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The Difference Between Collision and Comprehensive Car Insurance Coverage

Kieron Walker lives in New York. Prior to becoming a help desk specialist, he handled auto claims for a major insurance company.

There are two types of auto insurance coverage for physical damage to your own motor vehicle, comprehensive and collision. Damage caused to other vehicles or property as a result of your neglect falls under liability coverage and will be discussed in another article.

There is often quite a bit of confusion over what types of losses are covered under comprehensive and collision. There are also differences from one insurance company to the next as to what is included under each coverage. This article should provide a broad overview of the two coverages with some examples of each.

Similarities Between Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

Although they cover different types of losses, there are some ways in which comprehensive and collision are the same.

Both coverages deal with direct and accidental losses. Meaning damage resulting from gradual wear and tear are not considered under collision or comprehensive.

The losses covered under each coverage must be to your car. As mentioned previously, damages caused by your auto to other vehicles would be covered under your liability coverage if you are found liable for the accident.

The amount paid out under each coverage is reduced by whatever your deductible is (some policies do not have a deductible for certain coverages). The deductible is the dollar amount that you agree to pay towards the repairs towards your car. In some cases, it is possible to recover your deductible if another person is found at fault for the damage to your vehicle.

What Is a Collision?

The impact of a car with another object or vehicle, or the overturning of a vehicle (rollover).

What Is Covered Under Collision Coverage?

The answer to this is fairly straightforward. Any damages to your car resulting from a collision are generally covered under collision coverage. Of course, there are always exceptions and exclusions under every policy, so be sure to consult with your insurance agent or claims department if you have specific questions.

Below are some examples of situations that would be considered collision losses:

  • Mrs. Smith is running late for work and backs her car into the tree across the street from her driveway.
  • Eric drops his phone and takes his eye off the road to pick it up. He ends up losing control and sideswiping two parked cars.
  • Mr. Jones comes out of the mall to find that someone has hit his car and left the scene of the accident. (*some additional coverages may be available for hit and run accidents in certain states)
  • Bonnie misjudges the distance between herself and oncoming traffic. She makes a left turn in front of a dairy truck causing a collision at the intersection.
  • Tim is driving home from work one night and slides on black ice. His car hits against a guardrail before finally coming to a stop.

What Is Comprehensive Coverage?

Sometimes called "Other Than Collision" because it usually covers all losses except for collisions (with some exclusions).

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What Is Covered Under Comprehensive Coverage?

There really is no true list of things that are covered as comp losses because there is not enough space in an auto policy to fit all of the possible losses that could occur. In most cases, claims handlers verify that the loss is not a collision and then make sure it is not on a list of excluded situations. If the loss has not been declined by this point, it is usually covered as a comp loss.

The following are some of the general losses covered under the comprehensive area of the auto policy:

  • Glass breakage (*see Glass Breakage section for more information)
  • Missiles (flying objects)
  • Falling objects
  • Fire
  • Theft/Larceny
  • Explosions
  • Riots or Civil Commotion
  • Contact with birds or other animals (not humans)
  • Windstorm
  • Hail
  • Water
  • Flood
  • Vandalism
  • Earthquake

How Is Glass Coverage Handled?

Losses due to broken glass can be considered under both collision and comprehensive coverage depending on how the loss occurred. If the glass breakage was due to a collision type of accident, then usually the loss would be handled under the collision part of the policy. If the broken glass is a result of a comp loss, then it will be handled under the comprehensive coverage.

*Glass breakage tends to be handled differently depending on which company you are insured with. Be sure to check with your agent to see which coverage most glass claims are filed under.

Are You Still Confused?

You are definitely not alone if you have further questions on what may be considered a collision loss or a comprehensive loss. There are countless accident scenarios that fall under each type of coverage. The answer may vary from company to company, so the best advice is always to try contacting the claims department for your own insurance company to be 100% sure.

In the meantime, try the following quiz and see how comfortable you are telling the difference between comprehensive and collision coverages.


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Jill is driving at night and hits a deer in the road. Comp or Collision loss?
    • Comprehensive
    • Collision
  2. Fred's car slides on icy roads and hits another car from behind. Comp or Collision loss?
    • Comprehensive
    • Collision
  3. Thomas swerves to avoid a moose in the road and hits a mailbox. Comp or Collision?
    • Comprehensive
    • Collision
  4. Kelly's car gets hit by rocks kicked up off the highway by another vehicle. Comp or Collision?
    • Comprehensive
    • Collision
  5. Pat falls asleep at the wheel and runs into a tree at another person's house. Comp or Collision?
    • Comprehensive
    • Collision

Answer Key

  1. Comprehensive
  2. Collision
  3. Collision
  4. Comprehensive
  5. Collision

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: I was driving under the overpass and hit black ice car slide out of control and I hit the wall. I'm waiting to call the insurer because its Sunday and they're not open. What should I do following my accident?

Answer: I would definitely call your insurer to report the accident. You'll still have the choice of whether or not you want to make a claim based on your coverage and the amount of damage to your car. If there was any sort of damage to the wall, they could also handle that under your liability coverage if you have any.

Play it safe! Contact them and let them explain what they can or can't cover.

© 2017 Kieron Walker


Homayoun Seyed Akhlaghi on August 02, 2018:

I got educated about important item for car insurance coverage

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