Comprehensive vs. Collision Insurance Coverage

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Comprehensive vs. collision coverage

Even if you’re not very familiar with car insurance, you’ve probably heard of collision or comprehensive coverage. But you might not know what it means. Before we go into deeper detail, all you have to know is that comprehensive and collision insurance coverage offer physical protection to your vehicle. The finer details of this, including how much it can cost and if you’re required to have it, are coming up next.

Please note; if you’re looking for an in-depth review of what these coverages are rather than the difference between them, see our guide to comprehensive insurance or our guide to collision coverage.

Comprehensive vs. collision coverage
  1. What’s the difference between these coverages?
  2. Comprehensive vs. collision claim
  3. How much do they cost?
  4. Additional resources

What’s the difference between these coverages?

As we stated, comprehensive and collision only offer physical coverage to your vehicle. Where this physical coverage differs concerns what caused the damage to your vehicle. Collision coverage refers to damage caused by an actual collision — you collide with another car, a wall, or a pole. Comprehensive, on the other hand, refers to things that generally happen outside of your control. Things like theft, vandalism, and animal-related damage. Here’s a handy breakdown:

Comprehensive vs Collision Insurance Coverage

Colliding with a fixed objectColliding with an animal
At-Fault accidentsTheft
Crashing your vehicle due to ice/weather related eventsWeather-related damage (flood or hail damage)
Hit and RunsVandalism

These coverages are usually paired with your liability insurance coverage, which provides protection against damage you do to other people (bodily injury) or their property (property damage).

Do I have to have both comprehensive and collision coverage?

Because of the nature of driving, there are more collision claims than comprehensive. Thus, you might want an insurance coverage policy that only includes collision protection. However, it’s very unlikely that you will be able to receive that. You might, however, be able to have different deductibles for your collision versus comprehensive insurance coverage. Your deductible is what you pay in the event you file a collision or comprehensive claim. The remainder is covered by your insurance company. This would vary by company, however.

Do you have to have either comprehensive or collision coverage?

The only insurance coverage that you’re required to have by law is your liability insurance (sometimes uninsured motorist or personal injury protection as well if your state requires). However, if you’re leasing or financing a vehicle, you’re more than likely required to insure the vehicle with comprehensive and collision coverage.

Even if you own the vehicle outright, you still might want this coverage. If you’re planning on selling your vehicle in the future or using it as collateral for loan, you’re going to want to make sure the vehicle is protected to ensure it’s value.

While we stated the major difference between comprehensive and collision, there’s another aspect to consider: how using them affects your car insurance coverage premium.

Comprehensive vs Collision Claim

This is one of the bigger differences between comprehensive and collision coverage. Because of what it is used to cover against, a collision claim is often seen as an "at-fault accident". Meaning, it will raise your rate. A comprehensive claim, on the other hand, is often seen as outside the control of the driver and thus usually doesn’t affect your premium as much.

Comprehensive vs Collision Claims: Annual Rate Increase

Collision ClaimComprehensive Claim

As you can see, the difference between a collision claim and a comprehensive claim is about $589 a year.

How much do they cost?

On average, your comprehensive and collision coverage takes up about half of your insurance coverage premium. You can save some premium by raising your deductibles, as your deductibles are inversely related to your premium.

Average Annual Cost of Insurance Coverage

Coverage LevelAverage Annual Premium
Liability Only$672
$500 Deductible$1,427
$1,000 Deductible$1,268

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Additional resources

Comprehensive and collision coverage are your two best and most common options for protection to your vehicle. If you’re looking for more information regarding comprehensive and collision coverage or insurance in general, see our additional articles.

Liability insurance: what is it and do you need it?

Comprehensive insurance coverage

Collision insurance coverage

All you need to know about a $500 deductible

All you need to know about a $1,000 deductible

Uninsured motorist coverage: what you need to know

Recent Questions:

Comprehensive vs. Collision Insurance Coverage

Someone attempted to steal my neighbor's vehicle and wrecked my van, how do I handle insurance?

You would not be at fault in this case. In cases like this, it's best to get all the documentation you can, like a police report. If you have comprehensive and collision, you should be able to get your car fixed.

Should I file a claim after hitting a tire in the road?

Thank you for the question. I would avoid filing a claim unless the damage is severe.

Will my rates go up if I file a claim for a vandalized windshield?

A comprehensive claim can affect your insurance rating. However, most carriers are alright with allowing one such claim per three year period.

How can I get points off my license?

Hello, Unfortunately, there is no way to instantly remove demerit points from your license since there was a collision. In a case where an animal is involved, insurers typically rule it to be safer to hit the animal than to swerve trying to miss it.