Comprehensive vs. Collision Insurance Coverage in 2021

By | November 8, 2021
Comprehensive vs. collision insurance coverage

What is comprehensive coverage?


Comprehensive vs. collision insurance coverage

I’m going to start by saying that comprehensive insurance is not comprehensive.

If I had worked at Travelers Insurance in 1898 when they were bringing collisions and extensive coverage, I would have named them “accident” and “incident” insurance. At least those labels would be a little less confusing.

So what is “broad,” aka event insurance?

Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle that occurs outside of the context of an accident, such as:


  • Nature’s work – flood damage, hail, falling trees, lightning, etc.
  • Crimes – theft, vandalism, finding keys, etc.
  • Miscellaneous damage – fire, explosion, hit by deer, breaking during riots, etc.

Here’s a way to put it this way: If a collision covers the damage you cause, it does cover the damage you find. If your car is damaged while parked and you are not hit by another driver, it is probably covered by comprehensive insurance.

My roommate Clark and I have both filed extensive-related claims in college. In both cases, we approached our car and muttered a string of four-letter words.

In his case, someone from the upper dorm threw a water balloon into the parking lot below. They must have assumed that it would innocently splatter in someone’s car – no! It explodes through Clark’s windshield and spills water into his center console, frying his CPU and knocking the car out.

My story is much shorter; Someone gave me my car keys in my dorm parking lot. To this day, I have no doubt. I can’t really name a person who I think would do such a disgusting, low-life job (still bitter).

That being said there are some situations where you can drive your car, maintain damage and cover extensively, not collision insurance.

If your car is damaged by nature or vandalized while you are driving, it is largely covered because it was not technically part of an auto accident.

What is collision coverage?

Collision coverage helps cover the cost of repairing your car after an auto accident.

Collision fills a significant gap in property damage liability (PDL) coverage. Drivers in 48 states will have to carry the PDL so that errant drivers can bear the cost for their losses.

Without minimum insurance laws, the roads would be full of uninsured drivers and the chances of you getting hit by someone who could never pay you back would be too high.

  1. That’s why states need PDLs, but they don’t need conflicts because:
  2. It’s really expensive.
  3. The government doesn’t really care about the damage you do to your own car.

That being said, the line between where the PDL ends and the collision begins can be a bit confusing, so let’s look at a few examples:

Scenario 1: You hit another driver

  • What property damage liability covers: damage to their car.
  • What the collision covers: Damage to your car and your premium will likely increase.

Scenario 2: You are hit by an uninsured motorist

  • What property damage liability covers: None.
  • Key collisions cover damage to your car and will not increase your premiums.

Scenario 3: You are hit by an insured motorist

  • What property damage liability covers: None.
  • What the collision covers: Nothing (you will be liable for damage to other drivers’ property).

Scenario 4: You are hit by an insured motorist, but will not pay their insurance

  • What property damage liability covers: None.
  • What conflicts cover: (potential) The difference between the actual cost of payment and repairs.

Scene 5: You hit a stationary object (parked car, fence, etc.)

  • What covers liability for property damage: The cost of replacing or repairing another person’s property.
  • What the collision covers: Damage to your car and your premium will likely increase.
Comprehensive vs. Collision Insurance

Comprehensive vs. Collision Insurance

My favorite example of a conflict insurance claim is that my friend Jack filed for his Cadillac. That night some fast, windy winds were crossing rural roads and suddenly hit a two-foot rock set just outside the white line.

He collected a police report and filed a collision claim, and since the rock bent its frame, his delivery car collapsed. In his push, he also received a quote for “destroying church property”.

He challenged it in court using pictures of the accident, the church was ordered to remove the sacred rock and its supplier did not raise its premium.

So it is conflict insurance. In short, it covers damage to your vehicle after a collision, where liability for property damage will not be paid. In its most basic form, collision insurance protects you from damage to your own car.

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