Breaking Down Your Auto Insurance Policy Part 2: Physical Damage Coverage (AKA Collision & Comprehensive)

Man calling insurance after a car accident
Breaking Down Your Auto Insurance Policy Part 2: Physical Damage Coverage (AKA Collision & Comprehensive)

With all of the moving parts in your auto insurance policy, We thought it would be a great idea to break down each section into easy-to-digest articles so you could have a complete understanding of your auto policy. One of the greatest factors of success in managing your risk with proper coverage and not overpaying for insurance is to educate yourself on each aspect of the policy. With a better understanding of how each coverage works, and with the help of an experienced insurance professional, your insurance portfolio will optimally work in the background for you protecting everything you have worked so hard for.  

This article will cover the physical damages coverage of your auto policy. You will commonly see this termed under two different coverage categories. Comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage. We will aim to break down the differences between the two.  

The physical damage portion of your auto policy is designed to provide coverage for your vehicle should it be involved in an incident should you be found at fault, or if there is no assigned at-fault party. For example, if you are rear-ended and your vehicle is damaged, more than likely the other party’s property damage liability will pay for the damages if they are deemed at fault.  

What is Collision Coverage?

Collision coverage helps with paying damage (minus your deductible) to your vehicle in the event of a rollover, a collision with another vehicle, or hitting a fixed object such as a tree, fence, or guardrail. 

To help illustrate here are a couple of recent collision claims we have seen.  

  • A driver swerved to miss hitting an animal, and drove their vehicle into a guard rail.
  • A driver was changing lanes on the highway and ended up hitting another vehicle in the lane they were merging into, causing extensive body damage to the side of their vehicle. 
  • A vehicle operator didn’t see a pothole in the road and hit it, causing damage to the wheel, control arm, and strut system.  

Do I Need Collision Coverage? 

Yes and no. If you have financed your vehicle and have an active lien, most banks will require you to have collision coverage on your automobile. However, if you purchased your vehicle outright or have paid off your vehicle (congratulations!), you are not required to have collision coverage. While this could be a decent option to save some money on your auto insurance, I would always advise keeping the coverage there if your automobile is still fairly new. This is where having a conversation with an experienced agent would be useful by providing valuable insights specific to your needs.   

What is Comprehensive Coverage?

Comprehensive insurance covers damage brought on by circumstances deemed to be beyond your control, such as theft, vandalism, Hitting a deer or any live animal, broken windshields/ glass, fire, and weather-related disasters such as tornadoes, hail, or flooding. Carriers are also known to name this coverage “Other than Collision” or OTC for short.  

A few recent comprehensive claims we have seen include: 

  • A vehicle following a dump truck on the road and a rock kicked out of the bed cracking the insured windshield.
  • Hurricane Ian’s storm surge flooded an insured person’s vehicle.
  • An insured person had their vehicle stolen while out at dinner.

Do I Need Comprehensive Coverage? 

The bank will require you to maintain this policy, just like collision coverage if you financed your car or have a lien that is still in existence. However, if you own your car outright, you are free to forego this insurance. Even if you wanted to eventually forgo the collision coverage, you should still give keeping comprehensive coverage active some thought because it tends to be far less expensive than collision coverage. These are uncontrollable events, as stated in the description, so why not have some additional, inexpensive precautions for those unforeseen windshield cracks? 


If you want to learn more about collision and comprehensive insurance for your vehicles and your best options, get in touch with The Staples Agency. Our staff is full of experts in the field and would be delighted to offer you personalized advice and insightful information.

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