Collision vs. Comprehensive – Which Auto Insurance to Buy?

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Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach Sara Routhier

Cynthia Lanctot is an insurance professional with ten years of industry experience. Cynthia is licensed in several states, and holds an associate in claims law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English. Cynthia’s experience includes the New England and Northeast states. She currently works as a liability claims professional and an occasional online contributor.

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Reviewed by Cynthia Lanctot
Licensed Agent Cynthia Lanctot

UPDATED: Mar 15, 2022

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If you are not familiar with the difference between comprehensive and collision insurance, it will be difficult to understand which auto insurance to buy. Whether you have ever had car insurance or not, you still may be new to understanding the difference between the two. Typically, you may need a comprehensive or “full coverage” policy if you are financing your vehicle; the law requires every driver to carry at least basic liability insurance.

Many drivers at some point want to upgrade the coverage they have; the trick is learning how much is enough, without getting too much. To make some of these important decisions about purchasing an auto insurance policy, it is a good idea to get an idea of what each policy does for drivers.

Is collision the auto insurance to buy?

While most states require drivers to carry at least liability car insurance to be behind the wheel of a car legally, having more is a better idea. Of course, making sure you have the minimum amount is important to avoid driving illegally and incurring expenses related to this. Yet when it comes to driving having more car insurance to protect yourself on the roads is always a good idea.

So what is the basic guide to what collision insurance covers?

  • Collision auto insurance covers both you as the driver, and the other person in a collision accident in which you are deemed at fault. Collision is a step up from liability insurance because liability only covers the other party and not your own accident related expenses.
  • The policy is designed to cover your vehicle and that of the other driver in the event of an accident that is the result of a collision. Whether the vehicles require repair or must be totaled out and replaced it may be covered, depending on the amount of coverage you get.
  • Collision car insurance also covers medical expenses resulting from a collision related accident for both parties involved. This is extremely important for those who do not have health insurance that could take care of medical related expenses.

There are some important things to keep in mind about collision insurance when it comes to deciding which auto insurance to buy. The main thing to know is that collision generally covers only what the name implies, which is damage and expenses that result from an accident that is the result of a collision usually only with an inanimate object. Drivers who have an accident with another vehicle, a building or another inanimate object will have coverage.

Of course, this also leaves a good many gaps in your coverage because there are a lot more expensive things that can happen to your car that collision auto insurance does not include. Even if you have a collision that involves damage caused by a deer while driving on the interstate, more than likely your collision auto insurance policy will not cover it.

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The Comprehensive Guide to Comprehensive Insurance


Some drivers consider comprehensive car insurance the auto coverage policy that picks up where collision leaves off. In fact, even for those who want coverage for a collision involving something other than an inanimate object, comprehensive is the auto insurance to buy.

Some of the other details surrounding comprehensive auto insurance are:

  • Comprehensive generally covers auto insurance covers everything aside from collision with an inanimate object including damage to your vehicle and medical related expenses.
  • This is a popular choice for those who want coverage against forces of nature and Acts of God. In instances where automobile owners are concerned about damage that could result from storms or an incident such as a tree falling on the car, will probably want to consider adding this type of car insurance.
  • Comprehensive car insurance coverage usually also includes damage caused by fires, explosions, riots and vandalism. Even if your car is stolen and not able to be recovered, most comprehensive policies cover this. This is especially important for drivers behind the wheel of a new and financed vehicle.

What are the differences and similarities between these types of insurance?

While this is meant to give you a general idea of what is involved when it comes to which auto insurance policy to buy, there are still leaves some gaps to fill in about what exactly the differences and similarities are between the two types of policies.

Some of the similarities between collision insurance and comprehensive coverage include:

  • The deductible must first be met before your car insurance policy pays expenses. The higher the deductible the lower the premium costs, so you should consider this when shopping for auto insurance quotes.
  • Both are often required to satisfy lenders when it comes to making sure your car is covered in the event of a financed loan. Meeting the guidelines set in place by your lender is crucial in order to avoid having pricy policy coverage tacked on by the financial lending institute itself.
  • The amount of coverage you have may cost you a few extra dollars on your premium but is also important for making sure you get the full amount of coverage you want. If you are concerned about covering the cost of your car and all of the medical bills related to injuries from an accident, make sure you get all the coverage you want.

The main differences include:

  • Collision auto insurance covers only accidents with inanimate objects, while comprehensive coverage goes above and beyond this more basic coverage.
  • If you have only collision and your car is stolen, you could be left paying for a vehicle you no longer have as a victim of theft. Comprehensive coverage can help you cover the costs of a stolen vehicle if a theft occurs.
  • Even an accident with an animate object such as a deer or a larger animal, or stationary object like a parked vehicle or mailbox, is generally not covered with collision car insurance. If you want more extensive coverage add comprehensive to your policy and get more for your premium dollars.

To shop for quotes for comprehensive insurance or collision coverage, you can get everything you need by just using your zip code. When it comes to which auto insurance company to buy comprehensive insurance from to protect yourself as a driver, let the quotes help you with your decision-making.

In conclusion, both collision coverage and comprehensive coverage provide protection against different things. It’s up to you to decide how much risk you are willing to accept, or how likely you are to be able to afford the repairs on your own automobile that collision coverage is for. You have to ask yourself about the different types of coverages and decide what is best for you.

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