Many people don’t realize there are different types of car insurance coverage until they have to shop for their own policy. The options can be confusing and overwhelming. Your car is one of the most expensive things you own, and you know an accident could be expensive, so you want to choose the right coverage. But what in the world is uninsured motorist coverage? What about collision coverage? Do they cover the same things, and do you need both? Let’s take a look.
What is collision insurance?
Collision coverage pays for repairs if a crash damages your car, regardless of who caused the accident, whether they have insurance or not. You’ll be responsible for paying the deductible first, which is typically $250-$1000. Then, your insurance company will pay for repairs up to the current value of your vehicle. If your car is totaled, which means it would cost more to repair than its value minus your deductible, you’ll get a check for that instead, which you can put towards a new car.
If you have an older car, you may decide collision insurance isn’t worth paying for. However, If you finance or lease your car, your lender will probably require it.
What does uninsured motorist and underinsured coverage pay for?
Plenty of people drive around without car insurance, even though that’s illegal in most places. If you’re in an accident with one of them and they’re at fault (or it’s a hit and run), uninsured motorist coverage pays for your injuries and property damage.
Similarly, if a driver with low insurance limits is at fault for hitting you, and you have underinsured motorist coverage on your policy at higher limits than theirs, your underinsured coverage will pay for your injuries and damages.
Some states combine uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage into a single coverage while others keep them separate. Just ask your insurance agent. They’ll make sure you have the coverages you need.
How to buy uninsured motorist coverage
There are two kinds of uninsured motorist coverage:
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) coverage - available in all states
- Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage - available in some states
UMBI pays for your injuries, while UMPD pays for damage to your car. UMBI is required in many states. Even where it’s optional, you may need to sign a form verifying that it was offered to you if you choose not to buy it. UMPD varies more, in part because it partially overlaps with collision coverage – UMPD covers damage to your car, but only if an uninsured driver is at fault.
This is why UMPD is often not required or even not available. If you want to protect your car, collision coverage is a better choice, since it kicks in regardless of who hits your car and their insurance policy.
Underinsured motorist coverage, if it’s available, follows the same pattern. Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) covers your injuries if you’re hit by a driver without enough insurance. Similarly, underinsured motorist physical damage covers damage to your car by a driver with too little insurance.
Collision vs comprehensive: what’s the difference?
Collision and comprehensive coverage both cover damage to your car. But the types of damage they cover are different. As you now know, collision coverage applies to car damage from an accident, regardless of whose fault the accident was.
Comprehensive coverage picks up where collision coverage leaves off. It covers sudden car damage that isn’t from a crash. Comprehensive coverage applies to damage from severe weather, thieves and vandals, flooding, or other disasters. It also covers damage from crashes with animals.
Cost of liability, collision, and comprehensive coverages
Collision and comprehensive coverage, along with liability coverage (and usually including uninsured motorist), make up the trifecta insurers call “full coverage insurance.” If you lease your car, the dealership likely requires full coverage insurance. The same is true of your lender if you took out a loan to finance your car.
The average annual cost of full coverage insurance is $2,014. However, prices can vary a lot. Factors like where you live, the age and model of the car you’re insuring, your driving record, credit score, and the deductibles and coverage limits you choose all affect the cost of full coverage insurance.
Which coverage do I need?
It depends on your situation. Most states require liability insurance. In addition, your state or auto lender might require you to get uninsured motorist insurance and/or full coverage insurance.
If you own your car outright and your state doesn’t require both UMBI and UMPD, it’s up to you. To protect an expensive car, or because you live somewhere prone to auto accidents, you might want to get the maximum coverage by combining full coverage with plenty of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If your car has a low actual cash value, perhaps because it’s old, you might choose to go without comprehensive and collision coverage.
Still not sure what you need? Contact us for help getting a quote or selecting coverages.