Last updated: April 2023

Liability Insurance Vs. Full Coverage


"Liability only" insurance and "full coverage" insurance: these are likely terms you've heard before, but what do they mean and which level of coverage could be right for you? Follow along as we bust some of the most common liability only myths, answer your questions, and give you the insight you need into these two, often confusing terms, so you can make the best decision for you, your family, and your car!

What is liability only insurance?

 Liability only insurance generally refers to the most basic level of coverage that you can purchase for your vehicle. It's one of the most common types of coverage that is legally required (in almost every state) and will help protect you should you injure another person or cause damage to their property while operating your vehicle.

When you hear someone say "liability only," they're actually referring to two types of coverages that go hand in hand, not one:  bodily injury liability and  property damage liability. Together, these coverages help pay for the other person's medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle repair, vehicle replacement, and more after an accident that is primarily your fault.

What does liability insurance cover?

While liability only coverage will help you meet the legal requirements in most states, it may not offer you an adequate amount of coverage in the event of an accident. Why? Liability car insurance alone does not provide coverage for your car or your injuries. Without coverage beyond liability only, you could be faced with big repair bills for the vehicle you depend on every day.

Full Coverage vs Liability Car Insurance

You might hear people talking about liability vs full coverage when shopping for car insurance. However, you won't actually see the term "full coverage" listed when it's time to get a quote. Despite what many people may think, there's no such thing as  full coverage car insurance! When people refer to "full coverage," they're typically describing a policy that includes the state-required bodily injury and property damage liability insurance, together with  comprehensive coverage and  collision coverage.

Collision and comprehensive are both related to damages that occur to your vehicle. Collision coverage can come in handy when your vehicle hits another object or is hit by a hit-and-run driver.

Note: If your state offers and you purchase uninsured motorist property damage, this coverage would also be applicable to a hit and run collision. However, you would only be entitled to file a claim under one of the coverages.

Comprehensive coverage comes into play if your car is stolen or damaged in an event other than a collision (think fire, flood, or rockslide).

But note the fiction in using the phrase "full coverage." Consider that a policy that is described as "full coverage" might not cover:

Is liability only insurance right for me?

There are pros and cons to each type of coverage we've explored. When deciding which could be right for you, it may be helpful to ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do I want to pay for car insurance?A liability only policy with minimum limits tends to be one of the cheapest ways to stay insured and stay legal while out on the road.
  • If my vehicle is damaged or totaled, would I have enough money on hand to repair it or replace it? Remember, your own injuries or property damage are not covered with liability-only insurance.
  • How old is my car? With older vehicles there's a chance your insurance premium could end up being more than the value of your car. While this may tempt some vehicle owners to opt for liability only, it could be a potentially risky scenario if you aren't sure if you have enough cash on hand to replace/repair your vehicle in the event of an accident.

Get liability only car insurance.

Choosing liability only insurance with minimum limits makes getting covered more affordable, but is it right for you? Lean on one of our licensed insurance agents if you need help making the decision. They can help you weigh the pros and cons given your driving record, the age and type of vehicle you drive, and your budget. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT 877-463-4732 or visit a  Direct Auto location near you to learn more and get a quote for liability only insurance today!

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