What's the Difference Between Comprehensive and Collision?

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A lot of jargon gets thrown around in the world of car insurance. Two of the best examples are the words "comprehensive" and "collision." What do they mean? You're not the only driver to wonder.

Every state in the U.S. except New Hampshire requires drivers to buy liability insurance. Liability coverage helps pay for damages you cause to others. Collision and comprehensive coverage protect you for damages to your car. Collision and comprehensive coverages are optional, although about four of every five drivers buy them, often because the loan or lease agreement for your car demands it. Collision and comprehensive cover different scenarios, but because they are complimentary, they are usually purchased together. So people describe a policy that includes liability and comprehensive and collision as "full coverage"; but be wary of that phrase because it is somewhat misleading.

Knowing the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage can help you pick the right amount of coverage and help you save money. Follow along as we compare comprehensive and collision coverage.

What is comprehensive coverage?

Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car that results from something other than a collision (that's why it is also sometimes called "Other than Collision Coverage"). If your car is vandalized, stolen, or damaged by a natural disaster, contact with an animal, or by any other covered incident, your comprehensive coverage will help pay for the repairs or replacement.

Here are some specific scenarios where comprehensive coverage would likely pay for your vehicle's repairs or replacement:

  • Damage caused by an earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado or volcanic eruptions. For instance, the damage would be covered if your car is heavily damaged by floodwater.
  • Damage caused by a fire, such as a wildfire that roars through your neighborhood.
  • Damage from running into an animal, such as a deer that's crossing a road.
  • Damage resulting from a riot.
  • Damage caused by vandals.
  • Damage triggered by fallen objects such as hail or tree branches. For instance, the damage would be covered if a tree falls on your car during a thunderstorm.
  • Theft of your car or parts of your car. For example, you'd be covered if a thief steals your car's airbags.
  • A broken windshield caused, for instance, by a rock that strikes your car while you're driving.

What is collision coverage?

Collision coverage pays for damage to your car if you run into or get hit by something or someone, or if your vehicle overturns. It also pays for damage resulting from hitting a pothole or having your car damaged by a hit-and-run driver.

Here are some specific scenarios where collision coverage would most likely pay the repairs or replacement of your vehicle:

  • Damage to your car caused by colliding with an object, such as a mailbox or guardrail. For instance, you'd be covered if your car slides on a slick road during a snowstorm and you crash into a telephone pole.
  • Damage to your car resulting from hitting a pothole.
  • Damage to your car caused when it flips over while it's on the road. For example, your car flips onto its side after you lose control of it on a curve.
  • Damage to your car caused by a hit-and-run driver.

How does payment work?

With both comprehensive and collision coverage, you'll be reimbursed for repair expenses after subtracting the deductible, which is money that comes out of your pocket. A deductible generally ranges from $100 to $1,500. A higher deductible is recommended if you're trying to cut costs for your car insurance.

Are comprehensive and collision required in my state?

No state requires either comprehensive or collision insurance. However, many lenders, such as banks and credit unions, require you to buy comprehensive and collision coverage if you take out an auto loan or lease to pay for your car.

If you don't owe a lender any money for your car and it's an older model vehicle, then you might decide against comprehensive and collision to help lower your car insurance costs. Talk to a Direct Auto Insurance agent about your situation.

How much do comprehensive and collision coverage cost?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, comprehensive coverage costs a little under 50 percent less than collision coverage does. The monthly average is about $11 for comprehensive coverage and about $24 for collision coverage.

The price of comprehensive and collision primarily depends on the value of your car, but your driving history, gender, age, location, and work can also play a role.

Direct Auto Insurance is here to help you choose the right coverage for your needs, whether that includes comprehensive and collision, or just standard liability coverage. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (877-463-4732), or come into a Direct Auto location near you today to learn more. Our friendly agents can help explain the difference between comprehensive and collision.

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