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Compare full coverage vs. liability car insurance
One policy offers more coverage, while the other brings down your insurance rate.
If you’re looking for lifelong insurance coverage, consider either whole life insurance or variable life insurance. Both are permanent policies, but whole life insurance grows its cash value more reliably than variable life insurance.
Full coverage vs. liability car insurance
Full coverage is a car insurance term used by consumers that means a policy with liability coverage as well as comprehensive and collision. Liability car insurance refers to a policy with only liability coverage.
Get an idea of what both policies cover before deciding which one suits you:
|Type of coverage||Full coverage policy||Liability only policy|
|Injuries, car or property damage you cause to another driver|
|Physical damage to your car when you’re at fault|
|Theft or vandalism|
|State minimum requirements||Not always—some states also require underinsured motorist or personal injury protection||Not always—some states also require underinsured motorist or personal injury protection|
|Gap||Only if added separately|
|Rental car reimbursement||Only if added separately|
|Roadside assistance||Only as a free perk or if added separately|
Extras included with full coverage
Buying a full coverage policy means you’ll get liability protection, plus:
- Comprehensive to cover damage from theft, vandalism or storms like hail or windstorms
- Collision to cover repairs or replacement of your car if you’re at fault in an accident
- Towing or roadside service is included as a free perk with some companies
- Windshield damage may get repaired without upfront costs to you
How much does full coverage vs. liability cost?
If you go for a full coverage policy, expect it to set you back $1,430 per year or $119 per month. That cost accounts for an extra $130 for comprehensive and $300 for collision coverage.
A car insurance policy with only liability insurance costs around $1,000 each year, or $83 per month.
When do I need full coverage or liability car insurance?
A full coverage policy works best if you:
- Want protection for your own car’s physical damage
- Have a car loan or lease that requires it
A liability policy works best if you:
- Can’t afford more coverage
- Premium is high from violations or lack of experience
- Drive an old car and full coverage isn’t worth the cost
- Have another way of getting around in a pinch
When you’re deciding between well-stocked coverage or the bare minimum, balance these three main factors:
1. What’s required
If your state or car loan requires coverage beyond liability insurance, you must buy the coverage required. Otherwise, you risk getting uninsured driver penalties or your lender using forced-place insurance.
2. Your car’s value
Consider the cost of the extra coverage compared to your car’s value and your chance of using that coverage. If you’ve only filed one claim in your life and currently own a low-dollar car, extra coverage might not be worth the higher price tag.
And if adding comprehensive and collision would cost more than your car’s worth, you may be better off without them.
3. Your bank account
Keep a balanced perspective on what you can afford. Even if you don’t own the fanciest car, wide coverage could benefit you if you can’t pay to replace your car after an accident.
In this case, you might add extras like full coverage until you save enough to comfortably drop the coverage from your policy. Re-evaluating your policy yearly helps you determine the right time to adjust your coverage.
Pros and cons of full coverage vs. liability
Other benefits and drawbacks:
- Covers your car’s damage, no matter who’s at fault
- May include free perks, like windshield repairs
- Should meet your car loan or lease requirements
- Can add over $400 to your premium over liability
- You may not use the extra coverage
- Could cost more than an older car is worth
- May require you to pay a deductible upfront before insurance kicks in
Liability only coverage
- Protects you if other drivers or passengers take you to court
- Typically comes with a low premium
- Eliminates coverage you may not use
- May not cover serious damage to your car
- Won’t cover your car for at-fault accidents, theft or weather damage
- May not meet your state’s car insurance requirements
When should I drop full coverage on my car?
Full coverage is meant to protect you financially if your car gets damaged, whether you or another driver causes the damage. Reasons you might consider dropping full coverage:
- Most or all of your car loan is paid
- You drive an older or less valuable vehicle
- You have other ways of getting around
- You can take on the financial risks of repairing or replacing your car
Compare car insurance companies and their coverage
Full coverage and liability-only policies serve different purposes for car insurance. A full coverage policy offers broad physical damage protection, while liability-only insurance stands as a low-cost option with less coverage for your car’s physical damage.
Shop for the coverage level of your choice or get quotes for both full and liability coverage to see which companies give you the most bang for your buck.
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