Comprehensive and collision coverage are two different types of car insurance. Comprehensive coverage is a type of insurance that protects your car from things other than an accident, like falling objects and vandalism. Collision coverage is a different type of insurance that covers damage to your own vehicle due to a collision with another car or object.
People often mistakenly think “comprehensive and collision coverage” refers to a single type of car insurance coverage because collision and comprehensive are often combined to protect a vehicle against most forms of damage, as part of so-called “full coverage.” But they are distinct types of coverage, differing primarily in terms of the types of damage that they apply to.
Overview of Comprehensive vs Collision Insurance
- Comprehensive insurance applies when your car does not actually collide with another vehicle or object. For example, it may cover damage caused by a fire, natural disaster, falling object or vandalism.
- Collision insurance covers repairs to your own car when you hit another vehicle, an object like a tree or fence, or a road hazard like a guardrail.
- Neither comprehensive nor collision insurance covers damage to someone else’s vehicle — liability insurance will protect you against those costs.
- The cost of comprehensive and collision insurance is determined largely by the value of your car.
- If you are purchasing collision coverage, your insurer might require you to purchase comprehensive insurance as well. But you can usually purchase comprehensive insurance by itself.
Comprehensive vs. Collision Insurance: Similarities and Differences
Although drivers will make collision and comprehensive insurance claims under different circumstances, they are otherwise very similar. Let’s review the main similarities and differences.
- Both comprehensive and collision insurance cover damage to your own vehicle.
- You don’t have to choose a coverage limit. The coverage limit is the actual cash value of your car.
- When your car is damaged, both generally have a deductible you will be responsible for. Your insurance company will offer a range of deductibles for comprehensive and collision policies. Choosing a higher deductible will lower the cost of your premiums, but with a higher deductible, you will be responsible for more of the cost if you file a claim.
- Insurance companies typically offer comprehensive and collision packaged together, although they can also be bought separately. Some insurance providers will require the purchase of comprehensive coverage before you can buy collision coverage, but not vice versa.
- Both are optional under state laws. However, if your car is financed, your lender or leasing company will likely require you to purchase both types of coverage.
- The main difference between comprehensive and collision insurance is the damage they cover. A good rule of thumb to remember is that collision covers drivers when they are in an accident with another vehicle or they hit an object, and comprehensive covers drivers against events that are outside of their or another driver’s control.
- Collision coverage premiums are more expensive, costing as much as three times more than comprehensive coverage.
What Do Comprehensive and Collision Insurance Cover?
In order to get a better handle on these two forms of coverage, let’s consider two examples:
Scenario 1 - Collision Coverage
Imagine you are driving along a rural road, and you see a deer warning sign. Sure enough, a deer darts out and hits your car.
Because the collision was not caused by a driver’s action, the damage to your car will be covered by a comprehensive policy.
Scenario 2 - Comprehensive Coverage
Now, picture that same road and that same deer, only this time the deer escapes and instead causes an accident between two cars.
In this example, the car in front of you slams on its brakes to avoid the deer, but you are following too closely to stop in time, and you rear-end the other car. Collision coverage will likely pay to repair your car in this case.
How Much Will Comprehensive and Collision Insurance Cost?
A major factor in the price of both comprehensive and collision coverage is the value of your car. The more your insurer might have to pay if your car is totaled, the more risk the insurer has and, therefore, the more you will pay in premiums.
The table below breaks down examples of auto insurance premiums for three different cars. The sample policies include liability insurance, comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. The WalletHub comparison tool can help you determine what you will are likely to pay for each form of coverage for your own car.
Cost of Comprehensive Coverage vs Collision Coverage
|Vehicle Value||Total Monthly Premium||Comprehensive
|Comprehensive Share of Total Premium||Collision Monthly Premium||Collision Share of Total Premium|
Note: Premium figures assume comprehensive and collision coverage each with a $1,000 deductible, a bodily injury liability policy with a limit of $50,000 per injured person and a maximum payout of $100,000 per accident, as well as a property damage liability limit of $50,000.
Factors to Consider Before Buying Comprehensive and Collision Insurance
- Your financial situation.
If your car is suddenly damage or totaled, could you afford to repair or replace it? If the answer is no, you should get collision and comprehensive coverage to avoid a financial disaster.
- The value of your car.
A good rule of thumb is that if the cost of comprehensive or collision coverage exceeds 10% of your vehicle’s value, you should consider dropping them. After all, if your car is totaled, collision and comprehensive coverage will only pay you the amount that it’s worth at the time of the damage.
- Your driving habits.
Do you have a long commute every day, or do you only use your car occasionally? The more you drive, the higher risk you are for being in an accident, which means you’re more likely to need collision insurance.
- Where you live.
Even if you don’t drive very often, you should consider buying comprehensive coverage if your area has a high crime rate or is prone to natural disasters such as wildfires and floods.