What is Full Coverage Car Insurance?

Alexandre Desoutter Alexandre Desoutter  updated on June 4, 2020

You’re looking for car insurance and you’ve been advised to purchase full coverage auto insurance. 

It seems like a great option, right? One policy that covers anything that could befall you in your car—hence the term “full coverage”. 

But what exactly is it and what are the benefits of full coverage vs liability insurance? 

This article will tell you everything you need to know about full coverage auto insurance. We’ll give you tips on getting a premium that fits your budget and how to tailor the coverage you need. Let’s read.

What exactly is full coverage auto insurance?

There isn’t an actual policy called “full coverage insurance”. Actually, full coverage is a combination of different types of coverages which together result in being fully covered in the event of an accident

Full coverage car insurance doesn’t actually exist. Think of it more as ordering “a la carte” from a menu to create your personalized meal; you have a choice of several levels of coverage which, when combined, offer you maximum protection. 

The idea behind full coverage insurance is to ensure that you, others and your vehicles are protected against the cost of damages, regardless of the accident or no fault incident.

The cost of damages from an accident or incident can be very high and if you have to pay for those repairs completely out of pocket, that can be financially crippling to most. For this reason, the idea of a policy that completely protects you no matter what, is very attractive. 

However, there is no one size fits all pre-made solution that exists.

What does full coverage insurance cover?

 A solid insurance package to protect you and your passengers can be built using the following levels of coverage:

Type of car insuranceDetails
Liability car Insurance
  • Covers the cost of damages and injuries when the accident is your fault. It is car insurance coverage for any injuries to the other party in the event of a covered accident in which you’re found at fault.
  • This level of insurance is mandatory, unlike the other two types of coverage(Collision and Comprehensive).
  • Liability insurance protects you against claims resulting from injuries or damage you may inflict on people and/or property during an accident.
  • Liability insurance normally covers both legal costs and any payouts you would be responsible for if you are found legally liable. Please note that intentional damage would not be covered in this policy.
Collision car insurance
  • Covers the cost of damages to your vehicle as a result of an accident whether the accident is your fault or not. Coverage for damage to your vehicle in a collision.
  • So, for example, if you’re heading home from a movie, are still pondering your favorite scenes and characters, and you accidentally rear-end someone, collision insurance can help cover your costs of repair.
  • It does not cover the other party’s vehicle or bodily injuries however, so this is where liability insurance would come in.
Comprehensive car insurance
  • Covers the cost of damages out of your control, not caused by an accident Ex: Vandalism, theft, bad weather, angry squirrel etc.Covers qualified damage to your vehicle not caused by a collision with another vehicle.
  • Comprehensive coverage is sometimes known as “other than collision” (OTC) and covers non-collision related claims. So, if your car gets vandalized, stolen, damaged in bad weather, or attacked by an angry squirrel, comprehensive insurance will likely have you covered.
  • You would need to pay your deductible for comprehensive coverage but since non-collision incidents are not the result of driver error, rates are typically not raised after a comprehensive claim.
Full coverage package

Which extras can be included in your full coverage policy?

There are other coverages you could add to your policy to design a full suite of protection. In addition to liability, comprehensive and collision coverage, these could include:

ExtrasDetails
Accident forgivenessThis protects your driving record from being negatively affected by the insurance company’s rating system for an at-fault accident. This, therefore, prevents your insurance premium from increasing.
Gap (Guaranteed Asset Protection) insuranceIn the event that your vehicle is totaled, Gap insurance covers the difference between the actual cash value of the car and the remaining balance on your financing. 
Personal injury protection (PIP)This insurance covers the costs of injuries you sustain in a crash, regardless of who’s at fault. PIP may be required in “no fault” states.
Uninsured motorist coverageThis covers you for bodily injury and property damage costs if another driver injures you or your car in an accident (at fault) and does not have car insurance. This coverage may be required in some states so be sure to check.
Underinsured motorist coverageThis will reimburse you for expenses resulting from an accident where an at-fault driver does have car insurance, but their limits are not sufficiently high to cover your costs.
Roadside assistance and towingCan’t change a flat tire to save your life? This coverage can come in very handy if you’re ever stranded and need help.
Rental car reimbursementIf your vehicle is ever out of commission for a period of time and you need to rent a car, this coverage will reimburse you for all or some of the cost, depending on the level you select.
Custom coverage for partsSpent a lot on customizing your baby? Then you might want to consider insurance that specifically covers those pricey parts.
Car insurance Extras

What is not included in full coverage car insurance? 

Now that you have an idea of what full coverage insurance consists of, you may be wondering what isn’t included in full coverage. 

