Collision vs. Comprehensive: What is the difference?

Comprehensive and collision coverages are popular choices for car insurance. Together, they cover damage to your car after an accident and other covered incidents.

UPDATED: Sep 1, 2022Fact Checked

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Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach Sara Routhier

Cynthia Lanctot is an insurance professional with ten years of industry experience. Cynthia is licensed in several states, and holds an associate in claims law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English. Cynthia’s experience includes the New England and Northeast states. She currently works as a liability claims professional and an occasional online contributor.

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Reviewed by Cynthia Lanctot
Licensed Agent Cynthia Lanctot

UPDATED: Sep 1, 2022

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A Concise Overview

  • Comprehensive insurance covers damage from weather, fire, vandalism, animal contact, and theft, while collision pays for repairs after a car accident
  • Both coverages are generally affordable, though comprehensive usually costs less than collision insurance
  • The key factors in deciding if you need comprehensive and collision insurance are your ownership status and how much your car is worth

Whether you just bought the latest model off the lot or you’re serious about classic cars, all drivers need coverage for their ride. As two important components of full coverage auto insurance, collision and comprehensive coverage are popular choices for all drivers.

Comprehensive and collision insurance coverages offer vital protection against a variety of threats to your car. However, you might not need to buy one or the other, or either — it all depends on your vehicle.

Read on to explore what collision and comprehensive insurance covers and if they’re right for you. Then, compare quotes from multiple companies to find the best rates possible.

What is comprehensive and collision insurance?

People often think of comprehensive and collision insurance together, but they cover different events.

Collision insurance pays for repairs to your car after an accident, no matter who is at fault. It also covers repairs if you hit a stationary object like a tree or mailbox.

Comprehensive insurance covers other sources of damage to your car. While every policy is different, most comprehensive plans cover damage from weather, fire, animal contact, vandalism, and theft.

Although you can purchase comprehensive or collision as individual add-ons for your policy, most drivers buy them together. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 79% of U.S. drivers purchase comprehensive coverage, and 75% get collision insurance.

If you need full coverage, collision and comprehensive insurance will be part of your policy. However, full coverage includes more than comprehensive and collision — it also includes liability, uninsured motorist, and personal injury protection or medical payments.

When should you make a collision insurance claim?

When you think of collision insurance, you probably think of a car accident involving two or more vehicles. While collision insurance covers that scenario, many other events are covered. 

You can make a collision claim for the following events:

  • Swerving to avoid an animal and hitting a tree
  • Losing control of your car on ice and sliding into a guardrail
  • Another driver bumps into your vehicle and doesn’t stop to exchange insurance information
  • You accidentally hit a parked car
  • You drive into a ditch

This is only a sample of the events eligible for a collision claim. If you are unsure whether your collision insurance covers something, an insurance representative can help.

When should you make a comprehensive claim?

Comprehensive insurance handles a wider variety of damage than collision coverage. As long as your policy covers the damage, making a comprehensive claim is as simple as any other type of insurance claim. 

You can typically make a comprehensive claim for the following events:

  • An animal jumped in front of your vehicle and you hit it
  • Your car is stolen and deemed unrecoverable
  • A branch falls and smashes the roof of your car
  • Hail damages your car
  • Your garage catches fire while your car is in it

The damage comprehensive insurance covers is more complex than collision, so it’s always a good idea to check with an insurance representative to see what your policy covers.

What do collision and comprehensive insurance not cover?

When you add comprehensive and collision coverage to your liability insurance, your policy will cover almost everything the road can throw at your car.

However, they don’t cover everything. You’ll need separate coverage for the following events:

  • Injuries to you or your passengers. Instead, you’ll need personal injury protection, medical payments, or health insurance. If another driver hits you, their liability will also cover you.
  • Stolen items. If items like your wallet, electronics, or bags are stolen, comprehensive insurance won’t pay for it. Your homeowners or renters insurance will cover stolen items instead.
  • Custom parts and equipment. If you’ve installed custom equipment, your regular insurance won’t cover them even if they’re damaged in a covered incident. Instead, you’ll need custom parts and equipment coverage.
  • Intentional damage. As with other types of car insurance, if a company determines that you purposely damaged your car, your claim will be denied.

