June 15, 2020

Full Coverage Car Insurance

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Do you really need to pay more for full coverage car insurance? Learn below if you need extra coverage, and see the cheapest prices.

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Auto insurers don't actually sell a policy called "full coverage auto insurance." But you've probably heard the term if you're shopping for car insurance.

Full coverage usually refers to a policy with liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. The idea is that your car will be covered in most situations.

Sound expensive? It can be. Full coverage is typically twice as expensive as liability-only.

Find out below when full coverage is a must, and when it's just a waste of money. Plus, learn 7 hacks to lower your insurance cost.

Topics covered in this article:

What Does a Full Coverage Policy Cover?

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Full coverage policies usually include liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance. This means if you get in an accident, both you and the other driver will be protected.

Here's what your full-coverage policy would cover:

Most states require a minimum amount of liability insurance. Liability includes bodily injury and property damage coverage. It pays out the other driver if you cause an accident. It covers:

  • Car repairs
  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage

Collision pays to repair or replace your car when you hit something. It covers you whether the collision was your fault or not. Some examples are:

  • You hit another car
  • You hit a pole, building, or other object
  • Rear-end collision
  • Hit-and-run accident

Comprehensive pays for damages to your car that aren't caused by a collision. Some car insurance companies call it "other than collision" coverage, or OTC. Some examples are:

  • Theft or vandalism
  • Deer hitting your car
  • Fire
  • Hail or other weather event

Other Coverages for Your Policy

You can get additional coverage for your full-coverage policy. This ensures you and your car are well-protected in many situations.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist
This covers your damages and injuries if the other driver doesn't have enough (or any) insurance. It applies when the other driver is at fault. Some states require this coverage.

Medical Payments (MedPay)
This covers medical costs for you and your passengers if you get hurt in a car accident. It also pays for funeral expenses if death results from the accident. MedPay applies regardless of who's at fault.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
PIP is similar to medical payments coverage. It also helps pay for medical and funeral costs resulting from an accident. The protection applies to you and the passengers in your car.

Unlike MedPay, PIP covers lost wages if you miss out on work. If you can't perform your daily tasks, it can also pay for services like house cleaning. PIP is required in some states.

Emergency Road Service
Many auto insurers include roadside assistance as part of a full coverage policy. It helps pay for services like towing, battery jump starts, and flat tire changes.

Car Rental and Travel Expenses
Car rental coverage reimburses you for the cost of renting a replacement car while yours is being repaired.

Travel expenses coverage kicks in if you're in an accident at least 50 miles from home. It helps pay for lodging, meals, transportation, and other expenses.

Gap Insurance
This coverage helps pay off your car loan if your car is stolen or totaled. Cars lose value quickly. Your regular insurance only pays for your car's current value, not how much you got it for. Gap coverage pays the difference so you won't owe more than what the car is worth.

Before buying gap insurance, check your car loan or lease agreement. It may be already included.

Do I Need Full Coverage Car Insurance?

Whether you need full coverage comes down to your peace of mind. Of course, cost is a major factor in deciding how much car insurance to buy. (Find out which insurers are cheapest in the next section.)

Take a look at when full coverage is a must and when it's not:

When to Get Full Coverage
If you're financing or leasing your car, full coverage is most likely required as part of your agreement terms. You don't have a choice in this case.

Even if it's not required, you should still consider full coverage if:

  • Your car is worth a lot of money.
  • Other household members drive your car.
  • You do a lot of driving.
  • Your car isn't parked in a garage.
  • You plan to resell your car.
  • State liability minimums aren't enough.

State minimum requirements aren't always enough. Take these limits for example:
  • $25,000 bodily injury liability limit per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability limit per accident
  • $20,000 property damage liability

Let's say you caused an accident that injured three people. All three of their injuries cost $25,000 each, totaling $75,000. The maximum limit per accident is $50,000. That leaves you short $25,000.

You could get sued for the $25,000 since you caused the accident. Full coverage helps you pay and protects your earnings and assets.

When Not to Get Full Coverage
In some cases, liability-only coverage is enough. By dropping the other coverages, you can save almost $400 on your insurance premium.

Consider dropping full coverage if:

  • You own the car completely.
  • Your car is worth less than $4,000.
  • You have enough money to pay for damages out of pocket.

Rule of Thumb: If the cost of full coverage is more than 10% of your vehicle's replacement cost, it's best to drop it. The replacement cost is what your insurer would pay if your car were stolen or totaled, minus the deductible.

Just be sure to have an emergency fund for car repairs.

Who Has the Cheapest Full Coverage Car Insurance?

