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Comprehensive vs. Collision Coverage

When automotive travel picks up, so does car accident frequency, new data reveals.
When automotive travel picks up, so do car accidents.

Your car is getting a little older, or you’re adding a teenage driver and car to your policy, and you’re considering changing up your automotive coverage. But what’s something that you can save on that won’t cost you big bucks if there’s an accident?

As noted by the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA), the costs on average for auto accidents are pretty costly:

  • In 2013, the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,231; the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,443 (ISO, a Verisk Analytics company).
  • In 2013, the average collision claim was $3,144; the average comprehensive claim was $1,621 (ISO, a Verisk Analytics company).

You must get some form of insurance when you own a vehicle. That’s a given. But there are two factors that you can adjust, depending on a few factors. They’re the Comprehensive and the Collision coverage. We can break them down easily:

Comprehensive:  Covers fire, theft, vandalism, hitting an animal, or being struck by falling objects (like a tree or something flying off another vehicle), plus glass damage.

Collision: Covers costs when you collide with a fixed object, like another vehicle. The collision price is the deductible, say, $500, which you pay first and then the insurance company will pay the rest to repair your own car.

NOTE: Collision coverage does not cover the costs to repair the other car or any property that was damaged. That cost is covered under another part of your car insurance policy under “bodily injury and property damage.”

Auto insurance is always about covering yourself with the risk you take when you’re on the road, remarked Darla Avery, Sales Executive, Personal Insurance, PayneWest.

“With every state there’s a minimum limit of liability,” said Avery. “At PayneWest we pride ourselves on not just writing a policy to the minimum limit.”

Avery notes that some states you can have medical coverage on your vehicle with your policy. This might mean tens of thousands of dollars of medical coverage that you can have for just an additional dollar or two a month.

“The costs of an emergency room visit is a drop in the bucket compared to long-term care in the ICU,” noted Avery. “This isn’t to scare you, but just give you something to think about when you’re working to get your coverage right with an agent.”

“New findings from the Insurance Research Council’s (IRC) Auto Injury Insurance Claims Study shows that medical expenses reported by auto injury claimants continue to increase faster than the rate of inflation, in spite of the fact that the severity of the injuries themselves remain on a downward trend,” noted RMIIA.

Avery pointed out that things a great agent will ask about when you’re deciding on an automotive policy aren’t the value of the car, like you might think.

“We ask, ‘Do you have enough money in your savings account, or on hand, to go out and purchase a new car if you don’t’ have any collision coverage?'” she said. “You can probably afford a $500 deductible but not the $3,000 to go buy a new car. And the difference you’re paying each month is probably around $10.”

Ultimately, it’s up to you to consider your risk and work with an agent that will keep your well being in mind, as well as your budget.

“Some agents might just write up the policy without talking to the client about their lives and what would be best for them,” she said. “I like to say, ‘Use your head! Don’t let others influence your driving!”


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