Although comprehensive and collision insurance coverages don’t cover everything, you can purchase additional coverages to fill in the gaps.

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How much do comprehensive and collision coverages cost?

Although there are many factors that affect how much you’ll pay for insurance, there is usually a noticeable difference between comprehensive and collision coverage prices. Collision insurance tends to be a little more expensive than comprehensive coverage.

The average cost for collision insurance is $358 a year, while comprehensive insurance costs about $160. However, you might pay more or less depending on your unique situation. 

One of the most important factors car insurance companies look at is your location. You can check the average cost of insurance in your state below.

Average Annual Full Coverage Auto Insurance Rates by State
StateAllstateFarmersGEICOLiberty MutualNationwideProgressiveState FarmTravelersAverage
AK$1,667 $1,195 $807$1,223
AL$1,332 $1,644 $1,099 $1,999 $1,189 $1,388 $1,337 $972$1,370
AR$2,007 $1,120 $1,227 $1,581 $1,620 $989$1,367 $1,416
AZ$2,226 $1,664 $808$1,436 $1,039 $999$1,292 $1,352
CA$1,996 $1,553 $1,774
CO$2,054 $2,010 $1,161 $1,133 $1,324 $1,490 $1,168 $1,475
CT$2,421 $768$2,486 $1,382 $1,641 $1,126 $1,030 $1,550
DC$2,976 $855$2,126 $1,420 $1,371 $1,750
DE$2,555 $1,243 $6,117 $1,777 $1,115 $1,431 $1,019 $2,180
FL$2,263 $1,103 $1,995 $1,272 $1,889 $1,223 $1,624
GA$2,035 $754$3,259 $1,878 $1,417 $1,324 $1,778
IA$1,008 $1,006 $1,432 $900$930$804$1,143 $1,049
ID$1,587 $1,139 $708$975$1,018 $653$707$992
IL$2,172 $587$935$1,146 $1,103 $796$1,077 $1,153
IN$1,729 $977$785$2,269 $1,198 $849$872$856$1,207
KS$1,973 $1,781 $923$2,148 $1,141 $1,575 $1,003 $1,071 $1,447
KY$988$2,080 $2,277 $1,377 $1,212 $1,725 $1,610
LA$2,547 $1,739 $1,990 $1,537 $1,953
MD$2,481 $1,671 $1,313 $1,493 $1,322 $1,656
ME$1,334 $1,446 $454$1,485 $1,166 $724$759$1,053
MI$5,017 $4,140 $1,219 $5,250 $3,184 $1,880 $2,585 $2,268 $3,193
MN$1,977 $1,333 $1,118 $4,640 $1,070 $828$1,732
MO$1,831 $1,674 $1,112 $1,597 $816$1,212 $1,051 $1,326
MS$1,822 $886$1,477 $1,190 $1,487 $1,018 $1,092 $1,282
MT$1,903 $2,025 $1,020 $726$1,093 $2,109 $870$1,392
NC$2,095 $851$1,020 $1,367 $393$949$1,228 $1,129
ND$1,679 $1,324 $749$4,919 $949$1,364 $943$1,715
NE$1,545 $1,606 $1,139 $2,213 $952$1,175 $850$1,358
NH$1,585 $624$2,453 $953$785$729$1,188
NJ$1,948 $2,861 $917$3,446 $1,154 $1,403 $1,679 $1,915
NM$1,958 $1,615 $1,119 $1,186 $1,069 $855$1,300
NV$2,046 $1,915 $1,361 $1,375 $1,386 $1,018 $1,272 $1,122 $1,470
NY$1,820 $963$2,473 $2,026 $1,188 $1,695 $2,159 $1,761
OH$1,483 $1,193 $728$1,311 $1,408 $1,051 $863$784$1,065
OK$1,668 $1,684 $1,350 $2,279 $1,362 $1,122 $1,577
OR$1,896 $1,378 $1,155 $1,738 $1,372 $959$926$1,197 $1,326
PA$1,829 $843$2,704 $1,066 $1,834 $938$931$1,449
RI$2,333 $1,547 $2,905 $2,351 $1,438 $939$1,275 $1,827
SC$1,650 $2,059 $979$1,459 $1,294 $1,089 $1,422
SD$1,682 $1,398 $706$2,849 $943$1,298 $827$1,446
TN$1,777 $1,065 $970$1,464 $1,141 $895$1,090 $1,200
TX$2,488 $1,303 $1,908 $1,493 $1,109 $1,745
UT$1,442 $1,417 $906$1,466 $1,154 $1,174 $1,269 $1,266
VA$1,277 $859$1,061 $754$785$947
VT$1,759 $469$1,242 $954$2,233 $1,079 $1,289
WA$1,415 $1,260 $922$1,140 $866$746$858$1,042
WI$1,521 $1,346 $766$1,039 $2,797 $1,158 $721$1,265
WV$2,000 $1,030 $2,419 $1,288 $1,362 $979$1,513
WY$1,918 $1,604 $1,369 $922$1,017 $1,366
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As you can see, there is a great deal of variation between states. Insurance companies keep careful track of claims to better understand the riskiness of its customers. If you live in an area with frequent accidents, you’ll pay more for collision insurance.

