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Comprehensive vs. collision coverage comparison

Even if you’re not very familiar with car insurance, you may have heard of collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. These coverage types offer physical protection for your vehicle.

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.

Key takeaways

  • Comprehensive and collision coverages are optional for owned and fully paid-off vehicles
  • These coverages, if included, cost more in premiums than minimum coverage insurance. 
  • Each coverage is subject to a deductible.

What’s the difference between comprehensive and collision insurance?

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:

COMPARISON: COLLISION VS. COMPREHENSIVE CAR INSURANCE
Collision Comprehensive
Colliding with a fixed object Colliding with an animal
At-Fault accidents Theft
Weather-related collision Weather-related damage (flood or hail damage)
Hit-and-run collision Vandalism

These coverages may be paired with liability insurance coverage, which provides protection for damage you do to others (bodily injury) or their property (property damage).


The benefits of comprehensive and collision

Carrying both comprehensive and collision coverage on your car insurance policy is a combination often referred to as “full coverage”. These protections provide peace of mind for nearly every possible loss your vehicle could endure. Comprehensive coverage is a catch-all solution for many possible damages, so you can rest assured you will be reimbursed if your car is severely damaged or stolen.

With collision insurance, you don’t have to worry about high repair costs after an accident, as you will only be responsible for the deductible you set, which is — in cases of serious damage— often going to be less than the cost of the repairs. Additionally, the collision claims process offers a quicker turnaround time for repairs; you can start the repairs sooner, rather than counting on the other driver’s insurance company to first work out who is at fault. Still, if you file the claim and it is later determined that the other driver’s liability coverage will pay, you are likely to be reimbursed automatically.

All in all, comprehensive and collision coverage offer peace of mind for drivers. While premiums with these protections are generally higher than liability-only coverage, you can save money on costly repairs if you do experience a covered loss.


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Comprehensive claims vs. collision claims: which cost more?

One of the primary differences between comprehensive and collision coverage is the difference in premium costs resulting from a claim. A collision claim is often seen as an "at-fault accident," leading to substantial insurance rate increases moving forward. A comprehensive claim, on the other hand, is often seen as outside the control of the driver and doesn’t impact premiums much, if at all.

COMPREHENSIVE VS. COLLISION CLAIMS — AVERAGE ANNUAL RATE INCREASES
Collision Claim Comprehensive Claim
+$687 +$98

The difference between a collision claim and a comprehensive claim is about $589 a year.


How much do comprehensive and collision insurance 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 INSURANCE COSTS AT POPULAR DEDUCTIBLE LEVELS
Coverage Level Average Annual Premium
Liability-only $672
$500 deductible $1,427
$1,000 deductible $1,268

Comprehensive and collision deductibles

Both coverages are subject to a deductible. You are at liberty to select this amount at the start of your policy, though the typical range is between $500 and $1,500. The higher deductible you set, the lower your premiums will be. Keep in mind, though, this does mean that in the event of a claim, you are responsible for paying the deductible amount, so with a higher deductible you are sacrificing lower overall premiums for the possibility of paying more for a claim before insurance coverage kicks in.

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When can I drop comprehensive and collision?

As stated, comprehensive and collision coverage are almost always required by lenders for drivers who are leasing or financing their vehicles. Drivers such as these can only drop this coverage once the vehicle is fully owned and paid off. At that point, you may choose to drop these protections.

For drivers of fully-owned vehicles, there is no correct method to determine when to drop comprehensive and collision. However, a good rule of thumb to follow is when the value of your car and its replacement parts become close to the price of your premiums and deductibles.


FAQs

Do I need both comprehensive and collision coverage? Chevron down icon
Collision claims are more common than comprehensive claims. But it's difficult to find an insurance policy that includes only collision coverage, bypassing comprehensive coverage. You might, however, be able to set different deductibles for collision coverage and comprehensive insurance coverage. A deductible is what you pay in the event you file a collision or comprehensive claim. The remainder is covered by your insurance company.
When do I need comprehensive or collision coverage? Chevron down icon
The only insurance coverage drivers are required to maintain is liability insurance (sometimes uninsured motorist or personal injury protection as well, depending on location). If you’re leasing or financing a vehicle, you might be required to insure the vehicle with both comprehensive and collision coverage. Even if you own the vehicle outright, you might want this coverage. If you’re planning on selling your vehicle in the future — or using it as collateral for loan — you should make sure the vehicle is protected to retain its value.
How much is comprehensive and collision coverage? Chevron down icon
Insurance rates depend on many factors, including vehicle type, driving history and deductible amounts. Collision coverage typically costs about the same as a liability-only policy, so adding this coverage would likely double your premium. Comprehensive insurance raises premiums by about 10%. The best way to get the best value for your car insurance needs is by shopping around at each renewal cycle.

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RECENT QUESTIONS

Does hitting a fixed object cause my premium to rise?

This type of claim would be considered a collision claim, which usually causes your premium to rise. In New Jersey, at-fault collision claims caused premiums to rise by an average of $1200.
Dec 15, 2017 Dumont, New Jersey

I have two vehicles, am I required by law to carry collision insurance on both vehicles?

Legally you are only required to have state minimum liability coverage on either of your cars. If you are financing either car, your finance company will most likely require you to have comprehensive and collision coverage on the car.
Oct 4, 2018 Yorktown, VA

Should I just file a claim or pay for damages?

Because of the amount of damages and your deductible, I do not recommend filing a claim. Considering you already have what sounds like an at-fault accident on your insurance record, another one where the savings is only $385 probably isn't financially worth it.
Feb 25, 2018 Seattle, Washington

If I have comprehensive and collision insurance through my dealership, am I still legal?

Even though car insurance is required by the state and also by your lender, the state and your lender require two different types of coverage. Your lender wants you to have insurance to make sure the vehicle will be fixed or paid for if it is damaged or totaled while you're paying off the auto loan; this is called comprehensive and collision coverage.
Jul 17, 2017 Warren, MI

Renata Balasco photo
Renata BalascoAssociate Content Strategist

Renata is a licensed insurance professional and content strategist responsible for creating home and auto insurance guides for The Zebra.

Renata's background in technical writing and her experience working in the insurance industry informs her work. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications.

Renata's work has been cited by Car and Driver

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.

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  • 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.