Full coverage car insurance is not a special policy type but rather a term that usually means a policy with liability, collision and comprehensive coverage.
Liability insurance: For accidents that you’re at fault, liability insurance covers the cost of the other party’s injuries and car repairs. It also pays for your legal defense if you’re sued for the car accident.
Collision insurance: Covers the cost to repair your vehicle but doesn’t cover the cost of the other party’s vehicle damage. Collision insurance can pay for vehicle damage from another car hitting yours, or a situation where you accidentally back into a pole or accelerate into a building.
Comprehensive insurance: Covers car theft and damage to your car related to weather, fire, flood, vandalism and falling objects. It also covers damage from hitting animals such as deer.
These coverage types make a solid starting point for good auto insurance.
Full Coverage Car Insurance Summary
Liability Collision Comprehensive
Pays for others’ damage if you crash into their cars ✓
Covers your car damage if you hit a pole, fence, house or other object ✓
Pays other people if you hit their fence, house or other property ✓
Covers theft of your car ✓
Covers your car for fire, flood, vandalism and animal collisions ✓
Covers your car damage from falling objects such as tree branches ✓
How Much is Full Coverage Car Insurance?
Nationwide, car owners spend an average of $935.80 a year on their auto insurance, a number that includes both minimal and high coverage choices.
The liability portion of an auto insurance policy is generally the most expensive component.
Coverage Average premium nationwide per year
Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 2018 Auto Insurance Database Report
Components of Full Coverage Car Insurance
Knowing what type of coverage you need isn’t always easy to figure out. Here’s a breakdown of how each coverage type works.
All states except New Hampshire require car owners to purchase a minimum amount of liability car insurance. These minimum state requirements outline two types of liability insurance:
Bodily injury liability insurance covers the medical expenses of another party if you’re at fault.
Property damage liability insurance covers damage done to another person’s property that you crashed into. This could include someone else’s car, mailbox, fence, garden gnome collection or building.
For example, let’s say you ran a stop sign and collided with a man driving a Toyota Camry. The vehicle needs some repairs and he required a few stitches to his forehead. Since you were at fault, liability insurance would cover the cost to repair his car and his medical expenses — both up to the coverage limits of your policy.
If you purchased low limits and injuries or damage exceed your limit, you can still be sued for the rest. That’s why buying a high level of liability insurance is a smart move, especially if you have savings or other assets that make you an attractive lawsuit target.
Consider at least liability limits with $100,000 in bodily injury liability per person, and $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 and up for property damage liability. Drivers with high incomes and/or significant assets should consider higher amounts in case someone decides to sue, plus umbrella insurance.
Does Liability Insurance Cover My Car If Someone Hits Me?
Your own liability insurance only pays others for damage you do. It will not pay anything for your own car or your injuries.
If someone else causes an accident, their liability insurance should cover your car damage and injuries. But the other person’s insurance will only pay up the limits they bought. If the accident was expensive, their insurance may not be enough to cover all your bills.
In addition, many drivers hit the road without any auto insurance at all. If they crash into you, they have no insurance to pay for the damage they cause. You can sue another driver who causes a crash, but not all drivers have assets to use to pay for a lawsuit judgment.
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
Collision and comprehensive coverage are important for covering damage to your own car. Your liability insurance won’t pay for any of your car damage. If you own your vehicle outright then this coverage is optional. Expect to have to buy them if you have a car loan or lease.
Collison covers pay for damages to your car from crashes with any object, such as a pole or guardrail. Comprehensive coverage pays for car theft and repairs due to weather, animal damage, vandalism, fire, flood and falling objects
For example, let’s say your car tires slipped on ice and you and ran into your neighbor’s fence. Collision coverage would pay for the repairs to your vehicle. Liability insurance would pay for the neighbor’s fence.
If you drove across a flooded street without realizing how deep it was, comprehensive coverage would pay for car damage.
Collision and comprehensive coverage both have a deductible, such as $500 or $1,000. That’s the amount of money deducted from an insurance check if you make a claim.