Comprehensive insurance covers your car if it is stolen or damaged by vandalism, flood, fire or animal strikes.

Collision insurance is specifically designed to cover vehicle damage and does not typically provide coverage for medical expenses or personal injuries resulting from an accident. For these types of expenses, you would need to have other types of insurance coverage, such as personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments coverage.

Remember, not every issue with your vehicle is covered by collision or comprehensive coverage; damage caused by wear and tear, freezing or mechanical breakdown is not covered by any portion of an auto insurance policy.

Is collision coverage mandatory?

Collision insurance is not required by state law. Most states require property damage liability, so your insurer will pay (up to your limits) if you damage other people’s vehicles or property. Still, states do not mandate that you carry coverage to pay for damages to your car.

Liability insurance does not cover your vehicle — it only covers the damage you cause others in an at-fault accident. You must carry collision insurance for auto accident damages to your car to be covered by your auto policy if you’re at-fault in an accident.

Do I need collision car insurance?

To determine if you need collision insurance, assess your car’s value and consider your deductible. Collision only pays up to the actual cash value of your vehicle. So, if your car isn’t worth much, is a second vehicle or you can afford to replace it yourself, you don’t need collision coverage.

Tip iconCollision car insurance coverage recommendations

Here are the factors to consider to determine if you need collision car insurance coverage:

  • If your car is less than 10 years old, you should consider buying collision coverage.
  • If your vehicle is older than 10, buy collision insurance if your car is worth $3,000 or more.
  • Buy collision coverage if you can’t afford to replace your vehicle after an accident.

How much collision insurance do I need?

The amount of collision insurance you need depends on a number of factors, including the value of your vehicle, your driving habits, and your budget. In general, it’s a good idea to have enough collision insurance to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle if it’s totaled in an accident. 

How much does collision coverage cost?

According to a rate analysis, the average rate for collision coverage is $687 per year for a full coverage policy with 100/300/100 limits and a $500 deductible.

In the table below, see how states compare when it comes to annual collision car insurance rates. Search for your state to see what you can expect to pay each year for collision insurance, on average.

State Average Annual Premium
Washington, D.C.$852
North Carolina$613
North Dakota$430
New Hampshire$422
New Jersey$642
New Mexico$626
New York$658
Rhode Island$688
South Carolina$452
South Dakota$458
West Virginia$555

What happens if I don’t have collision coverage?

Without collision insurance coverage, you may be left to pay out-of-pocket for your car’s repairs unless someone else is liable for the damages, such as an at-fault driver with property damage liability coverage. Or if you are hit by an uninsured motorist and have uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage, under which you can make a claim.

With a high-value car, you will want full coverage whether you have financed it and consider purchasing gap coverage if you’re still making payments on it.

Suppose you have an older car with a low value (without a lease or loan). In that case, you may not want to pay for collision insurance. If your vehicle is damaged or totaled, the small compensation amount you’d receive from your auto insurance company may not be worth the premium.

Understanding how much your vehicle is worth can help you determine if collision insurance is worth the cost. Find out the current value of your car by using an appraisal tool like Kelley Blue Book.

Frequently asked questions: Collision car insurance

Will collision cover a dent if I repair it myself?

If a collision claim is filed on some light body damage to your car, it’s perfectly acceptable to fix it yourself and have the insurance company pay you directly. The only exception may be if your policy states you must use preferred body shops, but that is rare and only legal in some states.

When dealing with your insurance company, explain that you will fix the damage yourself and want the money paid. It is strongly recommended that you only do this for minor dents — if there is any frame damage, take the car to a body shop.

What is the recommended deductible for collision coverage?

Collision coverage does not come with limits; instead, the most it will pay you is the actual cash value of your car, minus your deductible if it is declared totaled. Experts typically recommend a $500 deductible unless you have substantial savings.

Typically, the range you can choose for your deductible is anywhere from $100 to $1,500 — deductible choices vary according to state laws and insurance company guidelines. Most car owners choose a deductible of between $250 and $1,000.

Generally, the higher the deductible, the less expensive your premium will be. So, a higher deductible can substantially lower the cost of insurance premiums, but you’ll have more to pay out of pocket before your collision benefits kick in.

Resources & Methodology

Methodology commissioned Quadrant Information Systems to field collision insurance rates for 100/300/100 full coverage with a $500 deductible. The rates are based on the profile of a 40-year-old male driving a Honda Accord LX with a clean driving record and good credit score. We have compared 50,00,736 insurance quotes of 27 company groups across 1,467 company groups in the U.S.

– Michelle Megna contributed to this story

Laura Longero

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Laura Longero

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Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

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John McCormick

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John is the editorial director for, and Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

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Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.