Auto insurance is financial protection, and not just for the investment you made when you bought your car. After a really serious accident, bills for damage and injuries can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you happen to cause such a wreck, the victims could sue you. In the worst case scenario, assets such as your savings and home could be seized.
Let's use the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy as an example to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two events that might have happened: 1) a heavy tree branch fell on your car, or 2) you swerved to avoid a falling tree branch and wound up crashing into a tree. In the first event, you had no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and ultimately swerved into the tree, which makes it a collision, and collision insurance therefore pays for the damages. Events like the hypothetical ones stated above are why it's important to differentiate between the two types of coverage.
It’s important to note that every company considers credit very differently, and even among insurers this factor fluctuates by state. For example, NerdWallet’s 2019 car insurance rate analysis indicates that while State Farm charges higher rates for poor credit in many states, it doesn’t seem to do so in Maine. Similar variations are true for many other companies as well.
There is a case to be made for getting just comprehensive and not collision insurance, even if your car is not valuable. Comprehensive covers you for a lot more perils than does collision--including, most importantly, against theft. Regardless of the value of your car, having it stolen is a major inconvenience. Even if your car is worth only $2,000 at the time of the theft, and your insurer gives you $1,500, that sum would go a long way in buying yourself a new vehicle. As we discuss in more detail below, comprehensive insurance generally costs no more than $200 per year, so a $1,500 reimbursement would make the coverage valuable.
On average, an at-fault property damage accident will raise your premium by an average of $612 per year. Because most insurance providers will charge you for three years after an accident, this $612 increase equates to more than $1,800 in total fees. If you’re thinking of filing a claim, consider the overall cost of the claim versus what the claim would cost to pay out of pocket. Compare this $1,837 penalty — plus your deductible (if applicable) — to the out-of-pocket expense. While this is nice information to know before filing a claim, it won’t help if you’ve already filed a claim. If you have an at-fault accident on your insurance history, consider USAA or State Farm.
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
If you’ve recently purchased a new vehicle, you know that in order to drive in most states, you need to purchase a basic type of car insurance, but you may be overwhelmed by your coverage options. Comprehensive and collision are the two types of physical damage coverage available on car insurance policies. Both play an important role in keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape. Minor dents and dings all the way up to full-blown car crunching can be repaired, or the insurance company can at least pay out enough money to make you whole again.
Additional living expenses, or loss-of-use coverage is typically a fixed amount – 20% of your dwelling coverage. However, if you live in an area prone to wildfires or hurricanes, it's worth checking with your insurer to see if they offer higher coverage limits in the event a catastrophe forces you from your home for an extended period. Additional living expenses can add up, so it may be worth the added peace of mind to increase this coverage component.
You should also look into how the company handles the claims process, as the single biggest indicator of home insurance customer satisfaction is the company’s damage estimates. If they have a reputation for not covering the agreed-upon replacement costs of property or dropping customers from their policy for filing a single claim, you should probably avoid that company.
Still, the State Farm quotes we received were shockingly expensive when compared to the competition — typically around three times as much. While that’s likely a dealbreaker for most, it’s worth checking personalized quotes yourself, especially if you have a teen driver (for whom they seem to offer more discounts than our other picks). Another point in State Farm’s favor is its website, which is good at helping you understand which coverages best fit your specific needs. We would’ve liked a Live Chat feature, but there are plenty of contact alternatives, including a mobile app.
If you’ve ever compared car insurance rates, you know how many options are available. Depending on a variety of individual rating factors, certain companies will price your insurance differently. You could end up paying more by choosing the wrong company or failing to compare enough companies. We've outlined the factors that go into your car insurance premiums, as well as some tips for how to find the best possible rates. Let’s get started.
Collision insurance is a coverage that helps pay to repair or replace your car if it's damaged in an accident with another vehicle or object, such as a fence or a tree. If you're leasing or financing your car, collision coverage is typically required by the lender. If your car is paid off, collision is an optional coverage on your car insurance policy.