The Difference Between Comprehensive and Collision Coverage
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Comprehensive and collision insurance are two of the most important types of car insurance to understand. They’re not legally required by any state, but they can come to the rescue in a variety of situations.
Collision and comprehensive coverage are often sold as a package. Both pay to fix damage to your own car or replace it entirely — but they don’t cover injuries or damage to anyone else’s property.
Key terms in this article
Here are some common terms you will see associated with comprehensive and collision coverage.
A deductible is a set amount that is subtracted from a claim payout. When you buy your insurance policy, you select your deductible. If you choose a high deductible you will have a lower car insurance premium, but you will also pay more out-of-pocket if you make a claim.
Actual Cash Value
The value of your car in its current condition, not the price when you bought it or the trade-in value at a dealership. Cars decrease in value over time, so the actual cash value of your car will be less (sometimes significantly) than the purchase price.
Comprehensive vs. collision insurance
The main difference between comprehensive and collision insurance are the situations covered. Collision insurance pays for damage to your car if you hit an object or another vehicle, while comprehensive coverage pays for theft or damage from causes such as bad weather, fire or fallen trees. Some insurers require that you purchase collision and comprehensive insurance together, while other insurers may allow you to purchase these two types of coverage separately.
Collision insurance pays for:
Comprehensive insurance pays for:
The actual cash value of your car if it's stolen and not recovered, and damage from:
For more in-depth information, see our guides to comprehensive insurance and collision insurance.
How much comprehensive and collision coverage cost
To get realistic comparisons, we analyzed rates for minimum-coverage policies and compared them with policies with comprehensive, collision and higher liability limits. Together these three types of coverage are commonly considered “full coverage” car insurance.
Here are the rates for drivers with good credit and no recent traffic violations or accidents at the five largest auto insurance companies in the U.S. (In most states, drivers with good credit typically qualify for lower rates than those with poor credit. Four states — California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan — don't allow insurers to use credit in setting car insurance rates.)
Minimum required coverage
*USAA is available only to military members, veterans and their families.
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Car insurance rates vary widely by state for similar policies, and adding comprehensive and collision coverage costs more in some places than others. Below are the average cost differences between minimum and full coverage policies in every state for a driver with good credit and no recent tickets or accidents. Keep in mind that your own rate will depend on the value of your car, your location, your driving history and the deductible amount that you choose.
How to save on comprehensive and collision insurance
As you can see, average annual rates can vary by hundreds of dollars, so it’s worth shopping around for car insurance quotes from several companies to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Another way to save money is by raising your comprehensive and collision deductibles. An insurance deductible is a predetermined amount that is subtracted from a claim payout. Many policies offer options as high as $2,000. But do this only if you’re prepared to spend more of your own funds to fix or replace your car.
Do I need comprehensive and collision insurance?
About 79% of all U.S. drivers buy comprehensive coverage, and 75% buy collision, according to the Insurance Information Institute, which based its analysis on 2019 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
You should consider buying comprehensive and collision insurance if:
You lease your vehicle or took out a loan to buy it. Your lender or leasing company probably requires you to carry collision and comprehensive coverage.
You couldn’t afford to replace or significantly repair your car if you crashed it or someone stole it.
Your area has a high incidence of car theft, vandalism, severe weather (like hail) or animal collisions.
You probably don’t need comprehensive and collision insurance if your car is older and not worth a lot. Remember the maximum payout will be the value of your car if it’s totaled or stolen, minus the deductible.
If your car’s value is low, consider whether the potential payout would be worth the premiums you’ll pay. Remember, too, that the deductible amount will reduce any claims check.
Check out NADAguides for your car’s current value.
NerdWallet averaged insurance estimates for 35-year-old single male and female drivers with good credit and no tickets or violations. The analysis included 5-10 of the largest insurance companies in each state; smaller insurers were also included when rates were available. Liberty Mutual and its subsidiaries were excluded from our analysis as rates were not available.
For full coverage policies, we used the following coverage limits:
$100,000 bodily injury liability per person.
$300,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
$50,000 property damage liability per accident.
$100,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person.
$300,000 uninsured motorist coverage per accident.
Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. Some policies include additional coverages at the insurer’s discretion. We used a 2019 Toyota Camry L for all drivers and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven.
For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect the minimum required coverage by law in the state.
These are rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.