Comprehensive vs. Collision Coverage

How to know which is better for auto coverage: comp or collision

Damaged bumpers from car accident requiring a collision coverage policy
••• Peter Stark / Getty Images

If you’ve recently purchased a new vehicle, you know that to drive in most states, you need to purchase a basic type of car insurance, but you may be overwhelmed by your coverage options. Comprehensive and collision are the two types of physical damage coverage available on car insurance policies. Both play an important role in keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape.

Minor dents and dings up to full-blown car crunching can be repaired, or the insurance company can at least pay out enough money to make you whole again. Compare the two types of coverage to help determine what you need to protect your vehicle.

The Difference Between Comprehensive and Collision Coverage

Both comprehensive and collision coverage benefit you when damage to your car occurs. The difference, though, is that comprehensive insurance helps pay to repair or replace your vehicle if it's damaged or stolen in an incident that is not a collision. While collision, like the name implies, covers the costs of damage caused by a collision.


Regardless of the type of car you drive or where you drive it, by owning and operating a vehicle and driving it on public roads, your car is vulnerable to all types of losses and damages. These are hazards to both yourself and others on the road and their property.

Though you’re probably most concerned with accidents, your vehicle can also be damaged by acts of weather such as falling tree limbs, hail, vandalism, or even invasion of creepy crawlers, especially if you park outside or on the street.

Think of comprehensive coverage as an all-encompassing insurance option that protects your vehicle against physical damage caused by anything other than a collision—and protects you from paying for it. Comprehensive coverage covers a broad spectrum of potential physical damage claims, and can be used for the following.

  • In combination with any other coverage or even as stand-alone coverage.
  • Repairs to glass, including windshield chips or cracks.
  • Covers contact with an animal, most commonly deer.
  • Protects against storm damage, including wind, hail, and flood.
  • Repairs damage from vandals keying your car, breaking into your car, or even theft.
  • Often offers a reasonably priced coverage with a low deductible.


Collision coverage is probably the most important coverage you need to have to protect your vehicle against physical damage. It is not difficult to accidentally hit something when driving. Somebody is always at fault, and that someone could be you.

To purchase collision coverage, you’ll need to purchase basic coverage as well.

Some of the most significant damage to your vehicle can come from a collision with another vehicle, tree, pole, or guardrail. And the higher your deductible—the out-of-pocket amount you pay if you do get into a collision—the lower your monthly payments will often be. Raising your deductible can be the best way to get the coverage you need and the savings you deserve at the same time.

  • Collision coverage can only be purchased when combined with liability and, in many cases, comprehensive coverage.
  • Collision repairs damage when two vehicles in drive or reverse collide with each other.
  • It covers damage to your vehicle when you hit ice and slide into an inanimate object.
  • Collision covers pothole damage.
  • Collision coverage can get expensive, so to lower costs, most people choose a $500 deductible or higher.

The “Best” Physical Damage Car Insurance Coverage

For some, the best coverage is the cheapest—often bare-bones—car insurance policy that allows them to drive on the road legally. For others, the best coverage might be the more costly option to cover the full cost of vehicle repairs on a claim. The only way to be certain you are fully protected is to purchase both comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Each coverage has its job to do.

Comprehensive claims are a little more common because more people carry comprehensive coverage on their vehicles. It is the cheaper of the two types of physical damage coverage. Plus, comprehensive coverage addresses the animal- and weather-related damages that are so prevalent when it comes to vehicles.

Collision coverage is there for you when you make a mistake. It is very frustrating to cause damage to your vehicle. Having it covered by your insurance policy can help make you feel a little better.

When selecting coverage for your vehicle, the biggest thing to consider is the cost of the coverage versus the value of your vehicle and the potential costs of repairs. Once you determine you can cover the damages out of your pocket, you can evaluate options to save money on your car insurance by reducing coverage.