You’ve probably heard of full coverage car insurance, but might not know what it means. Turns out, there’s no such thing as a “full coverage policy.” Rather, full coverage insurance is a combination of coverage types that can protect your car in most situations.
Full coverage insurance definition
Full coverage insurance typically combines collision and comprehensive insurance, which pay out if your vehicle is damaged, plus liability coverage, which pays for injuries and damage you cause to others.
But this extra protection comes at a cost. Since it covers more situations, full coverage insurance is pricier than liability coverage alone, which only pays for injuries and damage you cause to others. To find cheap full coverage insurance, it’s important to shop around for the best rates.
What is full coverage car insurance?
Full coverage auto insurance means you have coverage for your own car, not just the damage or injuries you may cause to other drivers. Full coverage car insurance isn’t a specific type of policy, but typically a combination of required and optional coverage.
Full coverage auto insurance may include:
What it pays for
Bodily injury liability
Medical costs due to injuries or deaths from an accident you caused.
Property damage liability
Repair costs for property you damaged in an accident.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury liability
Medical costs after an accident with an uninsured driver.
Required on all policies in 20 states and Washington, D.C.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage
Repair costs after an accident with an uninsured driver.
Required on all policies in 7 states and Washington, D.C.
Repair costs to your car if you crash with another vehicle or run into an object, such as a tree or a telephone pole.
A car loan or lease may require it.
Repair costs from events outside your control — including weather, hitting an animal while driving, theft and vandalism.
A car loan or lease may require it.
But full coverage auto insurance doesn’t cover everything. If you want extras like new-car replacement insurance, emergency roadside assistance or custom parts and equipment coverage, you may need to add them separately.
Who needs full coverage insurance
Full coverage car insurance isn’t required by law. Many states mandate only a small amount of auto liability insurance. But that won’t cover your injuries or car repairs — only damage or injuries you cause others.
If you have an auto loan or lease, your lender likely requires you to buy collision and comprehensive coverage. The vast majority of companies offer these policies, but some insurers don’t let you purchase one without the other.
Buying full coverage auto insurance may be a sound investment if:
You have a new or expensive car.
You regularly commute in heavy traffic.
You live in a place with extreme weather, high car theft rates or a high risk of animal collisions.
You can’t afford to repair or replace your car if it’s wrecked or stolen.
For an older vehicle, however, full coverage may not be worth the cost. Comprehensive and collision insurance reimburse you only up to the cash value of your car at the time it’s damaged or stolen. And they usually have an insurance deductible, an amount you’re expected to pay out of pocket toward repair or replacement.
Imagine it costs you $600 per year for comprehensive and collision, and you have a $1,000 deductible. If your car is worth $1,500, a claim check would be $1,000 at most. This leaves you with $500, which is $100 less than what you paid for the coverage. Checking your car’s current value can help you decide whether full coverage makes sense.
Even with full coverage, there are other policy options you might need. For example, uninsured motorist coverage, gap insurance and medical payments insurance all pay for expenses full coverage car insurance won’t. If you’re on the fence, play with the coverage options you see online when shopping for car insurance quotes.
What does full coverage insurance cost?
Although it’s one of the largest insurers in the country, Liberty Mutual is not included in our analysis because it does not provide rate data.
Full coverage insurance vs. minimum rates by company
NerdWallet compared 2021 rates for minimum and full coverage auto policies across the country. Among the largest companies, we found that full coverage insurance costs more than twice as much as minimum coverage, on average.
*USAA is available only to active military, veterans and their families.
Full coverage rates in each state
Prices vary even more by state. Compare annual average rates below for minimum and full coverage car insurance in each state.
These benchmark rates can help you know what to expect, but to get the best rates possible, you’ll want to compare car insurance quotes.
How to save on full coverage insurance
Shop around. To find cheap full coverage insurance, it’s important to shop around. Compare rates with at least three companies to find the cheapest rate for you.
Look for discounts. There are car insurance discounts for everything from getting good grades to owning a new car. Call your agent to confirm what’s offered to maximize your savings.
Consider increasing your deductible. One way to lower your car insurance bill is by raising the deductible, or what you pay before insurance kicks in. Doing this will lower the overall cost of your policy, although savings vary by company.
Frequently asked questions
Despite the name, full coverage insurance doesn’t include everything. Depending on your state minimums, coverage that might not be considered full coverage include:
Policies with full coverage pay out if your car is damaged, while minimum insurance typically only covers damage to another car or person. If you don’t want to be stuck paying for damage to your car, or wouldn’t be able to afford it, you may want to pay for extra coverage. In particular, drivers who live in areas with extreme weather conditions, own an expensive vehicle or have a high-traffic commute might benefit from full coverage insurance. Shop around for car insurance quotes to find the best full coverage insurance for you.
Full coverage isn’t a specific policy, but generally includes several types of coverage including liability insurance, comprehensive and collision coverage and any other coverage needed to meet the state’s minimum insurance requirements.
If you have an older car, and it isn’t worth much more than your deductible, consider dropping comprehensive and collision coverage. But remember, if you have a car loan or lease, your contract may require you to have full coverage insurance.