If you’ve recently purchased a new vehicle, you know that in order to drive in most states, you need to purchase a basic type of car insurance, but you may be overwhelmed by your coverage options. Comprehensive and collision are the two types of physical damage coverage available on car insurance policies. Both play an important role in keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape. Minor dents and dings all the way up to full-blown car crunching can be repaired, or the insurance company can at least pay out enough money to make you whole again.
Let's use the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy as an example to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two events that might have happened: 1) a heavy tree branch fell on your car, or 2) you swerved to avoid a falling tree branch and wound up crashing into a tree. In the first event, you had no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and ultimately swerved into the tree, which makes it a collision, and collision insurance therefore pays for the damages. Events like the hypothetical ones stated above are why it's important to differentiate between the two types of coverage.
Comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your car if it collides with something other than another car, like an animal or a tree, or if it’s damaged by vandalism, theft, or natural disaster. Again, if you lease your car or have an outstanding loan on it, this type of coverage will be required, but if you pay your car off, or it becomes worth less money than it would cost to repair, you can decline this coverage.
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Collision coverage is probably the most important coverage you need to have in order to protect your vehicle against physical damage. It is not difficult to accidentally hit something when driving. Somebody is always at fault, and that someone could be you. Some of the most significant damage to your vehicle can come from a collision with another vehicle, tree, pole or guardrail. In order to purchase collision coverage, you’ll need to purchase basic coverage as well. The higher your deductible (the amount you pay if you do get into a collision), the lower your monthly payments will often be — and this can be the best way to get the coverage you need and the savings you deserve at the same time.
The best car insurance companies have a few things in common: They have straightforward shopping experiences, take good care of policyholders after a crash and treat their customers with respect and courtesy. That means only insurers with high customer satisfaction scores and relatively few complaints to insurance commissioners make it to the top of our list of the best auto insurance companies.
Farmers has the fifth-largest market share in Texas at 8.2%. According to J.D. Power, Texans are more impressed with their Farmers claims experiences than they are with Allstate’s. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports readers expressed a bit more annoyance with the timeliness of their payments when comparing Farmers to State Farm and Allstate. Farmers’ financial strength is also a couple of notches lower than the rest. This doesn’t mean that the company's about to go bankrupt — it’s just the difference between “quite stable” and “completely rock-solid.”
It’s important to note that every company considers credit very differently, and even among insurers this factor fluctuates by state. For example, NerdWallet’s 2019 car insurance rate analysis indicates that while State Farm charges higher rates for poor credit in many states, it doesn’t seem to do so in Maine. Similar variations are true for many other companies as well.
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
Progressive has a few notable features worth highlighting — chief among them is their Snapshot safe driving program. Snapshot is a discount program that uses a telematics device, which is a $5 word that essentially means transmission. Via a plug-in device or Progressive's mobile app, drivers can elect to track their driving and have the information transmitted back to Progressive to analyze. You will be rewarded with policy discounts for safe driving habits, like staying within the speed limit, maintaining low mileage, avoiding late-night trips, hard breaks and phone usage. Progressive advertises an average discount of $145 for those who complete the program, which typically takes around six months.
Collision coverage has a deductible, which is the amount you pay before your coverage helps pay for your claim. You can typically choose the amount of your deductible when you buy coverage. So, if you choose a $1,000 deductible and your car is later damaged in a covered accident, you'd have to pay $1,000 toward repair costs. Your collision coverage would help pay the rest, up to your coverage limit.
Liability insurance covers you if you’re in an accident deemed to be your fault. It will cover repairs to damaged property, as well as medical bills resulting from injury to the other driver and their passengers. Most states require at least a minimum amount of liability insurance, but it’s a good idea to purchase extra protection if you can afford it.
While there are a couple of benefits of collision insurance, the main one is that you can file a claim and receive reimbursement regardless of who was at fault. Collision claims usually get processed faster than property damage claims because the insurance company does not have to spend time investigating who was at-fault. Another benefit is that you only deal with your own insurance company, rather than another insurer with less incentive to pay for your claim. Collision insurance can also be used toward your rental car in most cases, which can spare you from having to buy rental car insurance.
AAA is perhaps best known for its roadside assistance membership program. Membership comes with certain perks, like travel discounts and 24/7 emergency roadside assistance for things like battery replacement, flat tires, or tow away service. As a member, you can also purchase insurance policies from AAA. AAA’s auto insurance covers cars, motorcycles, boats and RVs, and you have the option to bundle your insurance with other policies like property and life insurance for a discounted rate.
Car insurance helps provide financial protection for you, and possibly others, if you are involved in an accident. Auto insurance for your vehicle is usually required by all states. Review our state car insurance guides to see the different laws and auto insurance minimum required coverages. You can customize your auto policy to fit your needs. There are different coverages and limits you can choose to create your auto insurance policy. Check out our car insurance coverage page to learn more about each type of coverage.