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What is full coverage car insurance?

Combine liability, collision and comprehensive to have wide protection for you and your car.

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You’ll come across the term full coverage when comparing car insurance, although it refers to several types of coverage put together. However, not every policy labeled as full coverage has the same protection, and you still might need other coverage add-ons for the best coverage for your needs.

What is full coverage car insurance?

Full coverage refers to a car insurance policy that includes liability, collision and comprehensive coverage. By bundling these types of coverage, your policy provides wide protection in case of an accident. The term full coverage technically isn’t a type of coverage or insurance in itself.

However, some car insurance companies interpret full coverage differently. To avoid overpaying for insurance you don’t need, ask for a policy breakdown to understand what you’re paying for.

What does full coverage car insurance consist of?

Full coverage typically refers to these three types of coverage:

  1. Third-party liability insurance is the legally required minimum car insurance. It covers injuries and damage you cause to other people and their property in an accident. It usually encompasses bodily injury and property damage liability.
  2. Collision insurance pays to repair or replace your car if you collide with another car or object, like a tree or telephone pole. It covers you regardless of who’s at fault.
  3. Comprehensive coverage pays to repair or replace your car if it’s stolen or damaged by an incident beyond your control, like vandalism, flooding, a falling object or an animal.

Together, these three types of coverage protect your car and take care of any damage you cause to other people. But the term full coverage is misleading because most car insurance companies offer a long list of other types of coverage.

How much is full coverage car insurance?

The average cost of full coverage car insurance runs around $264 per month, or $3,168 every year. In this case, full coverage means what you’d expect – all provincially-mandated liability coverage as well as comprehensive and collision. For context, a comparable liability-only policy costs around $207 per month, or $2,480 every year. But you can often find a cheaper full coverage policy by shopping around and qualifying for discounts.

What’s not included in full coverage?

Full coverage doesn’t include these types of coverage that you may or may not consider important:

  • Personal injury protection (PIP). Covers post-accident medical expenses for you and your passengers. PIP may be mandatory in the province or territory where you live, and can either supplement your health insurance by paying bills that your health insurance doesn’t cover.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist. Kicks in to help pay for the bills if you’re in an accident with someone who has little to no insurance. This is also required in most provinces and territories.
  • Emergency roadside assistance. Provides towing, labor and other roadside assistance after an accident or collision.
  • Customized parts and equipment. Have you updated your car with a top-of-the-line sound system or special rims? Full coverage insurance won’t replace or repair those features after an accident, but this policy add-on will.
  • Rental car. Reimburses you for rental car costs after an accident.
  • Gap. If you finance your car, this helps pay off your auto loan if your car is totaled.

How to decide if full coverage is right for you

If you own an old car and you can deal with a stolen, damaged or totaled car out of pocket, you might get by with less car insurance coverage like liability only. The same goes if you don’t drive much or live in an area where theft and vandalism are rare.

On the other hand, if you own a new or expensive car, you might want full coverage to protect your investment. The question is all about how much risk you’re willing to take. Say you buy a $20,000 car in cash. Even if you have the cash to replace it, lowering your car insurance coverage is a risky move when full coverage costs several hundred extra dollars a year.

You want to find the sweet spot between the coverage you need and what you can afford to pay in the worst-case scenario.

Who needs full coverage

You might invest in full coverage car insurance if these situations apply to you:

  • You drive a car with a lease or loan.
  • You drive a luxury, classic or expensive car.
  • You own a car with a high theft rate.
  • You live in a place known for theft, vandalism or extreme weather.
  • You commute long distances or in heavy traffic.
  • You can afford the extra coverage.
  • You want extra peace of mind about your car’s protection.

Who should avoid full coverage

It depends on how much risk you’re willing to take on. While full coverage insurance is expensive, it offers extensive protection. But it may not make sense to buy full coverage if:

  • Your car’s value doesn’t outweigh the cost of coverage.
  • You own your car in full and aren’t required to carry the extra coverage.
  • Your savings could cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car.
  • You don’t drive often.
  • You’re on a tight budget.

Do I need full coverage insurance for a financed car?

Yes, your lender will likely require you to maintain full coverage insurance if you’re still paying off the loan. This well-rounded insurance policy covers the investment your lender or bank has made in your car.

After you’ve paid off your loan and you own the car outright, you can choose to drop collision or comprehensive coverage. You’ll still need your provincial or territorial minimum required insurance.

Do I need full coverage on a used car?

It depends on the value of the car and your own finances. For example, if you bought a $2,000 car for local store runs, you might not want full coverage since the extra coverage plus your deductible probably costs more than the car is worth.

However, if you buy any car that you can’t afford to replace out of pocket, consider full coverage to foot the bill if your car gets totaled.

How to find cheap full coverage car insurance quotes

When comparing quotes for full coverage auto insurance, make sure you’re asking for the same coverage levels across all your quotes. This helps you compare apples to apples, finding the policy with the best benefits and price.

Read through the quote you get carefully. Some companies automatically include certain policy add-ons in the quote they give you, which can further bump up the price. Make sure you know exactly what coverage your quote includes in order to accurately compare between different quotes and find the cheapest option.

Be prepared for quotes with this info handy:

  • Coverage amounts and deductibles
  • Add-ons and extras you want
  • Driving history and personal information

Bottom line

For car insurance shoppers, full coverage is a term that may cause confusion. What it encompasses varies by insurer, but typically it refers to policies that include liability, collision and comprehensive protection.

To figure out if full coverage is for you, consider your budget, car and driving style. It suits some people, but it’s not worth the cost for others.

Shop around and compare car insurance quotes to find the best coverage for you.

Frequently asked questions about full coverage car insurance

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