Alternatively, your comprehensive insurance rates will be higher if your state has frequent natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes.

How do vehicle theft rates affect comprehensive insurance rates?

While there are many factors, stress from the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with economic hardship has spurred a dramatic increase in car thefts. According to the III , nearly a million vehicles were stolen in 2020, and it doesn’t seem like car thieves are slowing down.

Car theft rates are another factor that insurance companies look at when determining how much to charge you. States with higher theft rates usually pay more for comprehensive insurance. 

Areas like Washington D.C. and Colorado have higher average comprehensive rates. While car theft isn’t the only reason those states see higher averages, it certainly plays a part.

If your car is stolen, your comprehensive insurance will pay to replace it. 

However, you can take steps to limit your risk of falling victim to theft, including using the following tips:

  • Park in well-lit, secure areas.
  • Always remove your keys from your car, and don’t leave it running.
  • Add anti-theft devices, such as alarms, GPS trackers, and engine kill switches.

Some steps to keep your car safe are simple, while adding anti-theft devices takes time and money. However, you might earn a discount for installing anti-theft devices in your car.

Do you need comprehensive and collision insurance?

Whether you need comprehensive and collision insurance depends on your car.

If you have a car loan or lease, your lender will probably require full coverage, which includes comprehensive and collision insurance.

Once you own your car outright, you won’t need collision and comprehensive insurance. However, it may be a good idea to keep the coverage.

A good way to determine if you should keep your coverage is to look at the value of your car. If you can’t afford to replace the vehicle or manage expensive repairs, you should consider keeping the extra insurance.

However, if your car is over 10 years old and its value is relatively low, you’ll probably be fine dropping your comprehensive and collision insurance. Just make sure you’re financially ready to either replace or repair your car out of your own pocket.

How do comprehensive and collision coverages work?

As with most other types of insurance, collision and comprehensive insurance have deductibles. Comprehensive and collision deductibles must be met before your insurance pays for the damage.

While you have many options for your deductible, most drivers select between $500 and $2,000. The lower your deductible, the more your monthly rates will be.

Many insurance companies offer diminishing deductibles for comprehensive and collision insurance. You can lower your deductible over time if you don’t file a claim.

Once you start a claim, your insurance company will examine the damage done to your car. 

You’ll receive payment to cover your repairs bills minus your deductible if your vehicle can be fixed. If your company decides to declare your car a total loss, you’ll receive a payment for its actual cash value (ACV).

How do insurance companies decide to declare a car a total loss?

