Full coverage might cover all costs after an accident, but you could be paying too much.
If you’re in the market for insurance, you’ve probably heard the term “full coverage.” It might surprise you to know this isn’t an insurance industry approved term. However, most insurance agents will understand that you’re actually referring to collision and comprehensive coverage. These coverage options, when paired with your state-required liability coverage makeup what’s known as “full coverage.” While the majority of drivers have “full coverage,” they might not know how expensive it is. Adding "full coverage" with $500 deductibles will more than double your premium. So, let's explore some ways to save with full coverage auto insurance.
Average Annual Premium by Coverage Level
|Coverage Level||Average Annual Premium|
Any time you’ve damaged your car at the result of colliding with something. While there could be hundreds of examples of a collision claim, here are some generalized rules to consider when thinking about collision claims.
With this type of coverage, you have a deductible which is what you pay in the event you file a collision claim. The remaining balance of the claim is paid by your insurance company. Your deductible can range depending on what you want as well as what your insurance company offers but the typical deductibles range from $500-$1000.
Because of the nature of this coverage, fault is irrelevant. What you do have to worry about, however, is a rate increase. Because your insurance company views collision claims very closely to at-fault accidents, they will usually raise your premium if you file one. For most violations and claims, you rate can be affected for 3 years.
Average Increase after at At-Fault Claim
|Increase at 6 months||Increase at 12 months||Increase at 3 Years|
The next facet of “full coverage” insurance is comprehensive. Comprehensive coverage, sometimes known as “other than collision” (OTC), covers non-collision related claims. Like examples of collision claims, the list can be quite immense. Comprehensive coverage covers damages resulting from:
The same principle applies to comprehensive coverage in terms of a deductible but there is some variance with how your premium can be affected by a comprehensive claim. Because many car insurance companies do not see these claims as the result of human error, they tend not to increase your rate as much, if at all.
If you’re speaking with an insurance agent and you’re asking for “full coverage,” they’re going to assume you mean what we’ve previously mentioned: liability coverage plus collision and comprehensive coverage. So, if you’re looking for some additional coverages, you might be left empty-handed. Here is what typically isn’t covered in “full coverage.”
Gap coverage is usually a part of your lease agreement if you’re leasing a vehicle, so make sure your insurance covers this.
This is the big question; how much is it? In order to do this, we created a user profile outlined here and got car insurance rates across the US for state liability only, full coverage with $500 deductibles, and full coverage with $1000 deductibles. Here are our results.
Annual Premium by Coverage Level
|Company||Liability Only||Difference||$500 Deductibles||$1,000 Deductibles|
As you can see, adding your collision and comprehensive coverage is more expensive than your liability coverage. On average, the difference between “full coverage” and your state’s minimum liability limits is about $700. Still, looking at our profile, Nationwide and Farmers were the cheapest companies if you’re in the market for full coverage car insurance.
There’s a couple of ways to look at this question. In our best efforts to do so, you’ll have to do some thinking and some math. Let’s get started.
First and foremost, you absolutely need this coverage if you have a loan or lease on your vehicle. With a leased vehicle, you do not own the vehicle and thus cannot forgo protecting it. Moreover, if you have a loan on a vehicle, you do not fully own it either and thus must ensure it’s protected.
Next, you should consider if you have any particular drivers on your insurance policy that might be more likely to damage the vehicle. Although age does not always equate to skill, if you have especially young drivers, adding physical protection to your vehicle might be a good idea to protect the value of it. Because of their propensity for risky driving, car insurance companies charge nearly twice as much for young drivers than the average individual. So, if you have young drivers on your policy, you might want to think about adding some collision and comprehensive coverage to protect the vehicle.
If you own your vehicle outright, you have more flexibility in terms of adding or not adding full coverage. In this case, you’re going to have to do some math the only way to answer that is to see if the value of full coverage premium is less than the vehicle is worth. Here’s how to tell:
Long story short, the purpose of full coverage protection is to make sure nothing happens to your vehicle. But if your vehicle isn’t worth that much, you might be wasting your money.
If you need full coverage protection but are still looking for ways to save, we have some suggestions for you.
Between the companies surveyed, the average difference in premium between a $500 deductible and a $1000 is about $164 a year. This is because when you raise your deductible, you’re taking away some of the financial responsibility of your insurance company (as they would have to pay you less for any claims payouts).
Average Annual Premium by Coverage Level
|Coverage Level||Average Annual Premium|
As we stated early, unless you have some sort of accident forgiveness coverage on your insurance policy, your company will most likely raise your rates if you file a collision claim. So, the idea behind our suggestion is to only use your full coverage in the event the damage is greater than the deductible + your rate increase over 3 years. Let’s do the math.
If you caused the damages, take it to a mechanic first and see how much it will cost to repair it.
Consult our State of Insurance guide to see how much an at-fault accident (what most car insurance companies would consider a collision claim) raises your premium based on your state. There are some variances between states, so it helps to look up yours specifically. You’ll want to consider that rate increase over 3 years, as that is how long your insurance company will "rate" the claim on your premium.
If the value of the rate increase is $1200 over three years and you have a $500 deductible but it would only cost $900 to fix the vehicle, mathematically it makes more sense not to file a claim.
We were able to find out Nationwide was the cheapest for full coverage auto insurance because we compared with as many companies as possible. While our profile probably doesn’t fit you, you should consider our data to be a starting point and survey as many companies as possible. Do that here with us.
If you’re looking for more information on car insurance and related topics, see our articles here:
Between September and December 2017, The Zebra conducted comprehensive auto insurance pricing analysis using its proprietary quote engine, comprising data from insurance rating platforms and public rate filings. The Zebra examined nearly 53 million rates to explore trends for specific auto insurance rating factors across all United States zip codes, averaged by state, including Washington, DC.
Analysis used a consistent base profile for the insured driver: a 30-year-old single male driving a 2013 Honda Accord EX with a good driving history and coverage limits of $50,000 bodily injury liability per person/$100,000 bodily injury liability per accident/$50,000 property damage liability per accident with a $500 deductible for comprehensive and collision. For coverage level data, optional coverage (that must be rejected in writing) is included where applicable, including uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection.
National property and casualty losses information is from the Insurance Information Institute and the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters report.
For vehicle make and model data, analysis referenced the most popular vehicles in the U.S. by 2016 year-end sales according to Goodcarbadcar.net’s automakers’ data.
Finally, some rate data may vary slightly throughout report based on rounding.
Should I drop full coverage on a 2011 Highlander?
My Toyota Highlander 2011 is fully paid off and it is in excellent shape. I want to drop the full ...
Do I have to have all my vehicles fully covered?
I have 2 cars, a 2006 Ford Taurus and a 2016 Chevy Cruze. My current agent said both need to ...
Keep coverage on truck worth 4500?
My truck is completely paid off and worth only about 4000-4500 should i keep full coverage or liability only?...
Can I suspend insurance on a vehicle I am financing?
My fiance is financing a car that is currently down and unable to be driven. Can he temporarily cancel the ...
It’s not hard to understand why there are so many common car insurance myths: Between the semi-legalese language of policies...
A tree falls on your parked car, torrential rains flood your vehicle, golf-ball sized hail dents the entire body of...
Dozens of major flooding events surface across the U.S. each year – and often in regions (even cities!) that aren’t...
As a licensed insurance agent, I’ve been asked time and again what car insurance covers and why it’s necessary. It...