What Is Full-Coverage Car Insurance?

Full coverage can pay for damage to your car that results from an accident you caused.

Elizabeth Rivelli
Elizabeth Rivelli
  • 5+ years writing insurance and personal finance topics

  • Auto, home, health, and life insurance expertise

Elizabeth has extensive insurance industry experience, having written for Insureon, Rate Retriever, and Insurify. She’s also finance and insurance editor for Car and Driver.

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Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

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Updated May 16, 2024

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Full-coverage car insurance is generally a combination of policies and typically includes collision, comprehensive, liability, and medical payments insurance. Technically, full-coverage car insurance is optional. But if you lease or finance your car, you’ll likely have to carry full coverage.

Despite the term “full coverage,” a full-coverage car insurance policy doesn’t provide unlimited protection. However, full-coverage policies provide significantly more protection than liability-only policies.

What is considered full-coverage car insurance?

“Full-coverage insurance” isn’t an official auto insurance term, but it typically includes:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/169fdfde11/liability-coverage.svg

    Liability coverage

    Liability coverage pays for damage to the other driver’s vehicle and medical costs for the other party and their passengers if you cause an accident.

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    Collision coverage

    Collision coverage helps pay to repair or replace your car after an accident with another vehicle, object, or pothole.

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    Comprehensive coverage

    Comprehensive coverage covers vandalism, theft, and non-accident-related damages from things like fires, storms, falling objects, and natural disasters.

Depending on your insurer and your state’s insurance requirements, full coverage may also include:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/4c9753bdbe/medical-payments.svg

    Medical payments (MedPay)

    Medical payments (MedPay) covers medical treatment or funeral expenses for you and your passengers after an accident, regardless of fault. Some states require MedPay, so full-coverage policies often include it.

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    Uninsured/underinsured motorist

    Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps pay for your injuries, your passengers’ injuries, and damage to your vehicle if an underinsured or uninsured driver hits you. Full coverage may include UM/UIM, especially if your state requires it.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/f2ca9fa443/protection-for-passengers.svg

    Personal injury protection

    Personal injury protection (PIP), required in most no-fault states, pays for your medical expenses and lost wages after an accident, regardless of fault. You can sometimes purchase it as an add-on in states that don't require PIP.

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What full-coverage car insurance covers

Full coverage typically includes liability insurance to pay for expenses related to other drivers, their cars, and their passengers. Collision and comprehensive coverages are also included and cover your vehicle.

Full-coverage policies can vary based on your insurer, so it’s best to check with an insurance agent if you’re confused about what your insurance covers. The table below shows the major differences between the most common types of auto insurance.

Coverage TypeWhat It CoversIs It Required?Who It’s Good For
Bodily injury liabilityAfter an at-fault accident, this policy pays for the other driver’s medical expenses if they get injured.Yes, in most statesAll drivers
Property damage liabilityAfter an at-fault accident, this policy pays for the other driver’s vehicle repairs.Yes, in most statesAll drivers
Uninsured/underinsured motoristThis policy provides extra coverage for your losses if you get into an accident with an uninsured motorist or a driver with limited insurance coverage.Yes, in some statesAll drivers
Medical paymentsPays for your and your passengers’ medical bills after a collision, no matter which driver was at fault.Yes, in some statesDrivers without health insurance or with limited health insurance coverage and drivers who can’t afford their medical expenses after an accident
CollisionPays to repair or replace your vehicle after a covered accident, up to your car’s ACV.NoDrivers who lease or finance their vehicles and drivers with newer vehicles
ComprehensivePays to repair or replace your vehicle after a covered non-collision claim, up to your car’s ACV.NoDrivers who lease or finance their vehicles and drivers with newer vehicles

What full coverage doesn’t cover

Despite its name, full-coverage insurance doesn’t cover every situation. Most car insurance companies sell optional policies, also called endorsements, which fill in coverage gaps, including the following:

  • Roadside assistance covers the cost of basic roadside car repairs and towing.

  • Accident forgiveness waives your first minor at-fault accident and prevents your premium from increasing after a crash. Generally, you’ll need to have a clean driving record for at least three years to qualify for this coverage.

  • Gap insurance covers the difference between what you owe on your car loan and your car’s diminished value if you total your vehicle.

  • Rental reimbursement helps cover the cost of a rental car while your vehicle is in the shop for repairs.

Liability coverage

Liability insurance includes two parts — bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage.[1] It only applies when you cause an accident and the other driver suffers losses.

In the case of an at-fault accident, the bodily injury liability portion of your policy compensates the other driver for any medical expenses. The property damage liability portion pays for their car repairs. Liability insurance also covers your legal fees if another driver sues you.

In most states, personal liability insurance is a legal requirement. The minimum coverage limits for liability insurance are different in every state, but there’s no guarantee that a minimum-coverage policy will cover the full cost of the damages after an accident.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Uninsured motorist insurance generally includes three types of protection: uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI), uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD), and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. UIM pays the difference between your repair costs and the underinsured driver’s liability limits.

