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.
We collected quotes from a variety of insurance companies across 2,700 towns and cities in the U.S, for 128 insurance companies. Our sample driver was a 30 year old male who drove a 2011 Toyota Camry. To obtain quotes, we kept parameters for getting coverage the same, such as that he was single, and had a clean driving record. The only parameter that changed was the zip code where he lived in the U.S. The amount of coverage we opted for gave our driver bit more than what is required of state minimums.
NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women for 20 ZIP codes in each state and Washington, D.C., from the largest insurers, up to 12 in each state. “Good drivers” had no moving violations on record and credit in the “good” tier as reported to each insurer. For the other two driver profiles, we changed the credit tier to “poor” or added one at-fault accident, keeping everything else the same. Sample drivers had the following coverage limits:

Cash in on major life changes. Certain life events could translate to cheaper car insurance, so shop for quotes whenever something major changes in your life. For instance, many companies offer a lower rate for married couples or domestic partners. Or perhaps you moved to a suburb with lower accident and crime rates. If your risk for accidents goes down, your rates just might, too.
If your car is worth more than $3,000 and/or is less than 10 years old, we'd also suggest both collision and comprehensive coverage, too. Our estimates suggest drivers can buy comprehensive and collision insurance for an average of $600 to $700 per year (however, the cost may be higher for some cars), so you would spend $3,000 to $3,500 in premiums over five years. If your car is currently worth less than $3,000, you will have spent more on insurance than your car is worth. You can obtain the estimated value of your car from sites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds. Once you have both the value and a quote for coverage, you can determine whether collision insurance will be worth it.
Also known as AARP, The Hartford was the recipient of the 2016 J.D. Power study for car insurance companies ability to handle claims. The Hartford scored 5/5 stars for nearly every step of the claims process; from notifying them, to the repair process, and the final settlement. Those who think a smooth claims process is the most important factor for car insurance, The Hartford should definitely be considered.
Detail how the accident occurred, the injuries or damages you’ve sustained and (if applicable) the dollar amount you are claiming. Gather relevant records related to the car accident, be they medical bills, repair estimates, or police reports. Give the insurance adjuster all the reasons in the world to pay out on your claim. You may wish to retain an attorney to assist you with making the claim if you are uncomfortable doing it yourself, or if things get particularly contentious.

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.
The Insurance Information Institute suggests that you take the amount you'd pay in one year for comprehensive and collision coverage, and multiply that number by 10. Is your car worth less than that number? Then comprehensive and collision coverage might not be a cost-effective option for you. In other words, you might want to talk to your agent about whether it makes sense to include these coverages on your car insurance policy.
×