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Understanding Comprehensive and Collision Coverage

After an accident, every state requires its citizens to be financially responsible for the injuries or damages caused to the other parties and their property. However, no state requires its drivers to carry insurance for the damage they cause to their own vehicles. When it comes to the state, comprehensive and collision coverage plans are optional and required only in certain non-state related situations.


Comprehensive auto insurance protects your vehicle from non-accident related damages such as a fire, theft, acts of nature and damage done by animals. This also includes damages such as dings or scratches that can occur while your car is parked. With some insurance carriers comprehensive coverage also provides glass repair and replacement for broken or shattered windows. This is a not at-fault coverage which is only used when it is determined that you personally hold no responsibility for the damage.


Collision coverage is, in essence, the at-fault physical damage coverage. It insures your vehicle against damages caused by your negligence, whether or not the accident involves another vehicle, object or property. Similar to comprehensive, collision coverage repairs or replaces the vehicle up to its fair market value.


Comprehensive coverage can be added to the policy without collision coverage. However, collision coverage can only be added to the auto insurance policy when the coverage is complimented by comprehensive coverage. As the policyholder, you are required to select a deductible for these coverages which must be paid at the time of the claim’s payout. The deductible options range from $250 to $1000 and can even include a $0 or $1500 deductible, depending on the carrier.

The Cost

Like every aspect of an auto insurance policy, the cost of comprehensive and collision coverage varies based on the policy’s specifics. Factors such as the driver’s age, driving history, claims history and the type of car you drive can have varying affects on the cost of each policy. The deductible that you choose for your physical damage coverage can help to reduce the policy’s overall premium. The deductible is designed to reduce the insurance carrier’s risk in the policy. Therefore, if you select higher deductibles such as $500 or $1,000, you reduce the insurance carrier’s risk which in turn, reduces your overall policy premium.

Who Needs It

Not every policyholder needs physical damages coverage, but many do. If you lease or finance your vehicle, in most cases your financial institution will require you to carry these physical damage coverages. In many situations, the institutions may also dictate the deductible amounts you can select. It is important to review the financing contract to ensure that all stipulations are met. Failure to comply with these insurance requirements can result in a forfeiture of the contract.

Policyholders who own their vehicles may also consider these physical damage coverages. Though not required, this coverage helps to protect the policyholder’s paid interest in the vehicle. Consider the value of the vehicle and the costs involved if repair or replacements are necessary. While nicks and dings may not be a concern, a vehicle theft or fire may cause devastation if funds are not readily available to replace the missing or totaled vehicle.

The Deer

Deer have caused many vehicle accidents throughout the years. In 2005, State Farm reported that deer versus car crashes caused more than $1 billion in damages, along with 150 motorist deaths. Of the 50 U.S. states, the insurance carrier also reported that Pennsylvania was most affected by deer collisions, followed by Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Georgia. Unfortunately, as the deer population increases the statistics rise. A collision with a deer even at moderate speeds can quickly total a vehicle and cause devastating injury. As you consider physical damage coverage, consider the environment you live in and the likelihood of seeing a deer on the side of the road on your way home from work. If you’ve seen even one deer while driving, you have the potential to be involved in a deer collision.

There is a common misconception that follows the deer accident. Many people assume that if you crash your vehicle because of a deer it is automatically a comprehensive claim. However, this is only accurate if you actually hit the deer. If you swerve to avoid the deer and hit a tree or another vehicle or object the insurance claim becomes a collision claim caused by your negligent action. As a result, you are also responsible for any damages that you have caused to another person or their property. It may sound harsh, but if you encounter a deer, don’t swerve. Brace yourself and brake hard. And, of course, always wear your seatbelt.