Should I Add Comprehensive or Collision Coverage?

February 26, 2018

Collision car

Determining the difference between collision coverage and comprehensive car insurance can be difficult. The terms sound similar and what they cover isn’t intuitive based on the name alone. will help you better understand these types of coverage so you know exactly what kind of coverage you need to cover common car insurance situations.

What Is Collision Coverage?

Collision coverage is designed to insure your vehicle against damage done to your car in a ‘collision’. Depending on the details of your policy, your vehicle or a non-owned rental vehicle may also be covered. In the event your car overturns or collides with another object or another vehicle: this is where collision coverage comes in.

Let’s walk through an example. You get into an accident, you hit another car carrying a family. Two members of the family are injured, their car needs some repair work and your car is damaged too. What coverage comes in where?

  • The Family’s Injuries: This is covered by your insurance policy’s bodily injury liability coverage, up to your coverage’s limits
  • The Other Car’s Damage: The other car is covered by your property damage liability, up to your policy’s limits
  • Your Car’s Damage: Your collision coverage, minus deductible, covers this with no limit

This type of coverage is designed to help you pay for damages to the vehicle you are driving. Liability coverage pays for damage you do to other vehicles and property in accidents in which you are at fault. Collision coverage for your car helps you pay for costly repairs or body work in the event you are involved in an accident.

But don’t be fooled: collision insurance won’t pay for all kinds of damage to your car. Damage to your car from wind, rain, fire, floods and theft are not covered under collision. That’s where comprehensive car insurance coverage comes in…

What is Comprehensive Coverage?

Comprehensive generally covers ‘everything else’ that isn’t an accident. If you reverse into something, side-swipe an object or chip your windshield – you’re covered. It’s important to note that this coverage also covers theft. If your car goes missing, your comprehensive coverage should pay out. This coverage is designed to cover the cost of repairs or replacement needed should your vehicle be damaged by any of these events.

Damage resulting from fire, floods, debris from severe storms are the kinds of damage typically covered under comprehensive car insurance. These are sometimes referred to by auto insurance providers as “Acts of God” in your policy contract and should also covered.

Let’s use another example. You’re reversing out your space in a parking lot, you hit a road sign and damage your rear bumper. No one is injured, but the traffic sign needs replacing and your bumper’s a mess. What covers what?

  • The Traffic Sign: This is covered by your property damage, up to your policy limits
  • Your Car’s Damage: Your bumper would be repaired using your comprehensive coverage, minus deductible, with no limit

What If I Hit A Deer?

Hitting an animal can be a murky middle ground. Whether you hit a deer on your ride home from work; hit a moose while looking at the Tetons; or run into a Bison in Yellowstone, those things can sure cause some damage. An average male deer weighs around 100lbs and when you’re travelling at 45mph that is a surefire recipe for a hefty repair bill.

Deer in the road

You’re colliding with an animal, so you’d think that would be covered under your collision coverage, right? Wrong. This comes under your comprehensive coverage. Unless you swerve to prevent hitting the deer and instead hit another car or a tree, then it comes under your collision. Phew. Confusing.

If you live an area where deer frequently run in front of your car (such as West Virginia or Montana) you may want to make sure your deductible is lower to prevent racking up big bills after a season of claims.

Are Comprehensive and Collision Coverage Required by Law?

In short, no, you are not required by law to carry comprehensive insurance or collision insurance. However, if you have purchased a new car or are leasing one, your lien holder may require that you carry these coverages as part of the terms of your agreement with them.

Additionally, both forms of insurance help you to pay for damage to your vehicle in the event that something happens to it, which can be helpful as auto repairs can be expensive, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Consult your current car insurance policy to determine your current coverage levels, or contact your agent to learn more.

Do These Coverages Affect Your Car Insurance Premium?

The types of coverages and the limits you set for each type of coverage affect how much you pay in car insurance premiums each month. Changing the limits of your coverage or removing coverage altogether can result in a lower car insurance payment.

Comprehensive coverage will generally add the most money onto your insurance premium. Clipping your garage as you reverse out or cracking your windshield is pretty common. Getting into an accident is, thankfully, less likely. That’s why comprehensive coverage is more expensive: you’re much more likely to make a claim.

The best way to see what works for you and your budget is to get a few quotes with Then you can compare prices and packages for free, side by side, and weigh-up what is important to you. If you’re happy to self-insure if you back into a mailbox, but you don’t want to take the risk in a larger accident, just add collision coverage and skip the comprehensive coverage. Whatever you decide, start with a quote today on

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