AutoInsurance.com
Published: February 3, 2022Last updated: October 18, 2022

Comprehensive vs. Collision Coverage: What’s the Difference?

While neither of these coverages is required legally, if your car is damaged, you’ll want them.

Find The Right Insurance

Let our Perfect Policy Connectors do the work for you!

Auto Insurancephone-icon(855) 909-2474Request a free quote

Many people would be surprised that if you get into an accident and it’s your fault, property damage insurance coverage wouldn’t reimburse you with any money for your car repairs. Similarly, if your car is stolen or vandalized, property damage coverage won’t be of any help. For these events and others, you’ll need collision and comprehensive coverage. Here, we’ll explain which events these coverages cover, their cost, and whether or not you need them.

Comprehensive vs. Collision Coverage

See below for an overview of the differences and similarities between collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.

Type of coverage Collision coverage Comprehensive coverage
Your property damages in accidents you caused Yes No
Potholes Yes No
Rolling cars Yes No
Weather-related incidents such as hail storms, floods, fires, etc. No Yes
Car theft No Yes
Car vandalism No Yes
Should people with old cars get it? No No
Should people with new cars get it? Yes Yes
Should people with broken-down cars get it? No Yes
Should people with cars in storage get it? No Yes
Average monthly cost in 2019 $381.43 $171.87
Required by any state? No No

Key Similarities

  • No state requires either coverage. They are both optional.
  • Both coverages cover damage to your car and not the other party’s car, unlike property damage coverage.
  • Both require deductibles, unlike basic liability coverage.
  • Both are part of full coverage, which includes coverage for the other party’s property damage and bodily injuries as well as your medical payments.
  • Both aren’t necessary for old cars.
  • Both are necessary for new cars.

Key Differences

  • Collision coverage covers damage to your car due to collisions, while comprehensive coverage covers damages caused by events other than collisions.
  • On average, collision coverage costs over 55 percent more than comprehensive coverage.
  • Broken-down cars or cars in storage still require comprehensive coverage, but they don’t require collision coverage.

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details about each type of coverage.

Comprehensive Coverage

  • Definition: Comprehensive coverage is coverage against theft or damages from incidents other than collisions.
  • Is it required? No
  • What it covers: Theft, vandalism, weather-related incidents like floods or hail
  • What it doesn’t cover: Damages from collisions, bodily injuries, damage you caused on purpose, ridesharing, wear and tear, etc.
  • Why it’s important: If your car is stolen or vandalized and you lack comprehensive coverage, you’ll have to pay for costs out of pocket, which could cost thousands.
  • Cost: On average, comprehensive costs $171.87 a month.1

Collision Coverage

  • Definition: Coverage that reimburses you for damages from collisions that were your fault
  • Is it required? No
  • What it covers: At-fault accidents, damages from potholes and rolling cars
  • What it doesn’t cover: Damages from incidents other than collisions, bodily injuries, mechanical wear and tear, and accidents where the other party was at fault
  • Why it’s important: If you get into an at-fault accident and you lack collision coverage, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for your car’s repairs.
  • Cost: The monthly average cost of collision coverage is $381.43.

Deductibles and Limits

If you choose to include collision and/or comprehensive coverage in your policy, you’ll need to choose both deductibles and limits.

Deductibles

How do deductibles work? You’ll select a deductible when you meet with your insurance agent initially. It’s what you’ll pay toward a covered claim before your insurance kicks in.

You’ll choose separate deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverage. On average, a deductible is around $500, and can range from $0 to $2,000. Read our frequently asked questions about deductibles for more information.

Limits

A limit is how much your insurance provider will pay for your damages after you’ve reached your deductible. For collision and comprehensive coverage, the limit is the fair market value of your car, usually. However, you can choose a higher limit if you so please.

Do I Need Comprehensive and Collision Coverage?

Since no state requires either comprehensive or collision coverage, it’s up to you to decide if you want the extra coverage. Here’s how to decide.

