What Is Collision Coverage?

Last Updated on December 7, 2022

Collision coverage is pretty easy to understand. It’s coverage for damages to your car caused by an impact with another car or object. It covers damage to your vehicle in a number of situations. If you hit another vehicle, for example, this type of coverage would cover the damage to your car. If you skid out on a wet road and hit a tree, collision coverage would take care of repairing your car – minus the deductible.

Collision coverage is optional coverage, but if you lease or finance your car, your bank may require you to carry it.

collision coverage explainedCollision coverage and another type of coverage, comprehensive coverage, work together to cover a range of problems and can help fix or replace your car after it is damaged. While collision coverage covers damage to your vehicle from an accident, comprehensive coverage covers damage to your vehicle from non-accident scenarios, including storms, flooding, hail, vandalism, and theft.

Continue reading below to learn everything you need to know about collision coverage, including what it is, when you need it, how it differs from comprehensive coverage, and how to choose a deductible.

Quick Facts on Collision Coverage

  • Collision coverage can repair or replace your car after an accident
  • Collision coverage is usually optional unless you’re leasing or financing your car
  • You can choose the deductible you pay, which will affect your premium
  • Your coverage limit is maxed out at the actual cash value of your vehicle

Collision coverage can help repair or replace your car if you crash into another object or another vehicle or if you roll it over. This type of coverage is meant to fix up or replace your car after a wreck.

While collision coverage will pay for damage to your vehicle in an accident, property damage liability coverage is the type of coverage that pays for damage to the other person’s car. Comprehensive coverage, as stated above, is the coverage that will pay for damages to your vehicle that didn’t result from accidents.

Collision Coverage vs. Comprehensive Coverage

Collision coverage and comprehensive coverage go hand in hand. Most insurers require you to purchase comprehensive coverage if you purchase collision coverage.

To illustrate the difference between collision and comprehensive coverage, imagine a tree.

  • If you hit a tree, collision pays. If you are driving down the road, lose control of your vehicle, and hit a tree, collision coverage will pay. Collision coverage, as stated above, covers damage to your vehicle resulting from collisions with other vehicles or objects.
  • If a tree hits you, comprehensive pays. If a tree falls onto your vehicle during a storm, comprehensive coverage will pay. Comprehensive coverage pays for non-accident damages, including theft, vandalism, and hail.

Do You Need Collision Coverage?

As noted before, if your car isn’t paid off, your lender or leaseholder will probably require you to get collision coverage. If you don’t buy at least the minimum collision coverage mandated by your lender or lessor, they will buy it for you. This is called “force-placed” insurance, and the price will be rolled into your loan or lease. The premiums on this type of insurance can cost much more than if you go through your own insurer. Furthermore, coverage is often more limited. For instance, a lot of force-placed plans come with liability insurance coverage. Since liability insurance is usually mandated by your state, you could have your license suspended if you only had this type of plan. So, it’s a good idea to purchase your collision insurance policy if you need to do so.

Buy Collision Coverage If You Could Never Afford To Replace Your Car

Purchase collision coverage if you can’t afford to replace your car. Imagine someone darts in front of your car. You freak out, swerve, and hit a telephone pole, wrecking your car. Could you afford to replace your car? If you can’t afford to replace it, consider purchasing collision coverage. Purchasing even a basic policy could end up safeguarding your car and money.

Collision coverage is really important if your car is either new or very costly to repair. Your lender might require it if you took out a loan to get the car.

For an older or cheaper car, though, it probably doesn’t make much sense to purchase coverage because the cost can quickly add up to more than the vehicle is worth. You’re not legally required to purchase collision coverage. It is up to you whether you think you need it.

Remember that collision coverage only covers damage to your vehicle; it won’t provide coverage if you damage someone else’s car. That type of insurance – called property damage insurance – is part of your liability coverage, which is mandated for licensed drivers in nearly all states.

It works like this: If you’re the at-fault driver in an auto accident and damage both your car and the other person’s car, your collision coverage will pay to repair your car, and your property damage coverage will pay to repair their car.

Debating Your Collision Deductible

Collision coverage is usually subject to a deductible. If you are unfamiliar with what a deductible is, it’s the set amount you must pay for a claim before your insurance kicks in.

For example, let’s imagine you are driving down an icy street. You swerve off-road, crash into a telephone pole, and cause $7,000 in damage to your vehicle. If you have a collision deductible of $1,000, you will have to pay the repair company $1,000 first, and your insurer will pay the remaining $6,000.

Think about the size of the deductible you’re willing to go with. If your deductible is big (most insurance companies offer deductibles that range from $250 to $1,000), your premium won’t be as high. Remember, if you’re in a car crash, that deductible must be paid before you can get your car repaired, so pick a number you can afford.

So, go with a deductible you can afford and compare the premiums. Would you rather pay a little more each month to avoid paying a big deductible? If you have a great driving record and insurance claims history, the lower your deductible (and premiums) will be.

The cost will vary widely depending on many factors, including your car’s model, age, how much it’s worth currently, your age, and your gender.

Final Word on Collision Coverage

To recap, collision coverage will pay for damages to your car if:

  • You get into an accident with another vehicle
  • You hit a stationary object while driving
  • Somebody hits your parked car

Collision coverage is a good idea because almost every driver will get into a wreck at some point. Many people get into several collisions throughout their lives. Younger drivers should certainly have collision coverage.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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