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IN PLAIN ENGLISH

What is collision coverage in auto insurance?

Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident, such as a fender bender or a collision with a fixed object. Unlike liability insurance, collision coverage is not required by law. It is usually mandated if you’re financing or leasing a vehicle. Collision insurance is subject to a deductible: the amount you're responsible for paying prior to your auto insurance coverage kicking in.

In this article, we’ll outline why collision coverage is useful, how much it costs, and review some frequently asked questions.

 

Collision insurance definition and details

Collision coverage protects your car if it collides with another vehicle or fixed object. This coverage applies regardless of fault. However, filing a collision claim involves paying a deductible and typically raises your future premiums.

What's covered by collision insurance:

  • Property damage to your vehicle sustained in a collision
  • Property damage sustained by hitting a fixed object, such as a tree or wall
  • Damage to your vehicle caused by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver
  • Damage sustained after losing control of your vehicle because of an icy road
  • Damage caused by hitting a pothole

State laws do not require collision coverage. If you’re leasing or financing your car, the dealer might require it. If you own a high-value vehicle, this coverage is highly recommended.


How much does collision coverage cost?

The true cost of collision coverage depends on the value of the insured vehicle and your deductible. Below is the average rate you can expect for a 2014 Honda EX with $500 and $1000 deductibles. View our methodology here. 

Coverage Level
6-Month Premium
$500 Deductible
$267
$1000 Deductible
$213

 

To see a personalized estimate of your collision coverage rates, see quotes from popular insurance companies.

As you can see, the higher your deductible, the cheaper your premium will be. If you want to lower your overall cost for auto insurance, consider raising your deductible.


By how much does a collision claim raise insurance rates?

Filing a collision claim is similar to being involved in an at-fault accident: it can impact your premium in a big way. In 2018, the average collision claim increased rates by $303 over the course of a six-month period. Most insurance companies will charge this additional premium for a period of three to five years after an accident. One collision claim can increase your rates by between $1,818 and $3,030 over the course of the penalty period. Before filing a collision claim, get an estimate to see if the cost of repairs is less than the cost of the rate increase plus the deductible.

Learn more about how to decide whether to file an auto insurance claim


Frequently asked questions: collision coverage

Below are FAQs regarding collision insurance. If you have a more specific question, feel free to ask our licensed insurance agents.


Do I need collision insurance?

You need collision coverage if you’re leasing or financing a vehicle. Because another entity — a bank or car dealership — has a claim to the vehicle, they may mandate collision coverage. If your vehicle is worth more than $4,000, you should consider carrying collision and comprehensive insurance. 

Does collision insurance cover uninsured motorists?

Damage caused by drivers with no insurance — or not enough insurance — may be covered by collision insurance, depending on the specifics of the accident and the insurance company. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is a great policy add-on if you're looking to avoid doubt about your coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage may help reduce your rate increase after a not-at-fault accident. While collision claims do raise insurance costs, uninsured motorist claims typically don't have as large an impact.

How are total loss collision claims compensated?

Unless specifically stated in the insurance policy, total loss collision claims are paid out to cover the cash value of the vehicle. If you total a 2012 Honda Accord, you will be paid the current value of that vehicle, not the amount you originally paid for it. Actual cash value includes depreciation and is the standard method of reimbursement for many insurance providers.

Does collision insurance cover hit-and-run collisions?

You can often claim the losses from hit-and-run accidents under collision coverage, although the claim may raise your rates in the future if you choose to switch to a new company. Your driving record will show a claim was paid out under collision coverage, which normally indicates you were deemed at-fault. Uninsured motorist coverage is a good way to avoid this.

Collision vs. comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive and collision coverage work together to protect your vehicle. However, they cover your car from different threats. Comprehensive covers things occurring outside of the driver's control, including theft, vandalism, natural disasters, and animal-related incidents. Both comprehensive and collision coverages are subject to deductibles and may be required when leasing or financing a vehicle.

Is collision coverage worth it for an old car?

If your car is worth less than $4,000, you may not need collision coverage. Many insurance companies will not write a collision insurance policy for an older vehicle. Refer to the Kelley Blue Book or NADA online listings to assess your car's value before purchasing collision coverage.

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Recent Questions:

Can you file a claim the day after you add collision insurance to your policy?

Technically if you have collision coverage, anything that happens after the fact should be covered. That being said, your insurance company may investigate to make sure the damage didn't actually occurred before you added coverage.
Jun 10, 2017 Atlanta, GA

How long will I be charged for an accident in Michigan?

For Michigan, you will be rated (i.e., charged) for 3 years for this type of claim. In Michigan, an at-fault accident will raise your premium by about 47% according to 2017 data.
Mar 5, 2018 Detroit, Michigan

What part of my policy covers my car if I hit a pothole?

The resulting damage from hitting a pothole is actually considered an "At Fault" accident and would be covered under the collision portion of your policy. The reason this is the case is because insurance companies expect drivers to operate their vehicles safely and watch for hazards in the road to avoid frivolous claims.
Feb 29, 2016 Santa Fe, NM

How can I get coverage after hit and run?

If you have collision coverage, your car will still be covered. You will be responsible for the deductible.
Jan 2, 2019 Spring Hill, FL

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.

  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.

  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.

Ava Lynch
Ava LynchSenior Analyst

Ava worked in the insurance industry as an agent for four-plus years.

Ava currently provides insights and data analysis as one of The Zebra's property and casualty insurance experts. Her work has been featured in publications such as U.S. News & World Report, GasBuddy, Car and Driver, and Yahoo! Finance.