When purchasing auto insurance, you might find yourself wondering if you should opt for comprehensive and collision coverage. Unlike liability coverage, which almost every state requires by law, these two types of coverage are optional. They’re both included in a full coverage policy, but they aren’t the same. It’s important to know their differences before you add them to your policy. Check out this detailed comprehensive vs. collision insurance comparison so you can make a better informed decision.
What Is Comprehensive Insurance?
Comprehensive insurance is an auto insurance coverage that takes care of the cost of repairing or replacing your car if it’s damaged in a non-collision incident. Sometimes referred to as an “act of God,” a non-collision incident can be anything from a fire to a tree branch falling on your vehicle. Because you don’t have control over when or how an “act of God” occurs, you’ll be eligible to file a claim under your comprehensive policy. This type of coverage also pays for losses resulting from theft and vandalism. The following is a list of events comprehensive insurance typically covers:
- Natural disasters, such as floods, hailstorms, hurricanes, tornados, or earthquakes
- Fire, explosions, or civil commotions
- Acts of terrorism
- Theft or vandalism
- Falling objects
- Damage from impact with animals, such as deer, moose, and cattle
- Broken or shattered windshield or windows
Bear in mind that comprehensive insurance commonly requires a deductible. An insurance deductible is the amount you must pay out of your own pocket before your coverage kicks in. Suppose you opt for a $500 deductible. If the cost of repairing your damaged vehicle is $900, you’ll be responsible for paying $500, and your insurance provider will pay the remaining $400. Choosing a higher deductible will result in a lower premium, but it means you’ll have to pay more toward your claim.
What Are the Benefits of Comprehensive Insurance?
The main benefit of comprehensive insurance is it can help you avoid a big financial loss in the event your vehicle is stolen or badly damaged due to a covered event. If you own a new vehicle and don’t have comprehensive insurance, you may lose tens of thousands of dollars if a car thief drives away with it. By adding comprehensive coverage to your policy, you’ll have absolute peace of mind whenever you’re away from your vehicle.
However, note that comprehensive insurance might not be beneficial if your vehicle sustains only minor damage, such as a small dent or a cracked bumper. This is because of your deductible. For example, if someone keys your vehicle and the repair costs $500, your comprehensive coverage won’t pay anything if you have a $1,000 deductible.
What Is Collision Insurance?
Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle that results from a collision with another vehicle or object. Unlike liability insurance, this coverage protects you even if you’re the at-fault party in an accident. Below is a list of accident types covered under a collision policy:
- You crash into another vehicle or another vehicle crashes into you
- You drive into a pothole or ditch
- You collide with a stationary object, such as a pole, wall, fence, streetlight, or tree
- Your vehicle rolls over
- Your car is damaged in a hit-and-run accident, but you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage
Similar to comprehensive coverage, collision insurance comes with a deductible. You’ll be able to choose your deductible amount when you purchase your auto insurance policy.
What Are the Benefits of Collision Insurance?
An accident can happen when you least expect it. Even if you’re a careful driver, another motorist can make a mistake that results in severe damage to your vehicle. If you have collision insurance, you don’t need to worry about having to pay for an expensive car repair following an accident.
Another advantage of carrying collision coverage is you can usually initiate the process of repairing your vehicle soon after the accident. If you aren’t the at-fault party and you’re counting on the other motorist’s liability insurance to pay for the damage, you might have to wait for the insurers to determine who caused the crash. If you make a collision claim, you’ll generally be reimbursed if the at-fault driver is later found to be responsible for your damages.
In addition, using your collision policy after an accident means you’ll be only dealing with your own insurance provider instead of another insurer that has less incentive to pay for your losses. This can result in a smoother and quicker claims process. Also, more often than not, collision coverage extends to a rental car, which can spare you from having to purchase rental car insurance.
Comprehensive vs. Collision Insurance: What Is the Difference?
The best way to distinguish comprehensive and collision insurance from one another is to look at the driver’s control over the incident. Comprehensive insurance generally covers events that are out of your control, whereas collision coverage typically protects you in incidents you have at least some control over. Although they’re different, these two types of coverage work hand in hand to pay for most types of damage to your vehicle.
Do You Need Comprehensive and Collision Insurance?
Industry experts highly recommend you purchase comprehensive and collision insurance, as these policies can get you off the hook for costly vehicle damage. They’re especially beneficial if you’re driving a new or expensive vehicle. On the other hand, if your car is more than 10 years old or has a market value of less than $3,000, it might make more sense to skip these coverages.
Although comprehensive and collision coverage aren’t mandatory in any state, your lender might require you to buy them as part of your auto financing agreement. Once you pay off your auto loan, you have the freedom to remove them from your policy.
Getting comprehensive and collision insurance can cause your auto insurance premium to go up considerably. However, these coverages are worth the extra money as they can help prevent a financial disaster in the event your vehicle is badly damaged.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.