Why Buy Both Comprehensive and Collision Insurance?

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This Q&A comes from partner site CarInsurance.com.

Question:

Why should I buy both comprehensive and collision coverage for my car? What do they cover?

Answer:

If you want to be sure that your car will be repaired after an accident, you’ll want to carry both comprehensive and collision coverage.

The type of coverage your state requires you to carry is liability, and that only pays for the damage you inflict on other people. Comprehensive and collision allow you to claim for damages to your own vehicle. Sometimes these two physical damage policies, along with the state-mandated liability coverage, are referred to as full coverage.

What comprehensive covers

Comprehensive coverage is also known as other-than-collision coverage, or OTC, and the situations it covers vary by insurer but typically include:

  • Glass damage (such as a broken windshield, sunroof, or side window)
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Fire
  • Damage from falling objects (such as a tree)
  • Damage from hitting a bird or animal (such as a deer)
  • Flood
  • Damage from severe weather or certain natural disasters (such as hail, wind storm, hurricane, or tornado)

Comprehensive doesn’t cover every situation. Some losses aren’t covered under any type of coverage, like personal items stolen out of your vehicle.

What collision covers

Collision coverage differs from comprehensive because it pays for the repairs when your vehicle hits or is hit by another vehicle or object – regardless of who’s at fault. So damage done from an auto accident will be covered by collision, not comprehensive.

Should I buy both?

If you drive your car on a regular basis and want protection from accidents, severe weather, hitting a deer, and the like, you would need to carry both collision and comprehensive coverage as part of your car insurance policy.

If you are storing your vehicle and just want protection from theft, then you may only need comprehensive. Many car insurance companies, however, won’t let you carry one without the other.

Both collision and comprehensive come with a deductible, the amount you pay out before your insurance benefits start up. To save money, you can choose a higher deductible amount, though not so high that you couldn’t afford it if you needed to make a claim.

And if your car is older and not worth much, you may decide that you don’t need collision or comprehensive. If your car is financed, however, your lender will require you to carry them until your loan or lease is paid off.

If you’re unsure if you can afford collision and comprehensive coverages, comparison shop with multiple car insurance providers to make certain you’re getting the best rates possible. You may be able to keep the same coverage at a lower price.

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