What is Full Coverage Car Insurance?

We explain when it's worth buying, what it covers and how you can save on full coverage insurance rates.

Kayda NormanJul 15, 2021
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Key takeaways

  • Full coverage car insurance isn't a specific type of policy, but rather a combination of coverage types.

  • You may want or need full coverage insurance if you have a new car, live in a place with extreme weather conditions or have an auto loan or lease.

  • Policies with full coverage can cost twice as much as state-mandated insurance, but offers greater protection.

Full coverage car insurance is a term that refers to a combination of coverage types that can protect your car in most situations. Even though you’ve probably heard of full coverage insurance, there’s no such thing as a “full coverage policy.”

Full coverage car insurance definition

Full coverage insurance typically combines collision and comprehensive insurance, which pay out if your vehicle is damaged, plus liability coverage, which pays for injuries and damage you cause to others.

But this extra protection comes at a cost. Since it covers more situations, full coverage insurance is pricier than liability coverage alone, which only pays for injuries and damage you cause to others. To find cheap full coverage insurance, it’s important to shop around for the best rates.

What does full coverage car insurance cover?

Full coverage insurance provides coverage for most scenarios, including damage to your car from the weather, an at-fault accident, hitting an animal or vandalism. It will even pay out the current value of your car if your vehicle is stolen.

Full coverage auto insurance may include:

Coverage type

What it pays for

Required?

Bodily injury liability

Medical costs due to injuries or deaths from an accident you caused.

Typically required.

Property damage liability

Repair costs for property you damaged in an accident.

Often required.

Uninsured motorist bodily injury liability 

Medical costs after an accident with an uninsured driver.

Required on all policies in 20 states and Washington, D.C.

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage

Repair costs after an accident with an uninsured driver.

Required on all policies in 7 states and Washington, D.C.

Collision coverage

Repair costs to your car if you crash with another vehicle or run into an object, such as a tree or a telephone pole.

A car loan or lease may require it.

Comprehensive coverage

Repair costs from events outside your control — including weather, hitting an animal while driving, theft and vandalism.

A car loan or lease may require it.

But full coverage auto insurance doesn’t cover everything. If you want extras like new-car replacement insurance, emergency roadside assistance or custom parts and equipment coverage, you may need to add them separately.

How much is full coverage car insurance?

The national average cost of full coverage auto insurance in 2021 is $1,592 per year or about $133 a month for a 40-year-old good driver with good credit, according to NerdWallet’s analysis of average car insurance rates.

Although it’s one of the largest insurers in the country, Liberty Mutual is not included in our analysis because it does not provide rate data.

Full coverage insurance vs. minimum rates by company

NerdWallet compared 2021 rates for minimum and full coverage auto policies across the country. Among the largest companies, we found that full coverage insurance costs more than twice as much as minimum coverage, on average.

Company

Full

Minimum

Annual difference

Geico

$1,268

$380

$888

State Farm

$1,491

$550

$941

Progressive

$1,562

$577

$985

Farmers

$1,830

$656

$1,174

Allstate

$2,381

$759

$1,622

USAA

$1,169

$419

$751

*USAA is available only to active military, veterans and their families.

Who needs full coverage auto insurance

Full coverage car insurance isn’t required by law. Many states mandate only a small amount of auto liability insurance. But that won’t cover your injuries or car repairs — only damage or injuries you cause others.

Nerdy tip: If you have an auto loan or lease, your lender likely requires you to buy collision and comprehensive coverage. The vast majority of companies offer these policies, but some insurers don’t let you purchase one without the other.

Buying full coverage auto insurance may be a sound investment if:

  • You have a new or expensive car.

  • You have an auto loan or lease.

  • You regularly commute in heavy traffic.

  • You live in a place with extreme weather, high car theft rates or a high risk of animal collisions.

  • You can’t afford to repair or replace your car if it’s wrecked or stolen.

For an older vehicle, however, full coverage may not be worth the cost. Comprehensive and collision insurance reimburse you only up to the cash value of your car at the time it’s damaged or stolen. And they usually have an insurance deductible, an amount you’re expected to pay out of pocket toward repair or replacement.

Imagine it costs you $600 per year for comprehensive and collision, and you have a $1,000 deductible. If your car is worth $1,500, a claim check would be $1,000 at most. This leaves you with $500, which is $100 less than what you paid for the coverage. Checking your car’s current value can help you decide whether full coverage makes sense.

Even with full coverage, there are other policy options you might need. For example, uninsured motorist coverage, gap insurance and medical payments insurance all pay for expenses full coverage car insurance won’t. If you’re on the fence, play with the coverage options you see online when shopping for car insurance quotes.

Full coverage auto insurance rates in each state

Prices vary even more by state. Compare annual average rates below for minimum and full coverage car insurance in each state.

