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Full coverage is a great way to keep your vehicle safe — but you could be paying too much.
If you’re in the market for insurance, you’ve probably heard the term “full coverage.” While this isn't officially an insurance industry-approved term, most insurance agents use "full coverage" to refer to the combination of collision and comprehensive coverages. These insurance options, when paired with state-mandated liability coverage, comprise “full coverage.”
An upgrade to "full coverage" — with $500 collision and comprehensive deductibles — can double your monthly premium. Let's examine some ways to find affordable full coverage auto insurance.
"Full coverage” comprises of comprehensive and collision coverage. Unlike liability coverage, these coverages add physical protection to your vehicle. Here’s what is covered by full coverage auto insurance:
Collision coverage provides insurance against damages sustained by a vehicle in a collision. Below are common scenarios in which collision claims are filed:
Collision coverage includes a deductible, which the client pays when filing a collision claim. The remaining balance of the claim is covered by the insurance company. The amount of the deductible is variable, with most falling between $500 and $1,000.
As far as collision coverage is concerned, fault is irrelevant. However, filing a collision claim can result in a rate increase, regardless of fault. Because insurance companies consider collision claims and at-fault accidents as very similar events, they tend to raise drivers' premiums after a collision claim of any kind. This rate penalty can last as long as three years.
|6-Month Increase||12-Month Increase||36-Month Increase|
Another facet of full coverage car insurance is comprehensive. Comprehensive coverage, sometimes known as “other than collision” (OTC), covers non-collision related claims. The list of qualifying circumstances is lengthy. Comprehensive coverage covers damages resulting from:
Deductibles also apply to comprehensive coverage. However, because many auto insurance companies don't see comprehensive claims as the result of driver error, rates typically don't undergo a hike after a comprehensive claim.
Insurance agents commonly refer to the combination of collision, comprehensive, and liability coverages as “full coverage." If you’re looking for additional coverage, you might be left empty-handed. Here are events not typically covered by full coverage auto insurance:
Gap coverage could be a part of your lease agreement if you’re leasing a vehicle. Make sure your insurance covers this.
In order to do estimate the cost of full coverage auto insurance, we created a sample user profile and gathered car insurance rates from across the U.S. for state minimum liability-only, full coverage with a $500 deductible, and full coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
|Company||State Minimum Liability Only||Difference||$500 Deductible||$1,000 Deductible|
Adding collision and comprehensive coverage is more expensive than carrying only the state minimum amount of liability coverage. On average, the difference between “full coverage” and the typical state’s minimum liability insurance is more than $1,200 per year. USAA and Liberty Mutual are the best companies for cheap full coverage car insurance.
You need full coverage if you have a loaned or leased vehicle. With a lease, you do not own the vehicle and don't have the option of forgoing full protection. If you have a loan on a vehicle, you must ensure it’s protected to the lender's specifications.
Consider if you have drivers included on your insurance policy that might be considered more likely to damage the vehicle. Although age does not always equate to driving skill, young drivers can sometimes necessitate the addition of collision coverage. Because of young drivers' propensity for risky driving, car insurance companies charge them nearly twice as much as the average client.
Owning your vehicle outright offers drivers more flexibility in which coverage options they elect. Here’s how to tell whether full coverage auto insurance is worth the extra investment:
Long story short, full coverage protection is intended to protect your car. If your vehicle isn’t worth that much, you might be wasting your money.
If you need full protection but are still looking for ways to save, we have some suggestions.
The average difference in annual premium between a $500 deductible and a $1,000 deductible is about $187. When you raise your deductible, you’re taking some of the financial burden off of the insurance company — as they would have to pay less in the event of a claim payout. The caveat is that you'd have to make up for that by paying a higher deductible before your insurer covers the rest.
|Coverage Level||Average Annual Premium|
Unless you have accident forgiveness coverage, your insurance company will most likely raise your rates if you file a collision claim. Only use your full coverage in the event the damage is greater than the deductible plus your rate increase over three years.
Need help deciding whether to file a claim or not? See more info here for some more tips.
Get an estimate for the damages.
If you caused the damages, take it to a mechanic first and see how much it will cost to repair it.
Estimate your rate increase.
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. State-by-state pricing variability exists, so it helps to look up your location specifically. You’ll want to consider that rate increase over the course of three years.
Which is more expensive?
If the value of the rate increase is $1,200 over three years and you have a $500 deductible but it would only cost $900 to fix the vehicle, it makes sense to forgo a claim.
USAA provides the cheapest full coverage auto insurance, based on our data. While our profile may not fit your driving profile specifically, consider our data a starting point before comparing full coverage insurance quotes from as many companies as possible.
If you’re looking for more information on car insurance and related topics, see our articles:
Learn more about The Zebra's rate-gathering methodology.