Collision Coverage vs Comprehensive Coverage – What’s the Difference?

  • Post category:Insurance

Understanding the difference between collision coverage and comprehensive coverage is an essential part of picking the car insurance that’s best for you. We’ve researched each type of car insurance and broken it down here so you can better understand what kind of car insurance is best for your lifestyle.

A collision policy covers damage your car might incur from another vehicle, such as a wreck on the highway, a fender bender, or other moving accidents. A comprehensive policy covers damage your car might incur from other outside sources such as hail, theft, falling debris, or other random accidents not involving other vehicles.

If you’re still fuzzy on these different types of coverage, don’t worry — we put together a comprehensive guide that will help you better understand the seemingly complex nature of insurance. Keep reading for a more detailed look at each one, and we’ll also answer some additional questions you may have.

What Is Covered Under A Collision Policy?

Car crash accident on street with wreck and damaged automobilesThis type of coverage is the cheaper of the two types, and it covers less than a comprehensive policy does. As its name suggests, it repairs or replaces your car if collision-based damage is done to your vehicle.

But you may be wondering, what kind of damage is covered? Maybe you or a friend got in a wreck that was all your fault, and you’re wondering if collision insurance can protect you next time. Or perhaps the person who hit you doesn’t have insurance, so now you’re looking for answers. Either way, here are some examples of damage covered by collision insurance:

  • A typical crash between two drivers
  • Damage from flipping over
  • Hitting objects such as trees, posts, or common obstructions

Collision coverage also protects you in the case the other driver does not have insurance. When you get in a car accident with another driver, you typically file a claim with their insurance company to fix the damage done to your vehicle.

If the other person is driving without insurance (which is illegal), you would be able to use collision insurance to cover the costs of fixing or replacing your vehicle. In this way, it is a safety net.

With that said, it is essential to note that often a deductible must be met before the insurance company will payout for the damages. The deductible amount will vary depending on the insurance company you choose to go with.

What Is Covered Under A Comprehensive Policy?

Mid size sedan burning profusely on the shoulder of the Garden State ParkwayComprehensive coverage is precisely what it sounds like: comprehensive. This type of insurance covers a multitude of other scenarios in which damage may be done to your car.

But first, let’s get one thing straight: comprehensive is not collision. While a comprehensive policy covers a lot of different types of damage done to your car, it does not include collision damage. It is not the “better option” because each type of coverage has a different purpose.

A lot of drivers will choose to pay for both types of coverage on their vehicles. Still, the question needs to be answered: what kind of damage is covered by comprehensive insurance? Here are some examples:

  • Vandalism
  • Car theft
  • Destructive weather conditions
  • Explosions/fires
  • Riots (civil unrest)
  • Animals

There are all types of unexpected situations life can throw at you, and comprehensive coverage is there to cover the atypical things that might happen when your car is parked or moving.

It’s also important to reiterate the situations comprehensive insurance won’t cover: anything covered by collision. The comprehensive policy does not cover you in the event you get in a wreck with someone who does not have insurance. Comprehensive is meant to cover the non-collision based damages. Luckily, most of the time, you can’t buy comprehensive coverage without also buying collision coverage.

It is important to note that under comprehensive coverage, a deductible also must often be met before the insurance company will payout. Again, the deductible amount will depend on your insurance company.

What Is Not Covered?

Generally, what is not covered by collision is covered by comprehensive and vice versa. Collision covers mostly car-to-car damages, with some exceptions. Comprehensive covers most other incidents that are less likely to happen regularly, with some exceptions.

What Happens If You Have No Collision Coverage?

If you don’t have collision insurance, chances are you also don’t have comprehensive since it is often bought with collision. If you don’t have either, what other insurance is there?

The most basic type of insurance is liability insurance. Liability simply covers the damages done to the other person or their vehicle in the event of an accident between two cars.

There are two types of liability coverage:

  • Bodily injury - covers the costs of injuries such as emergency response, medical bills, income loss, etc.
  • Property damage - covers the cost of fixing someone’s property you damaged, such as their car, garage door, fence, etc.

In almost all states, liability coverage is required by law. Collision coverage is even required most of the time if your car is leased or loaned, but it depends on who you bought or leased the car from.

Is Comprehensive Coverage The Same As Full Coverage?

Full coverage is a term that gets thrown around and loosely defined by insurance providers and professionals. Even though no specific definition exists, it is usually a combined version of liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. While full coverage and comprehensive are not the same things, often you will not have one without the other.

Is Hitting A Parked Car Collision Or Comprehensive?

Let’s imagine you were driving through a busy downtown area looking for a parking spot on the street. You see a spot that requires parallel parking, so you start to park and end up hitting the vehicle in front of you.

In this event, the “property damage” part of your liability insurance will cover the cost to repair their vehicle. Your vehicle will be covered by collision coverage (if you have it) provided you have met the deductible your insurance requires.

Is A Door Ding Collision Or Comprehensive?

Let’s say you were shopping at a grocery store and decided you could carry all of your bags to your car. Because your hands were so full, you accidentally swung your car door open too far, and it hit the car next to you, leaving a nasty mark.

In this event, your liability and collision coverage work together to solve this problem. The “property damage” part of your liability covers their door ding, and your collision insurance covers any damages done to your car.

You would not owe any sort of deductible unless your car door needs to be fixed, in which case your insurance might require you to meet your collision deductible to repair your car door.

Is Shopping Cart Damage Comprehensive Or Collision?

You’ve learned your lesson when it comes to carrying too many groceries, so this time you brought a shopping cart to your car and made sure it stayed put. Unfortunately, a rogue shopping cart slams into the side of your vehicle and makes you the victim of a parking lot incident. 

In this event, the other person who let the cart go is not responsible for the damages to your car. However, your collision coverage will likely take care of everything, so don’t sweat it.


Collision and Comprehensive are two very different types of coverage but often work together to provide people with the best coverage. We recommend having some form of both coverages, although sometimes tight budgets may allow you only to have collision coverage.

Because your vehicle is an asset, making sure your asset is protected in the case of an accident is an essential part of vehicle ownership. We hope this guide helped you better understand each type of coverage so you can protect your vehicle with confidence.

To learn more about the different types of insurance coverage, check out these other posts on!

Does Car Insurance Cover Paint Scratches?

When to Drop Comprehensive Car Insurance?