What Is Full Coverage Auto Insurance?
You know you need car insurance, but do you need full coverage? While liability car insurance covers damages caused to others in an accident, comprehensive and collision insurance covers damages to your vehicle. Collision typically covers damages that are your fault, such as during an accident with another car, and comprehensive covers situations where you may not have been involved at all, such as having your car stolen. Whether you hit a fence or find your car damaged in a flood, comprehensive and collision are the coverage types you need to have in place to make sure you can afford to repair or replace your car.
Defining Full Coverage Car Insurance
What It Covers
Comprehensive insurance covers damages to your vehicle that aren’t caused by an accident, such as hail damage, theft and vandalism.
Collision insurance protects you by paying for damages to your vehicle if you are at fault in an accident. This is true whether you are at fault in an accident with another driver or if you run into a tree, fence or another stationary object.
While there is no single definition of full coverage, it typically includes multiple insurance types that protect you financially by ensuring any damages you cause or incur will be covered. Full coverage often includes both comprehensive and collision insurance. Drivers who have car loans will often be required to carry full coverage to guarantee they can pay off their loans in the event of an accident.
What Is Full Coverage Car Insurance?
Full coverage auto insurance is a term used to describe a combination of coverage types that protect both you and other people or property involved in an accident. Your full coverage policy must include liability coverage and typically includes comprehensive and collision coverage as well, though it may include more depending on your additional coverage needs. Despite the terminology, there really is no such thing as full coverage. All coverage types come with deductibles, maximum benefits and other limits that prevent them from covering every possible aspect of every accident.
What Does Full Coverage Typically Include?
Full coverage is generally used to describe having multiple insurance types that provide a wide variety of coverage options. Typically, this includes a minimum of liability, comprehensive and collision coverage. Even the best auto insurance companies have no standard definition of full coverage insurance, but it could include a combination of insurance types with some options being incremental to full coverage:
Typical Full Coverage Inclusions
What It Covers
Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car not caused by a collision, including weather-related damage, motor vehicle theft and falling objects such as tree branches or hail.
Collision insurance covers damages to your vehicle if you are at fault in an accident, whether you hit another vehicle, a wall or a tree.
Property Damage Liability
Property damage liability insurance covers damages to another person’s vehicle if you are at fault in an accident.
Bodily Injury Liability
Bodily injury liability covers medical bills in the event of bodily injury sustained by other people in an accident where you were at fault.
Additional Insurance Options
What It Covers
Personal Injury Protection
Often referred to as PIP coverage, personal injury protection covers medical bills and, sometimes, lost wages for the driver and passengers in your vehicle.
GAP insurance is designed to cover the difference between what your insurance policy pays and the amount of your car loan. It prevents you from being forced to make payments on a totaled vehicle.
Roadside assistance coverage typically covers tow trucks, flat tires, fuel delivery and locksmith services.
Uninsured motorist coverage covers you and your passengers at the same levels as your liability limits if you are in an accident where an uninsured driver was at fault. Often referred to as UMC, it’s mandatory in some states and optional in others.
What Does 50/100/50 or 100/300/100 Mean?
Your liability coverage is a group of three numbers. These numbers represent, in thousands of dollars, the amount of coverage the policy provides. A 50/100/50 policy offers coverage in the amounts of $50,000/$100,000/$50,000.
The first number represents your bodily injury liability coverage per person, meaning each person in the other vehicle is covered for up to $50,000 for medical bills. The second number is the total your insurance will pay for bodily injury liability claims for the entire accident. The third number is the total amount your insurance company will pay for property damage in an accident.
For example, imagine that your liability coverage is 50/100/50, and you rear-end another car on the highway with three passengers inside. Two of them sustain minor injuries, each requiring $1,000 in medical care, but the third is severely injured and requires $80,000 worth of treatment. You caused $62,000 in property damage.
Your insurance payout would be:
- $1,000 for the first person.
- $1,000 for the second person.
- $50,000 for the third person.
- $50,000 for property damage.
Even with $100,000 worth of bodily injury coverage available, the $50,000 per person cap leaves you with $30,000 of medical liability and $12,000 of property liability out-of-pocket.
How Much Does Full Coverage Auto Insurance Cost?
Because of the expanded benefits, the average cost of full coverage car insurance is more expensive than a liability-only policy. An insurance company takes on more risk when they agree to cover the cost of your vehicle in a collision or due to other damages, so they charge a higher premium to account for that risk. All of the coverage types listed, including less common coverage types such as GAP insurance and roadside assistance, can typically be added to your insurance policy for an additional cost.
Many people choosing full coverage also opt for higher levels of liability coverage than the state minimum requirements, with the most common liability levels being 100/300/100.
These amounts are, on average, 47.18% more expensive than a 50/100/50 liability policy. Some insurance companies may even require you to have higher liability levels depending on the additional types of insurance you choose, such as uninsured motorist coverage. While higher levels of coverage may cost more, it can be worth it for some drivers, especially if you're making payments on your vehicle. The cheapest companies for full coverage auto insurance may offer additional perks like roadside assistance, safe-driver discounts and other promotions to help offset coverage costs.
Cheapest Full Coverage Car Insurance Companies 100/300/100
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The Average Annual Cost of Car Insurance
This is 60% more expensive.
Do You Need Full Coverage Car Insurance, and Is It Worth It?
