Collision and comprehensive insurance pay to repair damage to your own vehicle, no matter who caused it. They are different from liability insurance, which pays others' medical bills and property damage if you cause a car accident. Comprehensive insurance is often sold as a package with collision coverage.
Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car from:
- Natural disasters and weather such as hail, wind and earthquakes
- Collisions with animals
- Falling objects
- Cracked or shattered windows
- Acts of terrorism
Collision insurance covers damage to your car if:
- You hit an object such as another car, fence or tree
- You have damage from a hit-and-run
- You hit a pothole
- Your car rolls over
- Another vehicle crashes into yours (or you can make a claim against the other driver's liability insurance)
If your car is totaled or stolen, the most collision or comprehensive coverage will pay is the value of your vehicle minus your deductible amount. You can estimate the current value of your vehicle at car-value sites such as NADAguides.com.
In some cases the amount you owe on a car loan or lease is more than the insurance check you could get for your totaled or stolen vehicle. If you want insurance that will pay off the balance of your loan or lease in those cases, consider gap insurance.
Do you need collision and comprehensive insurance?
Collision and comprehensive are optional, meaning you're not required to purchase them by state law. If you're leasing or financing your car, your leasor or bank may require you to carry collision and comprehensive insurance. But even if you're not required to have collision and comprehensive insurance, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you can afford to pay out-of-pocket to repair your vehicle or buy a new one if your vehicle is totaled.
You might want comprehensive and collision insurance if:
- Your car is less than 10 years old
- You could not afford to buy a new car if yours were stolen or totaled
- You could not afford car repairs if you caused damage to your car
- You live in an area with a high incidence of theft, vandalism or natural disasters
How many people buy collision and comprehensive insurance?
Cost of collision and comprehensive insurance
The map below shows the averages that people pay in each state for collision and comprehensive coverage.
Deductibles and the cost of collision and comprehensive insurance
When you buy collision or comprehensive insurance you'll be asked to choose a deductible. The deductible is the amount subtracted from the insurance check if you make a collision or comprehensive claim. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and file a $5,000 collision claim, the insurance company would pay $4,500.
You can typically choose deductibles between $500 and $2,500, depending on your insurer. If you're looking to get car insurance quotes, choosing a higher deductible will help you save money. Just be sure you can afford to pay out-of-pocket if you need to file a claim.
When to drop collision and comprehensive insurance
If you have an older car, you might consider dropping collision and comprehensive insurance. A good rule of thumb is to look at how much you're paying for these coverage types per year and how much your vehicle is worth. For example, if you're paying $500 per year in collision and comprehensive coverages for a car that's only worth $2,500 and you have a $1,000 deductible, you would receive a check for $1,500.