A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. Through her years working in th...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: May 3, 2022

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Just What's Essential

  • 49 states require drivers to purchase liability car insurance to legally drive.
  • Liability insurance only helps cover damages for an accident that you caused as the driver.
  • Full coverage car insurance policies usually include collision and comprehensive coverages.
  • On average, full coverage car insurance costs $39 more per month or $470 more annually than a liability-only car insurance policy.

Virtually every state has some form of liability car insurance law. However, liability policies only cover damages for an accident you are at fault for causing. You’ll need to invest in a full coverage policy to use insurance for other types of incidents.

What’s the full coverage vs. liability cost difference? Full coverage costs more, but that’s only because you’re receiving more protection. How much more is full coverage than liability? On average, the liability vs. full coverage cost difference is about $39 per month, or $470 annually.

Depending on your circumstances, a liability-only policy may or may not be worth the reduced cost of premiums. Though liability-only policies usually lead to affordable car insurance rates, it’s still not cheap enough in some cases to warrant the loss of coverages. Other times, maintaining full coverage could be a waste of money.

Whether you’re looking for full coverage or liability only insurance, find the cheapest rates right now by entering your five-digit ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool above.

How much more is full coverage than liability?

The price difference between liability and full coverage insurance policies heavily depends on what state you live in. Your car insurance rates are based on risk; if you’re more likely to get into an accident and file more claims, your average rates will be higher.

For these reasons, car insurance is usually more affordable in states with better road conditions, fewer accidents and vehicle thefts, and lower population densities.

What’s the full coverage vs. liability cost difference in your state? Find out in the table below.

Average Annual Cost Difference Between Full Coverage and Liability Coverage Car Rates Insurance by State
StatesAverage Annual Full Coverage RatesAverage Annual Liability Only RatesTotal Annual Rate Difference
South Dakota$766.91$300.22$466.69
North Dakota$773.30$298.18$475.12
North Carolina$789.09$359.42$429.67
New Hampshire$818.75$400.56$418.19
New Mexico$937.59$488.03$449.56
South Carolina$973.10$527.09$446.01
West Virginia$1,025.78$491.83$533.95
Rhode Island$1,303.50$759.80$543.70
District of Columbia$1,330.73$628.82$701.91
New York$1,360.66$804.51$556.15
New Jersey$1,382.79$869.57$513.22
U.S. Average$1,009.38$538.73$470.65
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Is liability car insurance only really cheaper than a full coverage policy? According to the data above, you will receive cheaper quotes if you only purchase your state’s minimum liability requirements.

However, the price difference between liability and full coverage insurance in many states is very reasonable. For example, Oregon, Idaho, Wisconsin, and Maine are all under $30 more per month. If you live in one of these states and drive fairly often, investing in a full coverage policy might be worth your while.

However, in Texas, Louisiana, and Washington D.C., the price gap does get wider. You’ll need to pay around $50 or more per month to receive full coverage car insurance in those regions.

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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What is the liability and full coverage difference?

You may be wondering why purchasing extra car insurance coverage is even necessary, especially when the state minimum standards can be so much cheaper than policies with additional protections added.

The truth is, those affordable liability-only policies often do not provide you with enough protection.

Similarly, if you’re financing or leasing a vehicle, you have less choice about what coverages your policy will contain. Your lienholder will determine what the insurance policy should require.

What’s the difference between full coverage and liability insurance? As mentioned above, liability car insurance poliicies will only pay for the other driver’s vehicle repairs, medical costs, and other damages when you, the policy-holder, are at fault for causing an accident.

Watch the following video from Allstate for a deeper look into exactly what liability insurance does and does not cover.

If you are liable for causing an accident, this type of coverage prevents you from having to pay for the other driver’s expenses entirely out of pocket. However, you will still be responsible for paying for all of your own damages.

While there is no single definition for what a full coverage policy actually is, it typically includes liability coverage as well as comprehensive and collision policies.

Comprehensive coverage helps pay for damages to your vehicle that do not include hitting another driver. For example, vandalism, weather damage, damage caused by animals, and vehicle theft are all covered by a comprehensive policy. Collision coverage helps pay for damages to your vehicle if you hit another car or object, such as a fence, tree, or telephone pole.

Both comprehensive and collision policies usually include deductibles, which is the highest amount you will pay out of pocket before your insurance company steps in to cover the rest of the damages.

Raising your deductible will help lower your monthly rates. However, if your deductible is too high, these types of coverages might not be worthwhile.

Full coverage insurance can include other additional policies as well, and every insurance company puts its own unique spin on these offers.

For example, you could choose a road-side assistance program, uninsured motorist protection, or even GAP insurance.

How does GAP car insurance work? If you drive a financed vehicle and owe more on your loan than the car is actually worth, this type of policy helps pay for what you still owe on your loan in the event the vehicle is totaled in an accident.

Now that you understand the difference between full coverage versus liability car insurance costs and coverages, when should you drop full coverage on your car and simply stick with the liability-only policy?

When should you drop full coverage insurance on your car?

If you drive an average amount and full coverage car insurance fits your budget,  you should maintain full coverage insurance to best protect yourself and your vehicle. Affordable full coverage car insurance is possible to find.

However, knowing when to drop full coverage car insurance will save you money. If the price difference between liability and full coverage auto insurance is too expensive for you, purchasing your state minimum requirements is perfectly acceptable.

Dropping full coverage car insurance also makes sense for people who drive much less than average.

Similarly, you should consider dropping fuller coverage policies if you drive an older vehicle that is worth less than $4,000 and you can easily afford to repair and replace it out of pocket, or if you are financially able to pay for unpredictable medical expenses in case of an accident.

If you finance a vehicle, or cannot easily replace a totaled vehicle, it is a good idea to buy a full coverage policy to prevent yourself from falling into a hard financial spot should a serious accident occur.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, even though 49 states legally require drivers to purchase liability car insurance, approximately 14 percent of drivers on the road are uninsured. If you are hit by one of these drivers, you will be responsible for paying for all damages out of pocket. If you cannot afford to do this, full coverage might be right for you.

How much more is full coverage than liability? The Bottom Line

The good news is that full coverage policies do not have to cost you an arm and a leg. By comparing quotes from different companies and applying for car insurance discounts, such as safe driver discounts, you can lower your annual rates substantially.

By putting in the research, you’ll end up paying only for the coverages you actually need, which means the investment will be worth your while, especially when you end up with great full coverage car insurance rates.

Now that you know the liability and full coverage difference, you’re ready to make an educated choice as to what coverage is right for your needs. Ready to buy full coverage car insurance (or liability car insurance)?

Compare the full coverage car insurance quotes by entering your five-digit ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool below to find the full coverage car insurance company for you.