What Does Collision Insurance Cover and What’s Not Covered?

Collision coverage can pay to repair your vehicle if it’s damaged in an accident, even if you’re at fault for the crash.

Updated February 14, 2023 | Reading time: 5 minutes

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Collision insurance is an optional coverage that pays for damages to your vehicle in a collision with an object, such as another vehicle, a tree, or a road sign.[1] However, collision insurance doesn’t cover certain damages.

Knowing what collision insurance does and doesn’t cover can help you understand whether you need this optional insurance coverage.

What does collision insurance cover?

Car insurance essentially refers to two categories of coverage: liability and property damage. While most states mandate minimum liability coverage, they don’t require collision insurance. Collision insurance is a type of property damage insurance designed to protect your vehicle and finances when your car is damaged.[2]

However, collision insurance only includes certain forms of property damage. Most of these are a result of your vehicle colliding with an object. Comprehensive coverage, however, is a separate optional coverage that pays for damages from theft, flooding, weather, fire, vandalism, and other non-collision sources.[3]

Collision insurance coverage limits and examples may vary, depending on the insurer, but many policies tend to cover:

  • Driving over a pothole

  • Running into a telephone pole, tree, or sign

  • Colliding with another car

  • The vehicle flipping or rolling over, even if no other cars are involved

What’s not covered?

Collision insurance doesn’t cover all types of damages, even though many incidents may cause similar damage to your vehicle. For example, collision insurance doesn’t cover cracked, pitted, or damaged windshields. That type of damage is covered under most comprehensive insurance policies.

Other situations where collision insurance typically won’t cover damages include:

Claim TypeCovered Under
Bodily injuryLiability insurance
Property damage you caused with your vehicleLiability insurance
Weather damage such as hail, windstorm, flood, or fireComprehensive insurance
Theft and vandalismComprehensive insurance

Is collision insurance worth it?

Since it’s an optional insurance product, some drivers may wonder if collision insurance is worth the expense. This is especially the case for drivers who want to pay the lowest premiums possible.

Collision insurance may be worth the expense if you live in an area with high traffic volume or if you can’t afford the out-of-pocket expense for your vehicle repairs after a covered event.

However, collision insurance may not be worth the expense if you’re insuring an older vehicle. Car values decrease over time, which means that the cost to repair your vehicle may exceed the vehicle’s actual cash value. In this situation, some vehicle owners may believe that collision insurance isn’t worth its monthly expense or maximum reimbursement potential.[2] Compare the cost of collision insurance and its deductible to your car’s actual cash value to determine if collision insurance is worth it for you.

Pros and cons of collision insurance


  • Increased protection: It protects you in the event of certain accidents or incidents, such as damage from hitting a pothole or telephone pole.

  • Collision includes flipping: If you overcorrect on a turn and flip your vehicle, collision insurance still covers the damages.

  • Includes parked car collisions: It covers damages if another driver hits your car that was parked in a lot or street space.


  • Increased premiums: Additional coverage will likely increase premium costs.

  • Limited coverage: It doesn’t cover acts of God, natural disasters, theft, vandalism, or windshield damages.

  • Deductible payments: Even with coverage, you’ll likely pay a deductible prior to receiving reimbursement for damages.

Learn More: No-Deductible Car Insurance: Is It Right for You?

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Do I need collision insurance?

While it isn’t legally required to carry collision insurance, many drivers do. In fact, a majority of drivers carry this optional coverage in the United States.[4] You may consider collision insurance if you’re unable to pay for vehicle damages out of pocket, if a young or inexperienced driver is on your policy, or if you want peace of mind in the event of a collision.

Important Information

While state or federal laws don’t require collision insurance, you’ll still need collision coverage if you finance or lease your vehicle. The lender or leaseholder will likely require you to have both collision and comprehensive coverage.[1]

Is collision insurance required by law?

