Car Insurance 101: Collision vs. Comprehensive Coverage

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While Florida state law requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance, there are still many benefits to selecting a more solid coverage plan.

Having a strong car insurance policy can protect you from mounting financial trouble and harrowing lawsuits if your vehicle sustains damage, if you’re injured, if you injure someone else, or if you destroy their vehicle — whether or not you’re at-fault

While we previously explained the basics of car insurance, we’d like to go a step further and explain the difference between comprehensive and collision insurance. Though Floridians aren’t required by law to carry either plan, each has specific benefits. Far too many drivers don’t understand the difference between plans, which can lead to major problems down the road (pun intended). 

It is important to note that liability will cover the cost of another driver’s vehicle and belongings if you are found at fault in a crash, but liability insurance will pay nothing toward the damage to your own car, truck, or SUV. You will need a collision policy if you hope to have those expenses covered.

Before you back out of your driveway, consider what car insurance you carry and what it does to keep you protected.

Damaged vehicle with good insurance

What is collision car Insurance?

Collision insurance is a type of coverage that helps cover repairs, or even replace your vehicle, in the event of damage in a crash. Because collision insurance defends against any damage done to your vehicle, should you be involved in an accident with another vehicle or any stationary object, we highly recommend carrying it with your plan along with UM (Underinsured Motorist) and BI (Bodily Injury) coverage.

Whether you hit a telephone pole across the street, backed into a neighbor’s mailbox, or hit a tree after swerving to miss an obstacle in the road, you can rely on your collision insurance plan for coverage, in most cases.

While it’s important to note that if you are found at fault in a car crash, liability will cover the cost of another driver’s vehicle  and belongings, but not yours. You will need a collision policy if you hope to have the cost of damages to your own car, truck, or SUV covered.

What does collision car insurance cover?

What it covers your car during:  

  • Collisions with one or more vehicles
  • Collisions with objects (fences, trees, telephone poles, etc.)
  • Single-auto accidents that involve cars rolling or falling over
  • Hitting obstructions—i.e., potholes—in the road

What it doesn’t cover:

  • Damage not related to driving (i.e., hail damage, broken windows or theft)
  • Animal damage (i.e., hitting a deer)
  • Damage to another person’s vehicle (liability insurance covers this)
  • Medical bills (yours, your passengers’, other drivers’ or their passengers’)

Do I need collision car insurance?

The answer to this question depends on how old your car is, how long you’ve had it, if you’re still making payments on it, and whether or not you can afford to buy a new car if it’s damaged or totaled.

If you couldn’t afford to buy a new car if it were damaged in an accident, the extra few hundred dollars you’d spend on collision insurance would likely be worth it in the long haul.

While we are not able to find any states that currently require collision coverage, most car dealers will require you to purchase some variation of this plan if you are financing or leasing your car.

Keep in mind that if the car dealer requires collision insurance and you neglect to purchase it, they will tack it onto your monthly payment plan. Otherwise known as “force-placed” insurance, where you could pay up to five times more on this premium, so we recommend purchasing this coverage through an insurer of your choice.

What is comprehensive car insurance?

In Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company v. Cramer, the difference between collision and comprehensive insurance were clearly distinguished. Whereas collision coverage included most situations where a car collides with the driver’s property or someone else’s, comprehensive coverage has little to do with car accidents. 

Comprehensive insurance is a type of coverage that helps cover repairs, or even replace your vehicle if it is stolen or damaged in an incident that’s not a collision with another vehicle. This is the policy written to handle the many types of damage that can be done, which do not fall under the “collision” category.

In a nutshell, comprehensive insurance covers any damage from fire, vandalism, fallen objects, or damage from hitting animals that run into the road. Because it covers an entire realm of possibility not touched on by collision insurance, we highly recommend carrying a comprehensive insurance policy as well.

What does comprehensive car insurance cover?

  • Damage from storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and hailstorms
  • Fires & explosions
  • Vandalism and theft
  • Damage from impacts with animals, such as a deer
  • Broken or shattered windows or windshield
  • Falling objects
  • Acts of terrorism

What it doesn’t cover

  • Damage from a collision with another vehicle
  • Collision damage to another person’s vehicle 
  • Medical bills (yours, your passengers’, other drivers’ or their passengers’)

Do I need comprehensive car insurance?

Much like collision insurance, you can opt to drop your comprehensive insurance plan, but be warned: dropping this plan means you will not be covered in the event your car sustains “act of god” damage.

Comprehensive coverage is also not required to own a vehicle, but you should consider keeping it, especially as anything could happen. If you’re no longer making payments on your car, have the means to pay out of pocket for any damage, or can even purchase a new car, you can insure your vehicle as you please.

However, much like collision insurance, auto dealers will require you to purchase a comprehensive insurance plan, and will also force-place a plan onto your monthly car payment if you fail to secure a plan by a deadline.

When can I drop my collision and comprehensive plans?

Deciding to drop your collision and comprehensive plans depends solely on your financial situation, your vehicle’s age, whether you recently purchased it, are no longer making payments, or simply have the means to pay more, should something happen.

According to Florida Statute:

There are many reasons someone might decide to drop their collision and comprehensive insurance plans. The first is simple: affordability. Car insurance as it is can get fairly expensive, and tacking on two additional coverage options can put a dent in your pocket.

The second reason someone could opt to drop their collision and comprehensive coverage? Value. If you’re paying too much for insurance — say, more than the value of your car — it is safe to drop your plan. However, if you don’t plan on buying a new car, or if you don’t want to pay the out-of-pocket cost for damages, we suggest holding these premiums tight.

All in all, consider your driving habits, your record, the safety features included in your car, and how often you drive. This is not to say, however, that your car won’t get damaged sitting idly in your driveway.

If you’re like most Americans, you don’t have a plethora of savings dedicated to car replacements. Downgrading to regular insurance is always an option, but there are many car insurance claims issues that could arise. That’s what we’re here for.

Trust our legal experts to fight your car insurance company

Whether your claim was denied, underpaid, or if you experienced personal injury at the hands of a negligent or uninsured driver, you don’t need to dispute your insurance company alone.

Our expert legal team at Herman & Wells is well-versed in tackling the many nuances of insurance companies, and we’re here to fight for you, from free consultation to the courtroom. Better yet, we won’t accept a payment unless we win you a settlement.