UMBI pays your medical bills, lost wages, or funeral expenses if an uninsured driver causes an accident that injures you or your passengers. UMBI also applies to hit-and-runs and if an uninsured driver injures you as a pedestrian or cyclist. UMPD pays for property damage caused by an uninsured driver if you don’t have collision insurance.

Collision and comprehensive coverage

Collision insurance pays for your vehicle’s repairs after an accident you’re responsible for. It also covers single-car crashes and rollovers. Collision insurance is not legally required, but lenders typically require it if you lease or finance your car. With most policies, the coverage limit of a collision insurance policy is the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle, which is the original cost of your vehicle minus depreciation.

Important Information:

Depreciation accounts for normal wear and tear, mileage, age, and more.

Comprehensive coverage pays for your vehicle’s repairs when the car is damaged in a non-collision event.[1] It’s an optional policy, but it’s often required for drivers who lease or have an auto loan.

Comprehensive insurance covers a variety of potential losses, including:

Like collision insurance, the policy limit for comprehensive insurance is usually the ACV of your vehicle. If you file a claim, you’ll generally pay a deductible before your insurer covers the damages, up to the policy limit.[2]

The cost of full-coverage car insurance

The national average for full-coverage insurance is $215, but rates can vary widely. Insurance companies calculate the likelihood you’ll file a claim based on a number of factors, including your state, accident history, age, driving record, credit history, and car make and model.

Some companies offer cheaper full-coverage car insurance than others. However, the most affordable policy for you will depend on your unique driver profile. The Insurance Information Institute recommends drivers compare quotes from at least three different insurers, which can help you find the best deal.

Currently, these insurance companies provide the most affordable quotes for full coverage:

The below rates are estimated rates current as of: Thursday, May 16 at 12:00 PM PDT
Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Quote
COUNTRY Financial43
NJM55
Hugo62
Auto-Owners81
Erie93
USAA99
Mile Auto113
State Farm115
Metromile117
GEICO118
Root127
Safeco130
CSAA134
Allstate136
Progressive137
Clearcover142
Mercury156
National General162
American Family173
The Hartford177
Elephant183
Nationwide184
State Auto191
Travelers195
Direct Auto197
Shelter198
Liberty Mutual212
AssuranceAmerica215
Dairyland231
The General245
Chubb246
Farmers247
21st Century264
GAINSCO274
Infinity277
Foremost280
Anchor281
Amica283
Bristol West285
Commonwealth Casualty310
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

Liability vs. full coverage

Liability coverage helps pay for accident-related damages, from car repairs to medical bills, for the other driver and their passengers. All states except Virginia and New Hampshire require liability insurance, and recent legislation changes mean Virginia drivers must carry coverage after July 1, 2024. Each state has its own minimum liability requirements.

Unlike liability insurance, states don’t mandate full coverage. You may need to buy it if you finance or lease your vehicle and your lender requires it. Full-coverage insurance generally includes collision and comprehensive coverages, which pay for damages to your car.

The cost of liability-only vs. full coverage car insurance

Liability-only insurance provides less financial protection for you, your vehicle, and your passengers, so it’s significantly cheaper than full coverage. Local laws, accident rates, and the risk of natural disasters can influence insurance rates, so the cost of liability and full-coverage insurance varies by state.

StateFull CoverageLiability Only
Alabama$163$62
Alaska$123$68
Arizona$194$94
Arkansas$263$106
California$271$133
Colorado$214$85
Connecticut$354$200
Delaware$208$131
Florida$295$216
Georgia$241$146
Hawaii$116$65
Idaho$139$69
Illinois$185$79
Indiana$140$69
Iowa$158$61
Kansas$197$79
Kentucky$273$176
Louisiana$308$156
Maine$173$89
Maryland$316$177
Massachusetts$216$102
Michigan$338$182
Minnesota$204$102
Mississippi$201$76
Missouri$246$97
Montana$192$94
Nebraska$222$90
Nevada$333$196
New Hampshire$129$55
New Jersey$217$113
New Mexico$194$70
New York$163$141
North Carolina$106$57
North Dakota$155$88
Ohio$157$72
Oklahoma$201$91
Oregon$177$99
Pennsylvania$195$91
Rhode Island$185$145
South Carolina$276$164
South Dakota$175$64
Tennessee$181$78
Texas$251$119
Utah$187$101
Vermont$157$67
Virginia$168$93
Washington$187$85
Washington, D.C.$212$121
West Virginia$179$74
Wisconsin$140$61
Wyoming$165$66
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

Who should get full-coverage car insurance?

Although full-coverage insurance isn’t legally required, it’s a good investment for many drivers.

If you lease or finance your vehicle, the lienholder — like an auto loan company — might require full-coverage car insurance. This protects your lender from financial loss if something happens to your vehicle while you still owe money on it.

