What is full coverage car insurance?
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You may have heard the term “full coverage” being used to refer to some car insurance policies, but do you know what full coverage is? Full coverage insurance typically means that your auto insurance policy includes coverage for damage to your own vehicle. In the United States, a full coverage policy costs an average of $1,771 per year. Bankrate explains the intricacies of full coverage so you can decide if this type of insurance is right for you.
What is full coverage insurance?
Full coverage car insurance means that you have coverage for damage to your vehicle. Most states require you to purchase at least minimum levels of liability coverage, and some also require you to carry additional coverage types like personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured motorist coverage.
A basic full coverage auto insurance policy includes the coverage types needed to protect your finances from the expense of repairing or replacing your vehicle. State minimum liability limits do not serve this purpose.
So what is full coverage car insurance specifically? Generally, full coverage means that you have these coverage types on your policy:
- Bodily injury liability: When you are at fault for an accident and the driver or passengers in the other vehicle sustain injuries, your bodily injury liability coverage could help pay their medical expenses.
- Property damage liability: If you cause an auto accident, your property damage liability coverage is designed to help pay to repair or replace the driver’s vehicle. Damage that you cause to other property — like road signs, fences or buildings — is also typically covered.
- Collision: If you collide with something like another vehicle, a tree or a pole, your collision coverage will help pay to repair or replace your vehicle.
- Comprehensive: Often called “other-than-collision,” this section of your policy covers damage to your vehicle caused by a wide array of situations, including theft, vandalism, storm damage and animal damage.
These are the basic coverage types included in a full coverage auto policy. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that “full coverage” is not an industry-standard term. This means that the full coverage definition varies. Each car insurance company — and even different agencies — could have a different definition of what’s included in a full coverage policy. Here are some additional coverage types that are sometimes considered part of full coverage:
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist: If you are hit by a driver who does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages, these options could help pay for your injuries and the injuries of a passenger. Depending on the state you live in, you might also be able to add uninsured motorist property damage, which will cover damage to your car caused by uninsured motorists. Some states require one or both of these coverage types.
- Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP): Both of these coverage types help to pay for your medical bills and those of your passengers if you are injured in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault. PIP also helps pay for lost wages and the cost of certain household services if you are unable to perform them. In some states, you will be required to purchase medical payments or PIP by law. In others, one or both of these may be available as an option.
- Roadside assistance: This optional coverage is often considered part of a full coverage package. It provides coverage for towing, lockout services, tire changes, battery jump starts for gas-powered vehicles, battery charges for electric vehicles and other situations that could strand you on the side of the road.
- Car rental reimbursement: If your vehicle is not driveable due to a covered loss, this optional coverage could help to pay for the cost of a rental vehicle.
Although these coverage selections could be optional, depending on where you live, some companies will automatically include one or more on a full coverage car insurance policy.
How much does full coverage insurance cost?
The average cost of a full coverage auto policy in the United States costs $1,771 per year. Because of the additional protections that full coverage adds, it is typically much more expensive than minimum coverage car insurance, which is $545 per year on average. However, full coverage provides a greater degree of protection to your finances because it covers damage to both the other party and to your own vehicle. This means that, although your premium might be more expensive, your financial health is better protected with full coverage.
If you are looking for cheap full coverage insurance, there are several factors that you should be aware of. The company you choose, the state you live in, your driving history, the type of vehicle you drive, and the coverage limits and deductibles you choose will all impact how much you pay.
Learn more: Cheapest car insurance companies
Average cost by insurance company
Car insurance companies evaluate a number of personalized factors to determine how much you will pay for car insurance. These include your driving history and the type of vehicle you drive. Not surprisingly, rates for full coverage car insurance are more than those for minimum coverage car insurance, but the price for full coverage varies greatly between companies. This is why getting quotes from multiple car insurance carriers is one of the best ways to make sure you are paying a competitive price.
|Company||Average annual premium for full coverage||Average annual premium for minimum coverage||Difference|
Average insurance cost by state
Auto insurance rates vary drastically from state to state, so knowing the average in your state could be a more accurate measurement than the national average.
|State||Average annual premium for full coverage||Average annual premium for minimum coverage||Difference|
Is full coverage insurance worth it?
Everyone’s financial situation is different, but in many cases, full coverage car insurance is worth it. Full coverage is generally recommended if your vehicle is new or relatively expensive, if you do not have the finances to repair or replace your damaged or totaled vehicle, or if the likelihood of damage is higher than average, as it could be with a teen driver.
And if you have a loan or lease, you will very likely be required to have full coverage. Financial institutions require full coverage because when you have a loan or a lease on your vehicle, you do not fully own it — a bank or other financial institution owns at least part of the car (as you pay down a loan, you own more of the car and your lender owns less). Because of this, lenders require full coverage to ensure that you will be able to pay off the balance of your lien if the vehicle is totaled.
Frequently asked questions
No. Most states require drivers to carry at least minimum levels of liability coverage, and some states also require additional coverage types, like PIP or uninsured motorist coverage. Full coverage is only required if you have a loan or lease on your vehicle. However, even if you own your car outright, full coverage could still be a good idea to better protect your finances.
That depends on your financial situation, your tolerance for risk and the requirements of your lender. Most insurance professionals recommend you carry auto coverage limits well above the state minimum requirements to ensure you are protected from substantial losses that could be financially devastating following an at-fault accident. Liability-only coverage can be a good option if your vehicle is paid off and you have the finances to repair or replace it if it is damaged or totaled. Full coverage adds more coverage to better protect you from a wider variety of situations, including damage to your own car. The optional coverage selections that might be included in full coverage — like car rental reimbursement and roadside assistance — provide even more protection. Talking to a licensed agent about your situation could help you choose coverage that is right for you.
This is a matter of personal preference. You will be required to keep full coverage on your vehicle until you have paid off your loan (or until you buy out your lease, if you decide to), but once you own your vehicle outright, you have the option of removing both comprehensive and collision. Some insurance professionals recommend that when the annual cost of comprehensive and collision equal more than 10% of your vehicle’s value, it is time to switch to liability only. However, if you still do not have the savings to repair vehicle damages or to buy a new car if yours is totaled, you might want to keep full coverage. The increasing values of used vehicles might also be a determining factor in how much coverage you should carry.
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2022 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Rates are weighted based on the population density in each geographic region. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 property damage liability per accident
- $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $500 collision deductible
- $500 comprehensive deductible
To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2020 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.
These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.