Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Apr 9, 2019

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There are many different types of auto insurance and before buying coverage you need to understand how auto insurance works.

Outside of liability insurance, comprehensive and collision coverage are the most popular types of additional insurance most drivers purchase.

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All states have mandatory auto insurance requirements however these laws only require you to typically purchase liability insurance.

Liability insurance is designed to cover damages to other people’s vehicles whereas collision and comprehensive are forms of supplemental insurance to provide coverage for damages to your vehicle.

However, they both have different features so it’s important to understand the differences between collision and comprehensive auto insurance.

What is comprehensive car insurance?

Any kind of damage which happens as a result of a non-collision will often fall under comprehensive auto insurance. Not everything is covered as all auto insurance policies have exclusions, but typically any damage to your vehicle not caused by a collision is covered.

For example, a tree branch falling down hitting your parked vehicle, a windstorm causing debris to dent your parked vehicle or skateboard breaking your windshield. Some auto insurance policies even include car accidents with a deer or moose under comprehensive insurance.

The most important thing to remember is that comprehensive auto insurance is essentially for all the damage caused by accidents which do not involve your moving vehicle colliding with something else. Moving is typically the key word here.

What is collision insurance?

In addition to comprehensive insurance most drivers also opt for collision coverage. This type of auto insurance is a bit more self-explanatory as it provides coverage for damage resulting from collision with another object or vehicle.

If you hit another car, drive into a light pole or dodge a rabbit and collide with a fence then its collision insurance which will pay for damages.

Typically collision coverage only kicks in for accidents where your car was moving and collided with something else.

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Should I buy collision or comprehensive car insurance?

Most drivers opt for a full coverage auto insurance policy which combines liability, collision and comprehensive coverage under a single payment. However not every driver needs collision or comprehensive insurance.

If you have an older vehicle that has little value it may not make sense to pay for such additional coverage.

If you have a new vehicle where auto repairs can quickly escalate to $1,000 or more for even minor damage (and you plan to keep the car) then collision and comprehensive car insurance are typically recommended.

Do I have to buy collision or comprehensive car insurance?

State auto insurance requirements only require forms of liability insurance to comply with the law so there is no mandatory requirement to buy collision or comprehensive insurance.

However, people who finance or lease a vehicle may be obligated to purchase collision or comprehensive car insurance as part of their financing terms.

Drivers who lease a vehicle will always be required to obtain collision and comprehensive insurance whereas those who purchase a vehicle may not, depending on the auto loan company.

How much is collision or comprehensive auto insurance?

The cost of collision and comprehensive car insurance will depend on your unique risk profile. For drivers who carry a typical full coverage auto insurance policy collision coverage represents typically around 20% of the annual premium and comprehensive around 7%.

So, if the total cost of your annual premium is $1,500 then around $300 of this would pay for collision and around $100 would pay for comprehensive.

Auto insurance rates vary depending on where you live, your driving record, the type of vehicle insured and more so it’s hard to predict how much comprehensive and collision insurance will cost for you, but they do often make up a sizeable chunk of your overall premium.

Start an auto insurance comparison search today and Compare Auto Insurance Quotes for new and used cars nationwide!

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  3. Full Coverage Car Insurance vs Liability Insurance
  4. What is GAP auto insurance?
  5. Will auto insurance cover a car accident with a deer?