What Is Comprehensive and Collision Car Insurance?

Comprehensive and collision car insurance are forms of coverage that work together to protect your vehicle from most types of damage. Comprehensive car insurance applies to damage that doesn’t involve an accident or collision with another vehicle or object, while collision insurance covers repairs to your own vehicle following an impact with another car, fences, trees or even potholes in the surface of the road.

When you shop for car insurance quotes, these two forms of coverage are optional extras that add costs to your monthly premium, but the additional cost is offset by the increased level of protection. Seventy-eight percent of insured drivers purchase comprehensive coverage, and 72% also purchase collision coverage, according to statistics published by the Insurance Information Institute based on figures from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Your driving habits, vehicle and even your credit score determine the actual costs of your insurance. It’s common, and sometimes necessary, to take out both forms of coverage, and many insurers offer them as a package. For example, Esurance requires you to take out comprehensive insurance before adding collision coverage, although it’s possible to have comprehensive insurance without the collision coverage.

Understanding the differences between these types of car insurance coverage, and how they affect the cost of your insurance policy, is important when it comes time to select the ideal policy to meet your requirements. It can also help you avoid potential loss and disappointment after an accident.

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance pays to repair or replace your car in the event of an accident, such as:

  • Hitting another vehicle
  • Hitting an object
  • Flipping or rolling your vehicle without hitting an object

Collision insurance doesn’t cover a collision with an animal, which falls under comprehensive coverage. It may cover you if your car is damaged in a hit-and-run incident, depending on state law. If the accident involves a collision with another vehicle and you’re found at fault, your liability insurance covers the cost of that vehicle’s repairs.

The main distinction between collision and comprehensive insurance is that collision insurance covers repairs related to accidents, whereas comprehensive insurance covers repairs that aren’t related to accidents.

No states require a driver to take out collision insurance, although it’s often a requirement alongside comprehensive insurance when you lease a vehicle or are making payments on it. The coverage pays for damage to your vehicle as long as the total damages don’t exceed the car’s cash value, which is the original purchase price minus depreciation. If the damages do exceed the cash value, your insurer declares the vehicle a total loss. Selecting a high deductible reduces the annual premium you pay for this type of insurance, but it increases the amount you have to pay in the event of a claim.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance, or “other than collision” coverage, pays for repairs to your vehicle that result from events other than vehicle accidents. Such incidents fall into six main categories:

  • Fire
  • Natural disasters
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Impact from falling objects
  • Collision with an animal

Comprehensive insurance is very similar to collision insurance, with the exception of the type of damage covered. The coverage isn’t mandatory by law, although it’s usually a requirement when you rent or still owe loan payments on a vehicle; it pays for repairs (less your deductible amount) as long as those repairs don’t exceed the vehicle’s cash value. A higher deductible reduces your annual premiums at the expense of a higher amount in the event of a claim.

Comprehensive and Collision Car Insurance Costs

While figures published by AAA in 2016 indicate that the costs to run a motor vehicle have decreased, the cost of insurance has gone up on average by 0.6% to $1,222 annually for low-risk drivers with good driving records. The exact amount you pay depends on your age and gender, the type of vehicle you drive, the distance you travel on an annual basis, the level of coverage, the issuing company and your credit rating. Even your geographical location plays a part, as shown by this excerpt of statistics published by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for average annual expenditures on car insurance in 2013:

StateLiabilityCollisionComprehensive
New Jersey$882.10$363.80$122.37
California$464.53$361.24$97.67
Florida$860.43$242.48$106.83
New York$791.14$354.69$155.65
Texas$502.67$357.37$198.56
Wyoming$323.34$260.15$220.96

Across the United States, the annual averages are $518.49 for liability insurance, $296.99 for collision insurance and $138.82 for comprehensive insurance. New Jersey is the most expensive state, while Wyoming is the least expensive state. Even within these states, actual policy premiums fluctuate considerably.

In Conclusion

Comprehensive insurance and collision insurance add a significant amount to your annual premium, but they cover a wide range of eventualities for your peace of mind. If you own an older car, comprehensive coverage may not be the ideal option, because such insurance doesn’t pay more than the cash value of your vehicle less your deductible. A way to reduce the cost of insurance is to opt for collision coverage only, in addition to your state’s mandatory liability insurance, which could reduce the cost by up to $300. Use an online insurance policy tool to shop around for the right price for you.

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Published August 17, 2016 Updated: August 18, 2016
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