The coverage that is excluded from full coverage car insurance will vary slightly from company to company but generally, the following incidents will not be covered by full coverage insurance:

  • If you use your car for racing, this will not be covered by full coverage insurance. So, reenacting scenes from The Fast and The Furious could cost you big.
  • If your car is damaged in war or by nuclear disaster. Unlikely to happen–and not covered by full coverage insurance.
  • If your car is seized by the government for any reason, especially if criminal, any damage sustained would not be covered.
  • If you take your vehicle “off-road. Full coverage auto insurance covers accidents on the road so driving your car anywhere else would not be covered.
  • If you use the vehicle in a car sharing program. This is a great way to make extra money with your vehicle but it is not covered by full coverage insurance.
  • If you use your car for business use such as deliveries, damage sustained would not be covered by full coverage car insurance.

To get the most accurate information on what is and isn’t included in your full coverage auto insurance, you should contact insurance providers directly for a free full coverage quote.

To summarize, you will find in this table what is and what is not included in full coverage car insurance:

DetailsLiabilityCollisionComprehensive
FreezingNoNoNo
Wear and tear NoNoNo
Damages caused to a vehicle in case of rear ending someoneYesNoNo
Damages caused to my vehicle in case of rear ending someone NoYesNo
Damages caused to my vehicle by running into somethingNoYesNo
Collision with an animal NoNoYes
Rental car when yours is being repairedNoNoNo
Personal injuries to selfNoNoNo
Personal injuries to third party YesNoNo
Damage caused to third party vehiclesYesNoNo
Mechanical breakdownNoNoNo
What is not included in full coverage car insurance

Use our comparison tool now and get your personalized rates based on YOUR situation!

Where to get the best full coverage car insurance deal?

The “best”car  insurance for you will of course depend on your specific circumstances, but we’ve rounded up some national estimates for the cost of full coverage insurance across the major insurance providers.

These annual averages are for a policy that includes liability, collision and comprehensive coverages. The sample driver is between 40-45 years old, has no moving violations and has a good credit score. 

Company$500 Deductible$1,000 Deductible
logo usaa$1,235 $1,122 
logo liberty mutual$1,470 $1,304 
state farm logo$1,530 $1,490 
progressive logo$1,712 $1,535 
nationwide logo$1,770 $1,600 
geico png$2,024 $1,780 
farmers insurance$2,025 $1,890 
allstates logo$2,672 $2,472 
Full coverage car insurance cost

 *USAA is available to active duty military, veterans and their families only.

As you can imagine, adding collision and comprehensive coverage is more expensive than carrying only the state minimum amount of liability coverage. 

Our table breaks down these differences in cost across the largest insurance companies at two deductible levels. The annual cost data is sorted from least expensive company, to most expensive. Hopefully, this will help you locate the cheapest full coverage car insurance.

Ideally, after you’ve made your “full coverage” selections, you should now be protected by the types and amounts that are appropriate for your income, assets and risk profile. This is very important in order to avoid being financially ruined in the event of an accident.

How much is full coverage car insurance going to cost me? 

As you now know, “full coverage” insurance is a myth. But you can still build a dependable auto insurance package that protects you and others in the event of incidents on and off the road. 

So for example, for a sample driver between 40-45 years old, with no moving violations and credit falling in the “good” tier, the average cost of a full coverage car insurance policy is:

Average Full Coverage Cost at $500 DeductibleAverage Full Coverage Cost at $1000 deductible
$1804$1649
Full coverage average cost

What does full coverage car insurance cost? Is there such a thing as cheap full coverage auto insurance? Well, the answer is tricky because the cost will depend on a number of variables. 

These variables include:

  • Your age
  • Your driving record
  • Your location
  • The kind of car you drive
  • The policy type(s) you choose
  • Your deductible
  • Your policy limit(s)

Each insurance company will use a different combination of criteria in determining your rate; most insurance companies will use your credit score in calculating your risk and therefore the cost of your insurance. It is really important to shop around to find the most affordable car insurance possible. 

What is the cost of full coverage car insurance by state? 

Your average annual premium will also fluctuate from state to state and even from zip code to zip code. Factors such as the amount of traffic and the level of crime (theft) will also affect the cost of your auto insurance premium.  

Each state has its own set of requirements when it comes to minimum coverage. Be sure to check your state’s minimum coverage requirements before choosing between a liability or full coverage policy.

