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Collision vs. Comprehensive Coverage - What's the Difference?

Collision and comprehensive are always talked about together, but do you know what each cover and how they are different? Didn't think so. Read below to find out more.

First, the Similarities...

Collision and comprehensive coverages are often lumped together because:

  • They both protect you against physical damage to your vehicle.
  • Neither coverages are required by any state, but more than 70% of all drivers in the U.S. carry both coverages.
  • If you are leasing your car or borrowed money to finance your car, your lender or lessor will most likely require you to carry both coverages to protect the value of the collateral on their loan or lease (your car).
  • Both coverages general include a deductible, which is the amount of money you pay out of pocket toward covering the loss.
  • Your premiums for both coverages are based in part on the make, model and year of your car, since the policies cover you for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.

...Now, for the Differences

Collision coverage provides coverage for physical damage to your car resulting from:

  • Hitting another vehicle
  • Crashing into something during operation of your vehicle (e.g., a telephone pole)
  • Turning over. 

Comprehensive coverage is often called "other than collision" for good reason - it generally protects you from damage to your vehicle from almost everything else. Specifically, comprehensive covers damage to you car from the following:

  • Glass breakage
  • Fire
  • Wind
  • Vandalism
  • Missiles or falling objects
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Theft
  • Contact with bird or animal (includes collision with deer or moose)
  • Hail, water or flood
  • Explosion or earthquake

What Comprehensive Does Not Cover

When someone breaks into your car and steals your personal property not permanently attached to your vehicle, such as your wallet, cell phone or purse, your comprehensive coverage will not reimburse you for the value of such items (your homeowners or renters policy typically will). But, any damage the thief caused to your vehicle in breaking into your car - scratches, broken window, broken lock, etc. - will be covered.

It gets a bit confusing, and policy-specific, when talking about stereo equipment. Custom parts or equipment are items that are permanently attached or installed to your vehicle are covered. So, if you have a stereo where the entire unit (not just the face plate) can be detached from your vehicle, the stereo would not be considered part of the vehicle and hence not covered by your comprehensive policy (but instead by your homeowners or renters policy).