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What is Full Coverage Car Insurance?

  January 21st, 2019  By Maggie Overholt

What Is ‘Full Coverage’ Car Insurance?

Full coverage car insurance is a loose term. It’s often used to describe policies that include collision, comprehensive, and liability coverage — but that definition can vary by provider. Instead of buying “full coverage” car insurance at face value, take a close look at your policy and make sure it includes all the protections you need.

What Does True Full Coverage Look Like?

For your car insurance to truly be “full coverage,” it needs to protect you, your passengers, and your vehicle, no matter what happens. For most people, full coverage car insurance will include these five categories:

  • Liability — Covers the other person’s damages and medical bills if you’re at fault in an accident
  • Collision — Covers repairs to your car if you hit another vehicle or run into an object (like a pole, tree, or barrier)
  • Comprehensive — Covers repairs to your car if it’s damaged by anything other than a collision (theft, vandalism, flooding, violent hail storms, etc.)
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) — Covers repairs and medical bills if you’re hit by someone who doesn’t have enough (or any) insurance to cover it
  • MedPay/Personal Injury Protection (PIP) — Covers your own or your passengers’ injuries if you’re involved in an accident

The five items listed above make up your core policy. They’ll cover the bulk of incidents that most drivers face, from head-on collisions to side-swipes, break-ins, and cases of a-tree-branch-fell-on-my-car.

That said, each driver is unique, and “full coverage” for you may go beyond the basics. That’s where supplemental coverage comes in. Most car insurance companies offer plenty of add-ons to bolster your policy — whether you need gap coverage to protect an auto loan, ridesharing coverage for driving Lyft or Uber, or parts and equipment coverage to insure your souped-up stereo system.

How Do I Get Full Coverage Car Insurance?

The first step to full coverage car insurance is taking stock of your needs. What’s unique about you or your vehicle that might require specialized coverage? Do you use it for delivery driving or ridesharing? Have you added custom parts that would be expensive to replace? Do you drive around with your pup in the car on a regular basis? (Yep, pet injuries can be covered under car insurance, too.)

The second part of full coverage is choosing the right limits. Minimum coverage requirements are set at the state level, but it’s usually best to go beyond your state’s minimums and opt for better protection. Why? Because medical bills and damages can easily surpass state limits. Just think: If you hit a luxury car worth $50,000 and your property damage liability maxes out at $10,000 (a fairly common limit), you’ll be on the hook for the remaining $40,000.

Go over these different scenarios with your agent and walk through the coverage options and levels you might need. If you feel like anything’s missing, try speaking with an independent agent — they represent more than one company and will help you find a provider that fits the bill.

What’s Next?

  • Still trying to wrap your head around auto insurance? Start with our car insurance buyer’s guide for the full story on coverage, rates, and choosing a provider.
  • Once you reach the shopping-around stage, check out our review of the best auto insurance companies to feel out which ones might be a good fit for you.
  • And before you buy? Spend a few minutes learning about the best ways to lower your premium. (Spoiler: Shopping around and driving safely pay off big time.)

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