So how much more will full coverage cost over minimum coverage by state? We’ve created the table below to give you an idea:

State (least to most expensive)Average Full Coverage CostAverage Minimum Coverage Cost
Maine$894$375
North Carolina$975$395
Idaho$987$395
Iowa$1010$322
Washington$1026$505
Wisconsin$1041$463
Vermont$1079$383
Ohio$1120$517
New Hampshire$1122$471
Nebraska$1124$420
Wyoming$1125$312
Virginia$1136$477
Indiana$1139$461
South Dakota$1152$323
North Dakota$1238$402
Massachusetts$1267$544
Montana$1274$408
Alaska$1279$443
Pennsylvania$1295$474
Hawaii$1309$499
South Carolina$1319$569
Arkansas$1383$495
Utah$1397$699
Illinois$1436$645
Tennessee$1442$471
Alabama$1465$519
Mississippi$1475$520
West Virginia$1487$600
Missouri$1518$621
Kansas$1535$572
Arizona$1546$652
New Mexico$1567$551
Oklahoma$1593$519
Minnesota$1670$829
District of Columbia$1695$792
Oregon$1755$1059
California$1814$628
Georgia$1918$791
Texas$1931$723
Maryland$1968$1074
Kentucky$2004$866
Connecticut$2036$944
Colorado$2062$678
Rhode Island$2156$922
New Jersey$2170$1276
Florida$2408$1137
Nevada$2411$973
Delaware$2441$1205
New York$2644$1445
Louisiana$3675$1164
Michigan$4076$2505

Ultimately, no single insurer in any state will offer the most affordable full coverage quotes for everyone, so it’s best to use our analysis as a starting point to shop around for the cheapest full coverage auto insurance available to you.

How to shop around for full coverage insurance

Shop around will ensure that you are finding the best solution for your situation and at the best price. 

When searching for cheap full coverage insurance, you should compare apples to apples. Here are a few tips to employ:

  • Set consistent liability limits: select the same amounts for bodily injury liability per person, bodily injury per accident and property damage liability per accident across insurers.
  • Set the same deductible for comprehensive and collision insurance: you’ll find that increasing your deductible lowers the cost of your policy and vice versa.
  • Set the same coverage limits for all other coverages, including adds-on such as personal injury protection: naturally, additional protection cost more money so keep the playing field even and help yourself find cheap full coverage car insurance.

Use our comparator tool to compare companies quotes. You’ll find that you can come up with a pretty accurate idea of the cost of the coverage you need once you enter all the relevant variables for your particular situation. This takes most of the guesswork and stress out of finding the best priced auto insurance coverage for you.

What is the difference between minimum and full coverage car insurance? 

Minimum coverage means protecting your vehicle at the legally required level and nothing more. 

This is of course different than attempting to ensure that every possible accident scenario is included in your coverage. 

But what does this difference mean to your wallet? The cost difference between liability insurance only, and full coverage insurance will vary from company to company, state to state and even from person to person. 

Take a look at our data below for a comparison of liability vs. full coverage average quotes across major and smaller insurance providers. 

Company (least expensive to most)Average annual rate for full coverageAverage annual rate for minimum coverage
erie insurance logo$769$293
logo usaa$894$317
american family logo$1,212$550
country financial logo$1,246$682
travelers logo$1,277$635
metlife logo$1,291$468
state farm logo$1,335$592
amica logo$1,358$538
nationwide logo$1,507$769
21st century logo$1,508$636
auto owners logo$1,543$568
geico png 1$1,625$612
shelter logo$1,651$666
progressive logo$1,826$771
farmers insurance 1$1,853$848
mercury logo$1,893$722
allstates logo 1$1,962$870
safeco insurance 2$2,043$786
esurance logo 1$2,086$1,195
logo liberty mutual$2,750$1,144
Price difference between full coverage and minimum coverage

Looking at the differences in cost, it’s easy to understand why many people will keep only the required minimum level of insurance on their vehicle. 

Is full coverage car insurance mandatory? 

No, it’s not. 

Every state requires you to have proof of financial responsibility (usually liability insurance) to cover costs in the event of an accident. The amount required for liability insurance will vary from state to state and will also vary based on your demographic information (age, driving record, type of car etc.) Even though full coverage insurance is not mandatory, it could be a it’s a wise move in making sure that an accident doesn’t ruin you financially.

When is it recommended to obtain full coverage car insurance?

So when is it actually recommended to pay the additional cost for full coverage insurance? There are a few factors you can consider in helping you make that decision:

  • If your car is new and financed, you should have full coverage
  • If you lease a vehicle, you do not own it and do not have the option of forgoing full protection
  • If the vehicle is driven by young drivers, full coverage protection may be a good idea

On the other hand, you may consider dropping comprehensive and collision insurance:

  • When you’re at the point financially where you can replace your car without the assistance of insurance
  • If your car is nearing end-of-life. The value of your car decreases each year so at a certain point, most drivers choose to accept the risk and save the amount that a full coverage premium would cost them monthly. This is because they would likely be unable to reliably replace their car with the amount from the insurance payout. 

For example, let’s say that your car is worth $4,500. The “actual cash value” an insurance company would pay. Let’s also say that your current policy for full coverage costs $450 monthly and includes a $500 deductible. If your car were totaled (destroyed beyond repair in an accident), then you would get a check for $4,000 – the actual cash value of the car minus your $500 deductible. Basically, you’re paying $450 monthly to protect yourself against a $4000 loss.

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