Collision vs. Comprehensive Car Insurance

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Collision and comprehensive insurance are two types of auto insurance coverages. They are both legally optional and pay for the cost of damage to your car in different situations.

Collision coverage pays for damage to your car that occurs in a crash, while comprehensive coverage pays for damage due to (almost) everything else. They work hand in hand to repair or replace most types of damage to your car. However, they don't pay for damage to other vehicles, or for injuries. It's important to know the difference and make sure you're adequately covered.

What is comprehensive insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance pays for damages caused by something besides your car driving into something else.

These are sometimes referred to as "acts of God." For example, an "act of God" can include things like damage due to a tree branch falling on your car. Since you have no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car, this kind of accident would be covered under your comprehensive policy.

Comprehensive coverage also pays for theft. If your car is stolen, comprehensive covers the cost to replace your car or to repair any damage if it's recovered.

Types of damages covered by comprehensive auto insurance

  • Natural disasters, including storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and hailstorms
  • Fire, civil commotions and explosions
  • Vandalism and theft
  • Damage from impacts with animals, such as a deer
  • Broken or shattered windows or windshield
  • Falling objects
  • Acts of terrorism

Comprehensive insurance is usually subject to a deductible. This is the amount you have to pay before your coverage kicks in. For example, say you have a $500 deductible. If your car is damaged in a hailstorm and the damage costs $900 to repair, you would be responsible for $500 and your insurer would cover the remaining $400.

What are the benefits of comprehensive coverage?

The main benefit of comprehensive coverage is that it can provide peace of mind while you're away from your car. Carrying comprehensive coverage ensures that you'll be reimbursed if your car is severely damaged or stolen.

However, keep in mind that because of your deductible, comprehensive usually isn't beneficial for minor damage, like a cracked bumper or minor vandalism. For instance, if a vandal keys your car and the repair costs $600, your comprehensive policy with a $1,000 deductible won't pay for any of the repairs.

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What is collision insurance?

Collision coverage pays for damage to your car that happens as a result of a crash.

This includes a collision with another vehicle or a single-vehicle crash, such as if you slide on ice into a tree.

Types of damage covered by collision auto insurance

  • You crash into another car, or another car crashes into you while you're parked.
  • You drive into a stationary object, such as a tree, streetlight or pole.
  • You crash into a ditch or a pothole.
  • Your car flips over.
  • A hit-and-run, if you can't use uninsured motorist coverage.

Like comprehensive insurance, collision coverage has a deductible: the amount you have to pay before your insurance will cover additional losses. You'll set this amount when you buy your policy. A higher deductible results in more affordable monthly premiums.

What are the benefits of collision insurance?

The main benefit of collision insurance is that you won't have to pay for high repair costs after an accident, if you would be unable to afford repair costs or if you simply value peace of mind.

Collision insurance will also pay for damage to your car if you're in a crash, but can't find the other driver — whether you're in a hit and run, or if the other driver simply stops responding to your calls after the crash occurs.

If you carry collision insurance, you can typically initiate the repair process very soon after a crash. If you're counting on the other driver's liability coverage to pay for the damage, you may need to wait for the insurance companies to determine who was at fault. If you file a collision claim and it's later determined that the other driver's liability coverage should pay, you'll generally be reimbursed automatically.

Another benefit is that you only deal with your own insurance company, rather than another insurer with less incentive to pay for your claim. Collision insurance can also be used toward a rental car in most cases, which can spare you from having to buy rental car insurance.

When should you drop comprehensive and collision insurance?

While there is no perfect formula or rule on when to drop comprehensive and collision insurance, you should generally drop them once the value of your car and its replacement parts approaches the cost of your premiums and deductible.

For example, if the annual cost of your comprehensive and collision insurance is $400 and your deductible is $600, you could save money by dropping them if your car is worth $1,000 or less.

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What is the difference between collision vs. comprehensive?

The key difference between collision versus comprehensive coverage is the driver's control over the car accident.

  • Collision insurance typically covers events within a motorist's control, or when another vehicle collides with your car.
  • Comprehensive coverage generally falls under "acts of God or nature," which are typically out of your control when driving. These can include such events as a spooked deer, a heavy hailstorm or a carjacking.

Let's use the aftermath of a hurricane as an example to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two events that might have happened:

  1. A heavy tree branch fell on your car, or
  2. You swerved to avoid a falling tree branch and wound up crashing into a tree.

In the first event, you had no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and swerved into the tree, which makes it a collision. Therefore, collision insurance pays for the damages.

Events like the hypothetical ones stated above are why it's important to differentiate between the two types of coverage.

Do you need collision and comprehensive insurance?

Collision and comprehensive insurance ensure you won't be on the hook for any costly car damage in a crash or other incident, so we generally recommend that most drivers have both.

If you have a lease or loan on your car, you may be required to have collision and comprehensive insurance. Your lender wants to protect their investment and ensure there are sufficient funds to allow the driver to repair the vehicle if it's damaged.

We also suggest you have both comprehensive and collision coverages until you can comfortably pay for a replacement vehicle. The exact point at which you should drop full coverage will depend on your financial situation, but we recommend looking into removing full coverage if the maximum payout (if your car is destroyed or stolen) is between four to six times the cost of coverage. This generally occurs when your car is:

  • 8 to 12 years old

  • Worth approximately $5,000-$10,000

However, as a car ages, collision and comprehensive coverages tend to be a worse value. This is because the value of an older car (and as a result, your highest possible payout after a crash) drops more than twice as fast as the price of those coverages.