Car repairs can get expensive quickly. If the damage to your car exceeds a certain threshold of its ACV, your insurance company will declare it a total loss.

Every company has a different threshold, but a car will usually be declared totaled if the cost to repair it exceeds 75% to 90% of its ACV.

Usually, your insurance company will send you a payment equal to your car’s ACV minus your deductible. Your totaled car will then be sold either as scrap or salvage so the company can recoup some of its losses.

You can use the money from your comprehensive or collision insurance to buy a new car, but what happens if you owe more on the loan than your vehicle is worth? 

Often called an upside-down loan, GAP coverage is an optional add-on that can protect you from paying for a vehicle you no longer have.

You can also keep your totaled car and make repairs to it yourself. If you opt to keep your car, your insurance company will deduct what it could’ve made from selling it from the payment you receive. Unless the car has sentimental value, it’s usually best to let it go — getting your car street legal can take a lot of work.

How long do comprehensive or collision repairs take?

The amount of time it takes for a mechanic to make comprehensive or collision repairs depends on the damage. 

Take a look below to see how long the most common repairs usually take:

  • Windshield repair — a few hours
  • Minor body work — one to two days
  • Bumper repair or replacement — one day
  • Internal parts replacement — one to two weeks
  • Major repairs on multiple parts — one month or longer

The average repair time has recently lengthened because of increased technology. As cars become smarter and safer, parts have become more expensive to replace. They also take a more knowledgeable repair technician to fix.

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What happens if another driver hits you?

When someone else hits you, you have two options. 

First, you can make a claim through the other driver’s liability insurance. Most states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of property damage liability, which will pay for any damage they cause to your car.

Your other option is to use your own collision insurance. While making a claim with your insurance will save you the hassle of communicating with the other driver’s company, it will increase your rates. You’ll also have to pay your deductible before you receive payment.

Although most state laws require drivers to carry insurance, there’s always a chance you’ll encounter an uninsured motorist. 

In the case of a hit-and-run, whether or not your comprehensive or collision insurance covers you depends on what your policy covers. Your car repairs will be paid from your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage first. 

If the damage exceeds your uninsured motorist — or you don’t have it — your collision insurance will take over.

Do comprehensive and collision coverages cover rental cars?

Your collision and comprehensive insurance do not cover the price of a rental vehicle if you need a temporary ride while your car is being fixed. You’ll need rental car reimbursement if you want that coverage.

Once you sign for a rental car, your insurance usually covers it, including your liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage. Make sure to check with an insurance representative first, but having your own car insurance can save you from having to buy coverage from the rental company.

Find the Best Comprehensive and Collision Rates Today

Comprehensive and collision insurance coverages protect your car from a wide array of damage. While they don’t offer complete protection, collision and comprehensive are essential parts of full coverage insurance.

Comparing quotes is the best way to find comprehensive and collision insurance options that fit your needs at an affordable price. Looking at rates from different companies will help you find coverage at the right price.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does comprehensive coverage vs. collision coverage cost?

The average cost of comprehensive insurance is $160 a year, while collision coverage usually costs about $358. However, the actual amount you’ll pay depends on a variety of factors, such as your location, age, and driving history.

Is it better to have collision or comprehensive insurance?

Although having both offers the best coverage, you don’t always need comprehensive or collision insurance. If you’re trying to save money, comprehensive is your best bet. Not only is it cheaper, but it protects your vehicle from damaging events beyond your control.

When should you drop collision insurance?

A good time to consider dropping your collision insurance is when the amount you pay for coverage in a year equals 10% of your car’s ACV. Although collision insurance is helpful, there’s no reason to pay more for coverage than your car is worth.

Should you get comprehensive insurance?

There’s a lot that can damage your car outside accidents. Without comprehensive coverage, you’ll have to pay for any damage caused by weather, fire, vandalism, or theft from your own pocket. Comprehensive insurance can save you thousands if anything happens to your car.

No state requires comprehensive insurance, but you’ll likely need it if you have a loan or lease. Comprehensive coverage is still valuable even if you don’t technically need it.

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