Keep in Mind:

Full-coverage auto insurance can also be beneficial if you drive a high-value car. Newer cars and luxury models are often expensive to fix, and without physical damage coverage, you would have to pay for the repairs (or a new car) out of pocket in the event of a claim.[1]

Full coverage can provide financial protection from incidents liability-only insurance won’t cover, including:

  • Vehicle damage from driving over a ditch or pothole

  • Hailstorms, floods, or fires damage your vehicle

  • You hit a deer or other animal

  • A hit-and-run damages your car

  • You collide with a fence, pole, guardrail, or other object

  • Your vehicle is stolen or vandalized

When full-coverage doesn’t make sense

Not every driver needs full coverage. If you could repair or replace your vehicle for less than it would cost to add collision and comprehensive coverage, it might make more sense to stick with a liability-only policy.

If you have an older vehicle worth very little money, full-coverage insurance could cost more annually than the value of your car. You might also skip full coverage if you keep your car in storage most of the time.

How to buy full-coverage car insurance

Now that you understand full-coverage insurance, you can learn how to purchase a policy. Before you buy a full-coverage insurance policy, however, it’s important to compare a few different insurance companies. Here are the general steps you should follow to buy full-coverage car insurance:[2]

  1. Research insurance companies. Every car insurance company offers something different, whether it’s more discounts, better coverage options, or lower rates. Research and compare companies to see which ones meet your needs.

  2. Choose your coverage limits. Think about how much coverage you want for policies like liability insurance and MedPay. You also need to decide what deductible you can comfortably afford.

  3. Consider endorsements. Decide if you want to add endorsements to your policy, like accident forgiveness or gap insurance. Make sure you choose an insurance company that offers the policies you want.

  4. Compare quotes. Next, you can start getting quotes on individual insurer websites or using a quote-comparison platform. With a quote-comparison platform, you can get matched with quotes from many different insurance companies based on a single application.

  5. Purchase a policy. After you’ve compared quotes and found the best match for you, it’s time to purchase your policy. Once the initial premium is paid, your coverage will take effect. Don’t forget to download or print your insurance ID cards, which you’ll need to keep in your vehicle.

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Compare Car Insurance Rates All in One Place (May 2024)

Full-coverage car insurance FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about full-coverage car insurance.

  • Do you need full-coverage car insurance for an older car?

    You may consider dropping collision or comprehensive insurance for an older car if it’s worth less than 10 times your premium.[3] If you still have a loan on the car, the lender may require these coverages, so check with the lender to ensure you still have the required coverage.

  • Do you need full-coverage car insurance for a leased car?

    If you lease a car, comprehensive and collision insurance are usually required to protect the car owner’s investment — in this case, the bank, dealership, or leasing company that owns the car.[4]

  • Can you buy collision or comprehensive separately?

    While comprehensive and collision coverages are separate add-ons to car insurance policies, some insurers may bundle the two coverage options under one endorsement. If you want to buy one without the other, compare car insurance companies that offer them separately.

  • Is personal injury protection part of full-coverage car insurance?

    Sometimes it is. In no-fault states where personal injury protection isn’t required, it’s a coverage that drivers can add to their insurance policies to increase their protection in the case of an accident.

  • Is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage part of full-coverage car insurance?

    Sometimes it is. In states where UI/UM coverage isn’t required, drivers can add it to their policy to help protect themselves if they’re in an accident with a driver who is uninsured or doesn’t have high enough limits to cover expenses.

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Methodology

Insurify data scientists analyzed more than 90 million quotes served to car insurance applicants in Insurify’s proprietary database to calculate the premium averages displayed on this page. These premiums are real quotes that come directly from Insurify’s 50+ partner insurance companies in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quote averages represent the median price for a quote across the given coverage level, driver subset, and geographic area.

Unless otherwise specified, quoted rates reflect the average cost for drivers between 20 and 70 years old with a clean driving record and average or better credit (a credit score of 600 or higher).

Liability-only premium averages correspond to policies with the following coverage limits:

  • Bodily injury limits between state-minimum rates and $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident
  • Property damage limits between $10,000 and $50,000
  • No additional coverage
Full-coverage premium averages correspond to the same bodily injury and property damage limits in addition to:
  • Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible
  • Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible

Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Services’ database of auto insurance rates.

Sources

  1. NAIC. "A Consumer's Guide to Auto Insurance."
  2. III. "How to find the right auto insurance."
  3. III. "Nine ways to lower your auto insurance costs."
  4. III. "Insuring a leased car."
Elizabeth Rivelli
Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth Rivelli is a freelance writer covering insurance and personal finance. She has extensive knowledge of various insurance lines, including property and casualty, health, and life insurance. Her byline has been featured in dozens of publications, including Investopedia, Forbes, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, and Insurance.com

Courtney Mikulski
Edited byCourtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

Featured in

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Compare Car Insurance Quotes Instantly

Secure. Free. Easy-to-use.
Based on 3,806+ reviews
4.8/5
Shopper Approved
ProgressiveLiberty MutualTravelers

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