When it comes to full coverage, most drivers have a lot of questions. Do you need collision insurance? What about comprehensive? When should you drop collision insurance? Many drivers may find they don’t have a choice because their car is financed or leased. Most banks and financing companies require their customers to maintain full collision and comprehensive coverage to protect their investment.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should drop these coverage types the moment your loan is paid off. If you cannot afford to replace your vehicle if it is totaled in an accident, you may need to maintain collision and comprehensive insurance even if your car isn’t financed any longer. Once you have reached a point where you can afford to replace your car out of pocket, you may want to consider dropping your comprehensive and collision coverage. Even if you choose to let go of your comprehensive and collision policies, you may still decide to hold onto other parts of your full coverage, such as roadside assistance or uninsured motorist coverage.
If you do choose to drop comprehensive and collision coverage, you may want to take that opportunity to increase your liability coverage. This may not be your first thought, but remember that even 100/300/100 liability levels may not be enough if you hit a car with multiple passengers or accidentally hit a very expensive car.
When Are PIP and Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required?
Each state has different laws and regulations regarding insurance, including what coverage types are required and the minimum level of those coverage types you are legally allowed to purchase. Most of the time, you’ll be required to purchase uninsured motorist coverage or personal injury protection if:
- You live in a no-fault state like Florida.
- You live in a state with no minimum insurance requirement, like New Hampshire.
- Like New Jersey, a few states offer the ability to waive your right to sue after an accident for reduced insurance premiums. If you live in one of these states and refuse to sign the waiver, you may be required to carry UM or PIP.
Is Roadside Assistance Worth Buying?
Roadside assistance coverage can be purchased through your insurance policy or as a separate account through a third-party provider like AAA. Roadside assistance plans are generally cheaper through your insurance policy.
Whether or not you need roadside assistance coverage depends on your individual needs. For example, if you are not capable of changing a flat tire or you have a habit of locking your keys in the car, you may want to sign up for a roadside assistance policy.
Comprehensive Insurance and What It Covers
Comprehensive insurance covers non-collision claims, including:
Glass damage: Chipped and cracked windshields, sunroofs, side glass and rear window glass are all covered.
Hail damage: Both body damage and glass damage are covered.
Fire damage: Most, but not all, causes of fire are covered. Check the specifics of your policy to verify specific coverage.
Theft: Your vehicle typically has to be missing for 30 days or more for you to receive the actual cash value of your car.
Vandalism: Almost any type of vandalism is covered, but check your plan details to determine the specifics of filing a vandalism claim.
Falling trees/rocks: No matter the cause, if a tree, rock or other item falls on your vehicle, you will file a comprehensive claim.
Flood damage: Whether you drive into a body of water or a flood suddenly appears, you would file a comprehensive claim.
Animal damage: Whether you hit a deer or a family of chipmunks chews up all of the hoses and tubes under your hood, animal damage is covered under comprehensive insurance.
Collision Insurance and What It Covers
Collision insurance covers collision claims, including:
Car crash: If you hit someone else, your liability coverage pays for their damages, and your collision coverage pays for your property damage. Medical payments are not included under collision coverage.
Hitting a tree, fence or guardrail: If you run into a stationary object, such as a tree, fence, pole, guardrail or mailbox, the damage to your vehicle would be covered by collision.
Pothole damage: Collision coverage pays for damages to your car if you hit a pothole. Check the specifics of your policy to verify the limits to any pothole damage your car may receive.
Ditch or trench: If you run off the road and end up damaging your car in a ditch or a trench, collision coverage will pay for that damage.
Hitting a building: If you end up accidentally hitting a house, business or other structure, collision coverage will pay for the damage to your car, and liability coverage would pay for the damage to the building.
When Should I Drop Collision or Comprehensive Insurance?
You should ask yourself several questions when deciding whether or not to drop your comprehensive and collision coverage, including:
Do I owe money on my car? If you still have loans or other financing in place on your vehicle, the odds are good that you are required to maintain both comprehensive and collision coverage.
How much is my car worth? How much is my car worth? If your vehicle has a very low value, it might not be worth maintaining comprehensive and collision coverage on your car.
Am I in a financial position to replace my car? No matter how much your car costs to replace, if you have the money to pay for a new vehicle out-of-pocket, you may not want to maintain comprehensive and collision coverage.
How much are my premiums costing me? Consider the 10% rule. If your premiums are more than 10% of your vehicle's cash value, experts say you may want to drop comprehensive and collision insurance.
How to Get Full Coverage Auto Insurance
Almost every auto insurance company offers comprehensive and collision coverage in addition to liability insurance. Still, their rates can vary by hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the exact same coverage. Each company has its own rating system, so getting multiple quotes is the best way to find the lowest rates available for your insurance. Compare rates between multiple companies to ensure you get the best possible price on the right policy for you.
Get Full Coverage Car Insurance in Your State
It's important to remember that drivers have unique situations when it comes to their car insurance needs. How much insurance you need depends on many factors, including where you live, how much you drive, who drives your car and how much your car is worth.
The laws, rules and regulations regarding full coverage car insurance vary from state to state, so it is essential to get a quote based on your state. Some states have specific requirements, like personal injury protection, which can influence your car insurance rates. Comparing rates based on your state's requirements and options can help you compare quotes and find coverage that best meets your needs.
Find Cheap Car Insurance by State
About the Author
- Cornell Law School. "Collision Insurance Coverage." Accessed May 14, 2020.
- Cornell Law School. "Comprehensive Insurance Coverage." Accessed May 14, 2020.
- New Hampshire Insurance Department. "Automobile and Vehicle Insurance." Accessed May 14, 2020.
- State of New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. "Get Legal with New Jersey's Basic Auto Insurance Policy." Accessed May 22, 2020.