No laws require a policyholder to have collision insurance. Most states only mandate either a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage or proof of sufficient assets to pay for damages that the driver may cause when involved in an at-fault accident.[5]

You may not be required to carry collision or comprehensive coverage, but optional insurance protects you, your vehicle, and your assets in the event of an accident. Accident damages may cost more than the minimum mandated insurance coverage limits.

Comprehensive insurance vs. collision insurance

Comprehensive insurance and collision insurance are similar in various ways. Both are optional insurance coverages that apply to damages to the vehicle. States don’t require drivers to have minimum amounts of these coverages. 

While these coverages aren’t legally required, drivers can purchase them independently and most drivers in the U.S. purchase them both.[1]

The main differences between comprehensive and collision insurance are the types and extent of damages they cover. Collision insurance covers damages resulting from the driver’s car colliding with an object, like a tree or pothole, as well as if another vehicle collides with the car.

Comprehensive insurance covers damages not related to collisions. This could include damages from riots, vandalism, animals, natural disasters, fires, theft, and falling objects, like branches or projectiles. Comprehensive also covers damage to windshields, while collision doesn’t.

Keep Reading: Does Your Insurance Cover Windshield Replacement?

Collision insurance FAQs

Collision coverage can pay to repair your car if it’s damaged in an accident, even if you’re at fault. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about collision insurance.

  • Does collision insurance cover theft?

    No, collision insurance doesn’t cover vehicle theft. Collision insurance only pays for damages to your vehicle caused by a collision with another car, object, pothole, or rollover. Comprehensive coverage, however, does cover theft.

  • Does collision insurance cover rental car accidents?

    Possibly. Depending on your insurance policy, your collision insurance may cover the same damages to the rental car that it would cover on your personal vehicle. However, there may be exceptions. For example, if your auto insurance policy only covers personal use and you rent a car for business, you won’t receive coverage. This is why separate rental car insurance is available.

  • Does collision insurance cover vandalism?

    No, collision insurance usually doesn’t cover vandalism. But comprehensive coverage typically covers vandalism. Like collision insurance, state law doesn’t require comprehensive coverage, but your lender or leaseholder might.

  • Does collision insurance cover hit-and-run accidents?

    Possibly. Depending on your insurer, your coverage limits, and the context of the accident, collision insurance may apply to hit-and-run accidents. For the damage to your vehicle, collision coverage might cover it, but it’s always important to ask your insurer to verify. You may also consider uninsured motorist coverage for a more robust type of coverage for hit-and-run situations.

  • What’s the difference between liability and collision coverage?

    The difference between liability and collision coverage is the type and extent of damages that they cover. Liability coverage covers bodily and property damage, specifically damages that the at-fault driver causes to another person or property. Collision coverage covers certain types of damages caused by a car colliding with another car, tree, or other object. Most states legally require liability coverage, while collision coverage is optional.

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  1. III. "What is covered by collision and comprehensive auto insurance?." Accessed February 10, 2023
  2. NAIC. "Auto Insuance." Accessed February 10, 2023
  3. NAIC. "What You Should Know About Auto Insurance Coverage." Accessed February 10, 2023
  4. III. "Does my auto insurance cover damage caused by potholes?." Accessed February 10, 2023
  5. III. "Is it legal to drive without insurance?." Accessed February 10, 2023
Nick Dauk
Nick Dauk

Nick Dauk is a freelance writer specializing in business, entrepreneurship, personal finance, and travel. His work has been featured in Fox Business, BBC, The Edge, Business Insider, and Bisnow. Nick is a first-generation college graduate, having majored in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Central Florida. His eclectic coursework, combined with previous managerial roles in the retail and broadcast television industries, have helped him develop an interdisciplinary approach to writing.

For nearly a decade, Nick has created content for mom-and-pop businesses and global corporations. As a travel writer, his global adventures have also been featured on Inside Hook, Houston Chronicle, Culture Trip, and Matador. When he's not traveling, Nick can be found in Orlando spending time with his wife and toddler.