Factors to Consider

  • Age of car: If you have an old car, you probably don’t need collision or comprehensive coverage, as the damage may exceed the actual cash value of your car.
  • Car usage: If your car is broken down, in storage, or doesn’t run, you can drop collision coverage, as you won’t be in an accident. However, even cars that don’t run need insurance, as they could be stolen or vandalized, so be sure to maintain comprehensive coverage.2
  • Crime rates: Auto theft and vandalism are more common in cities than rural and suburban areas, so if you live in a high-crime area, make sure you have comprehensive coverage. Similarly, more accidents occur in cities due to increased traffic, so select collision coverage as well.

Light BulbDID YOU KNOW?

From 2019 to 2020, rates of auto theft in the U.S. increased by 10 percent.3

  • Weather: If you live in a place that can experience extreme weather like hail or flooding, make sure you have comprehensive coverage.
  • Accident risk: Those at higher risk of at-fault accidents, like new drivers or people with long commutes, should keep their collision coverage active.
  • Current savings: Think about what damages to your car could cost you if you had to pay out of pocket. Could you afford to pay for these damages if they occurred tomorrow? If not, choose comprehensive and collision coverage with a deductible you could afford to pay ASAP.

Rental Cars

If you already have collision and comprehensive coverage on your owned or leased vehicle, you don’t need to purchase it again if you rent a car. Learn more about rental car coverage.

CheckTIP

Don’t get bamboozled into buying redundant coverage from a rental car company. Car insurance follows the driver, not the car, so if you already have coverage, it’ll apply to any car you drive.

How to Save on Comprehensive and Collision Coverage

Everyone wants to lower car insurance costs. Here’s how to do it.

  • Increase the size of your deductible. A higher deductible means lower premiums. Just make sure you can actually afford to pay it if your car gets damaged tomorrow.
  • Use discounts. Many auto insurance companies offer discounts. From taking a defensive driving course to enrolling in automatic billing, there are dozens of ways to save. You could also get discounts for bundling your insurance with other types of policies, like life insurance.
  • Lower your limits. Lower limits mean lower premiums, but again, keep in mind that you could pay more out of pocket down the road if your policy’s limits don’t cover your damages.
  • Switch companies. Don’t be afraid to get an insurance quote from another company. Sometimes, switching companies can save you money.

Recap

Although they’re not required, in most cases, we recommend getting collision and comprehensive coverage. There are exceptions, of course, like if you have an old car or a car that doesn’t run. Keep reading below to learn more about collision and comprehensive coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still confused? Keep reading below to hear answers to the questions we get the most often.

Is it better to have collision or comprehensive coverage?

Whether it is better to have collision or comprehensive coverage depends on your exact situation. For example, if you have a car that’s broken down or in storage, comprehensive coverage is better. But for any other drivers of new cars, both comprehensive and collision coverage are necessary to pay for your car’s damages.

Do I need both comprehensive and collision insurance?

Unless you have a car that’s old, in storage, or broken down, yes, you need both collision and comprehensive coverage. Otherwise, if you got into an accident and it was your fault or were a victim of auto theft, vandalism, or weather-related damages, you would have to pay out of pocket to get your car repaired or replaced.

In a collision with another vehicle, collision coverage pays for your damages, not the other party’s. You can get reimbursed for up to what your car is worth if you have collision coverage.

Are comprehensive and collision coverage the same as full coverage car insurance?

Comprehensive and collision coverage aren’t the same as full coverage; rather, they’re part of full coverage, which also includes coverages for:

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage of the other party
  • Medical payments coverage, which covers the cost of your injuries

Is hitting a pothole covered by comprehensive or collision coverage?

Collision coverage covers hitting a pothole, as it’s a type of collision. In contrast, comprehensive coverage doesn’t cover any damages from collisions.

Citations

  1. 2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2022).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf

  2. Do you need insurance for a car in storage? Progressive. (2022).
    https://www.progressive.com/answers/insurance-car-in-storage/

  3. U.S.: reported motor vehicle theft rate 1990-2020. Statista. (2021, Sep 29).
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/191216/reported-motor-vehicle-theft-rate-in-the-us-since-1990/