What Is the Difference Between Collision and Comprehensive Insurance?

What is the difference between collision and comprehensive insurance? We’ve got answers. (Hint: it’s all in how your car gets damaged.)
Written by R.E. Fulton
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
Collision and
comprehensive insurance
are two important types of auto insurance that cover damage to your vehicle.
Collision insurance
covers damage caused by a covered car accident, while comprehensive insurance deals with non-collision events.
Car insurance jargon can be mystifying. You might think that any kind of auto insurance should cover damages from a crash—but collision insurance is actually the only type of coverage that allows you to submit a claim for damage to your car from an accident. And so-called comprehensive insurance doesn’t cover everything that can happen to your car: only a specific list of non-collision perils.
Here to demystify comprehensive vs. collision insurance is
Jerry
, the world’s only super app for car owners. Jerry is a licensed insurance broker and the easiest way to find
cheap car insurance
—including essential coverage like collision and comprehensive!

What is the difference between collision and comprehensive insurance?

Collision and comprehensive are different from
liability insurance
—the legal minimum auto insurance coverage required in most states—in that they both cover damage to your vehicle rather than to others.
The difference between these two types of insurance lies in how your vehicle is damaged. If you get in a car accident, hit a telephone pole or pothole, or otherwise damage your car in a collision, you can submit a claim for repairs through your collision insurance. Comprehensive covers non-collision events: think natural disasters, vandalism, theft, and falling objects.
Both collision and comprehensive insurance are optional unless required by the lender financing your vehicle.

Collision insurance: what’s covered, what isn’t?

Let’s take a look at some examples of collision coverage. Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle if:
  • You hit a stationary object (such as a tree or fence) with your car
  • You crash into another vehicle (or they crash into you)
  • Your car rolls over without hitting another vehicle
But collision coverage won’t cover damage to other drivers’ vehicles (you should have
property damage liability
insurance for that). It also won’t pay out for medical expenses for you, your passengers, or others involved in an accident.
Bodily injury liability insurance
covers that for people outside your vehicle, while
personal injury protection (PIP)
and
medical payments (MedPay)
coverage can cover your own medical costs.
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Comprehensive insurance: what’s covered, what isn’t?

Comprehensive insurance usually offers coverage for losses caused by:
  • Fires and natural disasters (including tornadoes and hurricanes)
  • Severe weather, such as hailstorms
  • Falling objects, such as trees
  • Floods
  • Explosions
  • Civil disturbances and riots
  • Vandalism
  • Auto theft
Comprehensive insurance is
“act of God” car insurance
—but it doesn’t cover everything. It won’t cover any damage associated with a collision, and, like collision insurance, it won’t cover medical expenses.

Is it better to have collision or comprehensive car insurance?

Collision and comprehensive insurance usually go hand in hand when insurance companies talk about coverage options, and it’s always a good idea to carry both if you can afford it.
But neither type of coverage is required—so, depending on your financial situation, you may want to choose between collision and comprehensive. So which one is better? Let’s take them one at a time and consider the situations where you might need each.

Why you should get collision coverage

Collision coverage can give you peace of mind if you just bought a new car and want to avoid steep out-of-pocket costs for possible repairs. You might want to purchase collision insurance if:
  • You live in a congested area with a lot of traffic
  • You do a lot of driving, especially at night or during busy times of the day
  • You don’t have enough money to pay for vehicle repairs out of pocket
  • You’re leasing or financing your car and your lender requires you to buy collision insurance
The main reason not to purchase collision coverage is if you own an older vehicle with a very low actual cash value (ACV). Since collision coverage will only cover up to the total value of your car, the potential payout for a collision claim might not be sufficient to cover your repair costs if your vehicle is very old.
You can use Kelley Blue Book’s
online tool
to estimate the value of your vehicle.

Why you should get comprehensive coverage

Comprehensive coverage is a good investment for any driver, but it’s especially worthwhile if:
  • You live in an area with a high risk of natural disasters or severe weather
  • You live in a high-crime area
  • You live in an area with a lot of animal collisions
  • You’re leasing or financing your car and your lender requires you to buy comprehensive insurance
As with collision insurance, the main time when comprehensive coverage isn’t worth the money is when your car’s value (and your matching coverage limit) is too low for a comprehensive claim to cover any vehicle damage.
In general, if you have to choose between collision and comprehensive insurance, you’re better off going with comprehensive, since it covers more types of damage.
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What about “full coverage”?

So-called “full coverage” car insurance typically refers to an insurance policy that includes both collision and comprehensive coverage. Most lenders require anyone financing a new vehicle to carry full coverage insurance for the length of their loan term, but it’s optional coverage once your loan is paid off.

Collision and comprehensive insurance deductibles

One thing that separates collision and comprehensive insurance from standard liability insurance is that both of these types of coverage come with deductibles.
Here’s how it works. Before you can submit a claim through collision or comprehensive insurance, you must pay a certain lump sum before your coverage kicks in. Your deductible amount can vary, but common collision and comprehensive deductibles are $500 and $1,000.
The higher your deductible, the less you’ll pay month-to-month to maintain your coverage. 

How to find cheap collision and comprehensive auto insurance

It’s clear that both collision and comprehensive insurance offer crucial protections for any driver—but the high average cost of these optional coverages holds many drivers back.
It’s true that adding collision and comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy will increase your annual premium. But it’s still possible to find affordable insurance quotes that include comprehensive and collision coverage—with help from
Jerry
.
Jerry believes that car owners shouldn’t have to choose between financial stability and getting the coverage they need—including optional coverages like collision and comprehensive. That’s why we’re partnered with over 55 of the nation’s top insurance providers to help find you quotes tailored to your insurance needs and driver profile in under a minute!
On average, Jerry users save over $800 per year on car insurance—even with full coverage!
“My speeding ticket raised my insurance to $310/month.
Jerry
got me full comprehensive coverage on two vehicles for $144/month through Progressive. I definitely recommend giving them a try.” —Brandon D.
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