What if I only get comprehensive insurance?

There is a case to be made for getting just comprehensive and not collision insurance, even if your car is not valuable. Comprehensive covers you for a lot more perils than collision coverage does — including theft.

Regardless of what your car is worth, having it stolen is a major inconvenience, especially if you depend on it to get to work every day. Even if your car is worth only $2,000 at the time of the theft, and your insurer gives you $1,500, that sum would go a long way toward buying a new vehicle.

As we discuss in more detail below, comprehensive insurance is generally quoted at no more than $200 per year, so a $1,500 reimbursement would make the coverage valuable.

However, only 3% of drivers who have comprehensive insurance make a claim in a given year, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to add that coverage to your policy.

How much do collision and comprehensive coverage cost?

Across 10 of the most popular vehicles in America, collision coverage costs $1,969 per year and comprehensive coverage costs $164 for new vehicles.

In general, the cost of collision coverage is comparable to liability coverage, while comprehensive is about a tenth as expensive as liability protection.

Comparing quotes from multiple insurance companies can get you more affordable car insurance rates.

Cost of liability, collision and comprehensive coverages

Liability coverage
Collision coverage
Comprehensive coverage
Total cost of full coverage
Toyota Camry$1,986$1,939$185$4,110
Honda Accord$1,644$2,304$168$4,116
Honda Civic$1,662$2,029$131$3,822
Nissan Altima$1,704$2,043$177$3,924
Toyota Corolla$1,800$1,875$153$3,828
Honda CR-V$1,596$1,522$146$3,264
Ford Escape$1,668$1,622$118$3,408
Ford F-150$1,704$1,569$189$3,462
Chevrolet Silverado$1,986$2,696$184$4,866
Ram 1500$1,716$2,086$188$3,990

To find the typical added cost of comprehensive and collision coverages, we gathered quotes for liability-only, liability plus comprehensive and full-coverage policies for 10 of the bestselling vehicles in America for a 30-year-old male from New York across four different insurance companies.

How many drivers have comprehensive insurance?

77% of drivers have comprehensive insurance, but the share of drivers who have this coverage may vary by state. Including comprehensive insurance on your policy can be particularly important if you're in a location with severe weather or high crime rates, as it protects your vehicle from off-road perils such as natural disasters or theft.

States with the largest percent of drivers with comprehensive coverage

Drivers with comprehensive coverage
New Hampshire93%

Drivers in coastal states especially benefit from comprehensive coverage, which covers damage to your car from tornadoes, hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding and Nor'easters.

States with the lowest percent of drivers with comprehensive coverage

Drivers with comprehensive coverage
New Mexico62%

You might think inland states have a lower risk of storms like hurricanes or earthquakes. But Oklahoma has an extremely high incidence of tornadoes, and Arkansas is at risk from severe weather including heavy storms. New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana are subject to wildfire risk as well.

Some of the most notable states for hurricane risk and other natural disasters are California, Texas and Louisiana. But there are a surprisingly low share of drivers in these states with comprehensive coverage compared to the rest of the country, averaging 72% of drivers across all three states.

Number of drivers with comprehensive coverage by state

Despite the myriad of risks in many states — hurricanes, flooding, thunderstorms, fires — roughly one fourth of drivers have chosen to skip comprehensive insurance. If you have a valuable car and are in and at-risk area for natural perils, consider comprehensive insurance to protect against unforeseen risks of damage to your car.

Share of drivers with comprehensive coverage
1New Hampshire93.3%
9District of Columbia83.4%
11New York82.9%
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Frequently asked questions

What is collision insurance?

Collision insurance is a type of coverage that pays for damage to your own car as a result of an accident. Collision insurance will pay out even if you're responsible for the crash. Collision doesn't pay for anything else, like damage to someone else's car or medical bills.

What is comprehensive insurance?

Comprehensive coverage pays to repair damage to your car as a result of anything that's not a collision. For example, comprehensive would pay for vandalism or hail damage. Comprehensive also covers theft.

Do I need collision and comprehensive coverages?

Collision and comprehensive are not required by law, so you don't need to buy them in order to register your car. However, many car financing companies require them, so you might need them in order to qualify for a lease or loan. We also recommend both coverages if your car is worth more than $3,000 or is less than 10 years old, or if you would not be able to afford a new car if yours were destroyed.

How much are collision coverage and comprehensive coverage?

How much you'll pay for collision and comprehensive depends on what car you drive, your deductible and your driving history, but in general, you can expect to pay about the same amount for collision as for a liability-only policy, while comprehensive is about 10% as expensive. So if a liability-only policy costs $100 per month, adding just collision would bring the total cost up to$200, and adding comprehensive too would make the total cost $210 per month.


To understand how adding collision and comprehensive coverage impacts car insurance rates, we collected rates for four coverage profiles in New York state:

  • Liability only
  • Liability and comprehensive
  • Liability and collision
  • Full coverage (liability, collision and comprehensive)

For each coverage profile, we gathered sample rates from four major insurers for 10 of the best-selling vehicles in the country. All sample quotes are for a 30-year-old man in New York with no recent incidents on his record.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.