Blog » collision

Comprehensive & Collision Coverage 101

The following guest post is written by Neil Richardson, an advisor for The Zebra, which is the nation’s largest car insurance comparison marketplace. An insurance nerd through and through, Neil has helped tens of thousands of customers understand and secure auto insurance with his expertise and unique knack for translating complex industry jargon into plain English.

When you are insuring a valuable asset like your vehicle, you want to be aware of the ins and outs of your policy before you give your payment information, not at a crucial time like a claim. “Full coverage” is often used as a blanket statement to describe an insurance policy with comprehensive and collision coverage, but it isn’t that simple. Understanding your coverage before something happens will help you avoid a potentially disastrous outcome like being stranded on the road because you thought your “full coverage” policy provided roadside assistance or medical coverage when it may not.


So, What Is “Comprehensive and Collision” Anyway?

Physical damage coverage, which is the part of your auto policy that covers your vehicle, is described as “comprehensive and collision.” Technically, they are two separate types of coverage, though they are often coupled, and they extend beyond state minimum liability insurance requirements (which cover the other driver in a collision).

When you finance a vehicle, you are required to carry both comprehensive and collision coverage, and this is normally when you will be told that you need a “full coverage” policy. Lenders require this coverage in addition to the state minimum because it will cover your vehicle against damage due to accidents (collision coverage) and many scenarios other than accidents (comprehensive coverage), which is important to those lenders since you don’t yet own the car outright.

Comprehensive coverage is a catch-all for incidents that aren’t considered “accidents” like hail, flooding, or vandalism damage. When getting an insurance quote, you will need to choose a deductible amount. If you are financing your vehicle, then you will want to confirm what deductible option you are required to carry based on your loan paperwork. The option you select is the amount that you agree to cover (read: pay) if you have to file a claim. Once your deductible has been paid, then the insurance company will fix the remaining amount of damage.

The Art of Selecting Your Deductible

Most people who have comprehensive and collision on their policy will carry $500 deductibles, but there are many other deductible options which typically range from $250-$1,000. The total cost of an insurance policy is often largely dependent on the deductible selected. The lower the deductible, the more expensive the policy, but also the less you will have to pay if something happens to your car. Most agents will let you know what the difference in premium looks like among the options so you can decide which one makes the most sense for your situation.

Did you know that a number of insurance companies (including Metromile) also allow you to select individual deductible options for comprehensive and collision? Generally speaking, collision coverage is much more expensive than comprehensive, so you may consider having a $500 deductible for collision but select a $250 option for comprehensive and only see a slight difference in your premium. The important thing to keep in mind is that you have options. Editor’s note: If you are considering switching to Metromile, our licensed agents are happy to help determine the best coverage and deductibles for your needs!

The Rundown on Car Insurance Coverage Levels

When getting a new car insurance quote (or revisiting your current policy coverage), it might be tempting to choose coverage levels that result in the lowest monthly bill. But if paying for insurance equates to paying for peace of mind, it might be worth it in the long term to add additional protection. Read on for a breakdown of various coverage options and how to choose the right levels for your needs.


This is the minimum coverage level required for most U.S. drivers. If you are at-fault in an accident, your insurance policy will cover vehicle damage and/or bodily injuries to the other party (at the levels you choose). Each state has minimum required liability limits, but you might consider purchasing a policy with higher limits to ensure you’re better protected, even if your policy might cost a bit more. If the damage caused in an accident exceeds your coverage limits, you could be held responsible for the remainder of the costs.

Comp & Collision
In addition to liability coverage, you can elect to add comprehensive and/or collision insurance, often known as “full coverage.” Comp and collision coverages are technically separate but are often discussed together. With collision coverage, in the event that you’re in an accident, your insurance policy will cover damage to your car (per the terms of the policy). Comprehensive coverage means you are covered if anything happens to your car where no one is at fault (per the terms of the policy) like a tree falls on it or there is weather damage. If you often park your car outside, this could be an important add-on to your policy. Keep in mind that the lower the deductible you choose, the higher the premium might be, but also the less you will have to pay if something happens.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments
PIP will protect you (and your passengers) against personal injury by covering medical expenses. In some states, PIP is a “no fault” coverage which means that you will still be covered even if you are determined to be at fault. Note that PIP coverage varies based on state, and if it isn’t available, then you’ll likely have the option to choose Medical Payments coverage. Both PIP and Medical Payments coverage are similar, though PIP typically provides a much broader spectrum of coverage. Medical Payments usually covers only medical bills for you and your passengers, whereas PIP will often extend to cover additional things like income loss, funeral expenses and essential services.

Roadside Assistance
In addition to getting access to an on-call tow truck, roadside assistance can also provide you with flat tire changes, battery jump starts, locksmith services and more. If you love road trips, this might be a smart coverage for you! At Metromile, adding roadside assistance is typically much cheaper than using an external company like AAA.

If you don’t drive much, we’ve found that customers are saving a ton of money after switching to pay-per-mile insurance. That means that you can get all of the coverage needed to give you peace-of-mind, and still save money. To see how much you could save, get a quick quote now.