The cost of complete auto insurance protection varies immensely. Based on a 6-month policy, the top five cheapest auto insurers for full coverage are:

  • GEICO: $600
  • State Farm: $650
  • Nationwide: $720
  • Progressive: $815
  • Farmers: $825

USAA is usually the cheapest option if you have access to it. But it's only available to active and retired military personnel and their families.

On average, you can expect to pay $1,250 a year for full coverage car insurance. Generally, full coverage is double the monthly cost of just liability.

The price of a full coverage policy depends on factors like:

Cost of Full vs. Minimum Coverage by State

A full coverage policy protects you in most situations. So you'll pay more than you would for minimum coverage. Check out the average cost for minimum and full coverage policies in your state:

StateMinimum CoverageFull CoverageAnnual Difference
District of Columbia$713$1,512$799
New Hampshire$437$1,081$644
New Jersey$1,098$2,054$956
New Mexico$539$1,524$985
New York$955$2,202$1,247
North Carolina$425$1,162$737
North Dakota$416$1,829$1,413
Rhode Island$925$1,897$972
South Carolina$642$1,582$940
South Dakota$287$1,294$1,007
West Virginia$608$1,903$1,295

Ways to Lower Your Full Coverage Cost

Shopping around for quotes is the best way to find cheap car insurance. You won't know how low your rates can be until you ask multiple companies.

Besides comparison shopping, here's how you can lower the price even more:

Lower Your Deductible
When you file a claim, you might have to pay a deductible amount before your insurance kicks in. The higher your deductibles, the lower your insurance costs.

You can save about $180 a year by increasing your $500 deductible to a $1,000 deductible. But make sure you can afford your deductible in case of an accident.

How does the deductible work? Let's say you accidentally hit the gas instead of the brakes and crashed into a building.

The damage is $7,000. Your auto insurance policy has a $1,000 collision deductible. You pay your $1,000 deductible and your insurer covers the remaining $6,000.

Carefully Select Coverages
Only select the coverages you need. For example, if you already belong to an auto club, you can skip the roadside assistance coverage.

Choose Policy Limits Wisely
The higher your policy limits, the more you pay. A comprehensive policy with limits of $300,000 costs more than a $100,000 policy.

Scout Out Discounts You Qualify For
You can save a lot with discounts, so always seek them out. Ask your insurance agent which ones you qualify for. It won't matter if a company offers lots of discounts if you can't get any of them.

Know When to File a Claim
Auto insurers usually raise your rates if you submit several claims in a year. If the loss is small, say under $2,000, consider paying for it on your own instead of filing a claim.

Look for Accident Forgiveness
Many insurers offer free accident forgiveness. This means your insurance won't increase from one at-fault accident.

With some insurers, accident forgiveness can be used for all small claims. With others, it applies to only one accident per policy.

Here are 2 ways to find the cheapest full auto coverage:
  1. Shop around and compare. Most auto insurers have a free quote button on their website. You can also search insurance marketplaces that provide quotes from multiple insurers.

  2. Use an insurance broker or an independent agent. Agents can get you quotes from many different auto insurance companies. They represent your needs and have access to insurers that cater to different situations, like a bad driving record or bad credit.

In both cases, be sure to compare coverage and discounts. You want to be sure the cheap price doesn't skimp on valuable coverages.

How to Buy Full Coverage Car Insurance

You can put together a full coverage policy at just about any car insurance company.

Check with your employer or associations you belong to, such as an auto club, warehouse shopping club, or senior organization. They sometimes offer group car insurance options.

To buy your full coverage policy, complete a car insurance application through:

Your current insurer
If you already have some other type of insurance, like home or renters, ask your insurer for a car quote. Adding an auto policy qualifies you for a multi-policy discount.

Company agents
If you've already shopped around and know the company you want, contact that company's local agent.

Independent insurance agency or broker
Check around your neighborhood for an independent agent or broker. You can either visit the office in person or apply over the phone.

Insurance company websites
Get a policy quote and then submit an application on the website of the auto insurance company of your choice.

Insurance marketplaces
With an online marketplace, you receive a list of companies, policies, and prices. You can chat online with a customer representative to learn more and buy directly through the marketplace.

Whichever method you choose, your full coverage auto insurance goes into effect as soon as you make your first payment.

Bottom Line

Full coverage insurance means your policy offers more protection than just the minimum required in your state. Typically, a full coverage policy includes comprehensive, collision, and liability coverages.

Is it really worth paying extra for the coverage? It depends on how much your car is worth and how often you drive. You'll pay a higher premium, but that might be worth your peace of mind.

Full coverage auto insurance can be expensive, so be sure to shop around. Consider dropping full coverage if it no longer makes sense based on the age and value of your car.

Write to Maryellen Cicione at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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