State

Full coverage

Minimum coverage

Annual difference

$1,501

$474

$1,027

$1,521

$417

$1,104

$1,536

$567

$968

$1,883

$495

$1,388

$1,911

$617

$1,294

$2,012

$528

$1,484

$1,791

$841

$950

$1,733

$823

$910

$2,321

$685

$1,636

$1,820

$757

$1,063

$1,049

$326

$723

$998

$320

$678

$1,397

$468

$929

$1,179

$383

$796

$1,151

$255

$896

$1,600

$464

$1,136

$2,363

$790

$1,574

$2,762

$895

$1,867

$963

$372

$591

$1,872

$860

$1,011

$1,100

$431

$669

$2,387

$1,128

$1,259

$1,418

$559

$859

$1,636

$498

$1,138

$1,526

$484

$1,043

$1,726

$362

$1,364

$1,376

$365

$1,010

$2,161

$839

$1,322

$1,169

$429

$740

$1,860

$851

$1,009

$1,418

$390

$1,028

$2,131

$1,070

$1,061

$1,212

$410

$801

$1,195

$352

$843

$989

$351

$638

$1,748

$451

$1,297

$1,358

$670

$688

$1,406

$431

$974

$2,043

$842

$1,201

$1,652

$606

$1,046

$1,455

$301

$1,154

$1,298

$400

$898

$1,610

$560

$1,050

$1,390

$577

$813

$1,123

$338

$785

$1,248

$478

$771

$1,234

$457

$777

$1,880

$736

$1,144

$1,605

$517

$1,088

$1,160

$361

$799

$1,369

$335

$1,035

These benchmark rates can help you know what to expect, but to get the best rates possible, you’ll want to compare car insurance quotes.

How to save on full coverage car insurance

Shop around. To find cheap full coverage insurance, it’s important to shop around. Compare rates with at least three companies to find the cheapest rate for you.

Look for discounts. There are car insurance discounts for everything from getting good grades to owning a new car. Call your agent to confirm what’s offered to maximize your savings.

Consider increasing your deductible. One way to lower your car insurance bill is by raising the deductible, or what you pay before insurance kicks in. Doing this will lower the overall cost of your policy, although savings vary by company.

Avoid traffic infractions. Speeding tickets, accidents and DUIs can increase your car insurance rates drastically, even after one incident. These infractions can stay on your record for three to five years, so make sure to drive cautiously if you want the cheapest rates.

Work on your credit. Your credit history can have a big impact on your auto insurance bill. In fact, our rates analysis found having poor credit can increase your rates as much as a DUI for some drivers.

Frequently asked questions

Despite the name, full coverage insurance doesn’t include everything. Depending on your state minimums, coverage that might not be considered full coverage include:

Policies with full coverage pay out if your car is damaged, while minimum insurance typically only covers damage to another car or person. If you don’t want to be stuck paying for damage to your car, or wouldn’t be able to afford it, you may want to pay for extra coverage. In particular, drivers who live in areas with extreme weather conditions, own an expensive vehicle or have a high-traffic commute might benefit from full coverage insurance. Shop around for car insurance quotes to find the best full coverage insurance for you.

Full coverage isn’t a specific policy, but generally includes several types of coverage including liability insurance, comprehensive and collision coverage and any other coverage needed to meet the state’s minimum insurance requirements.

If you have an older car, and it isn’t worth much more than your deductible, consider dropping comprehensive and collision coverage. But remember, if you have a car loan or lease, your contract may require you to have full coverage insurance.

Methodology

NerdWallet averaged rates based on public filings obtained by pricing analytics company Quadrant Information Services. We examined rates for 40-year-old men and women for all ZIP codes in any of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Although it’s one of the largest insurers in the country, Liberty Mutual is not included in our rates analysis due to a lack of publicly available information.

In our analysis, “good drivers” had no moving violations on record; a “good driving” discount was included for this profile. Our “good” and “poor” credit rates are based on credit score approximations and do not account for proprietary scoring criteria used by insurance providers. These are average rates, and your rate will vary based on your personal details, state and insurance provider.

Sample drivers had the following coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability coverage per person.

  • $300,000 bodily injury liability coverage per crash.

  • $50,000 property damage liability coverage per crash.

  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person.

  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per crash.

  • Collision coverage with $1,000 deductible.

  • Comprehensive coverage with $1,000 deductible.

In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. We used the same assumptions for all other driver profiles, with the following exceptions:

  • For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect only the minimum coverage required by law in the state.

  • We changed the credit tier from “good” to “poor” as reported to the insurer to see rates for drivers with poor credit. In states where credit isn’t taken into account, we only used rates for “good” credit.

  • For drivers with one at-fault crash, we added a single at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage.

  • For drivers with a DUI, we added a single drunken driving violation.

We used a 2018 Toyota Camry LE in all cases and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven.

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