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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Car insurance is an unavoidable expense. Everyone who owns a vehicle is required to purchase insurance for that vehicle to cover any damages that they may cause while driving it. Although basic liability coverage is the only insurance required by law, many people carry full coverage insurance to protect their vehicles against damage. Before purchasing insurance, you may be wondering how much to budget and what you can expect full coverage to cost.
What is Full Coverage Insurance?
Full coverage insurance means that you carry both first-party and liability coverages. Liability insurance pays for damages that you cause to another person’s car or other property. First-party coverages pay for the damages to the vehicle that you’re insuring. Without full coverage auto insurance, your insurance company will not be able to pay for your damages, and you will need to pay for your repairs out of pocket.
The two primary coverages associated with first-party insurance are collision and comprehensive. Both pay for damages that your vehicle sustains, but each covers a different type of accident. Collision pays for damages whenever a vehicle hits something, like another car or a telephone pole. Comprehensive pays for damages that occur to a vehicle in other ways, like weather and vandalism.
In most cases, full coverage refers to a policy that has collision, comprehensive and liability insurance. Some insurance companies consider “full coverage” to mean just collision and liability, however, so you will need to make sure that you’re getting comprehensive coverage as well if you want it.
Other coverages, such as uninsured motorist, medical payments, rental reimbursement and roadside assistance are not automatically included under full coverage auto insurance. You will need to purchase those coverages separately and add them to your policy.
How Much Does Full Coverage Car Insurance Cost?
Full coverage auto insurance is more expensive than a liability-only policy. As a rule, the more coverages on a policy, the more it will cost. Each individual coverage will add to the overall amount of the premiums. Not all coverages cost the same to add, however, and you can pick and choose among your coverages to personalize a full coverage auto policy to suit your needs.
Generally, liability coverage is the most expensive part of a policy. Collision is more expensive than comprehensive. Indeed, a policy with just liability and comprehensive coverage is usually extremely affordable and is an appealing option for people who own old vehicles or don’t drive much. Other coverages, like rental, are usually quite cheap to add, while medical coverages usually cost somewhat more.
No matter what coverages you carry, the final cost of your insurance will be determined largely by other factors. An insurance company will determine a base rate for each coverage, then add or subtract costs based upon an individual driver’s risk.
A policy will cost more if a driver has a history of accidents, is young and inexperienced, has been convicted of a DUI, drives a sports car or lives in an area with a high crime rate. A policy will cost less if the driver has a defensive driving certification, has driven safely for many years, maintains good credit or installs anti-theft devices into a car.
There are multiple factors that affect car insurance, and all of them are calculated by a computer when a person gets an insurance quote or updates their policy. It’s difficult to predict in advance exactly how much a policy might cost without getting a full quote, and no two people will have identical premiums even if their policies are the same.
If you already have a liability-only policy, you should be able to estimate the cost of adding coverages to your vehicle. You can call your agent for the estimate, and some insurance companies will allow you to play with your policy online and change your coverages through the website. This will enable you to try multiple policy combinations before you decide on one that you like. If you don’t have insurance yet, you will need to submit for a quote for full coverage auto insurance to get an accurate estimate of the cost.
Modifying Your Coverage Can Save Money on Insurance
Once you’ve obtained a quote, you can modify your coverages to reduce the overall cost of your insurance policy. Anything that reduces the amount that an insurance company will need to pay in the event of an accident will cause your premiums to go down.
You can lower the cost of your policy by increasing your deductible, dropping coverages or reducing your liability limits. Any one of these actions shifts some of the financial responsibility toward you and reduces the amount that your insurance would owe for a claim, so you can save money on your insurance premiums.
Be careful when modifying your coverages that you do not drop below the legal limits for your state or set your deductible so high that you will be unable to pay it. If you’re not sure, you can check with your agent to see how to get the coverages you need at a price you can afford; there may be discounts you can qualify for or other ways that can lower your premiums without sacrificing coverage.