What is collision insurance?
Last updated: July 2023
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.
What does collision insurance cover?
Collision insurance helps pay to repair or replace your vehicle if it's damaged from:
- A collision with another vehicle
- A collision with an object, such as a fence or tree
- A single-car accident that involves rolling or falling over
What is not covered by collision insurance?
Collision insurance does not cover:
- Damage to your vehicle not related to driving (examples: hail or theft)
- Damage to another person's vehicle
- Medical bills (yours or another person's)
Collision coverage deductibles and limits
Collision coverage has a deductible, which is the amount you pay before your coverage helps pay for your claim. You can typically choose the amount of your collision deductible when you buy coverage.
Depending on your insurer, you may have several deductible amounts to choose from — typically $0, $500 or $1,000. If you choose a lower deductible, your premium will likely increase. Likewise, If you choose a higher deductible, your premium may decrease. Keep in mind, however, you will have to pay your deductible out of pocket toward car repairs as part of a covered claim. So, if you choose a $1,000 deductible and your car is later damaged in a covered accident, you'd have to pay $1,000 toward repair costs. Common deductibles generally range from $250 to $1,000, however, the value of your car is an important factor to keep in mind when determining your deductible amount.
Collision coverage has a limit, which is the maximum amount your policy will pay toward a covered claim. Your collision coverage limit is typically the actual cash value of your vehicle (its value minus depreciation).
For example, say your car is totaled in a covered collision. Your insurer would cut you a check for the car's depreciated value, minus your deductible. Keep in mind that "depreciated value" means you may not be able to replace your old vehicle with one of a newer make and model. You'd likely have to use some of your own money to do that.
Why buy collision coverage?
If you owe money on your car, or if you're leasing it, collision coverage usually isn't optional; most lenders and lease holders require it. If your car is paid off, however, you can choose whether to buy collision coverage.
One thing to consider: How much it would cost to repair or replace your vehicle if it were damaged or destroyed in an accident. If you couldn't afford to fix your car or buy a new one after a wreck, purchasing collision coverage could give you some peace of mind.