Though companies offer several more nuanced options and add-ons, the three major types of auto insurance boil down to:
Liability coverage, required by law in most states, covers the other driver’s personal injury and property damage in a crash where you’re at fault. Importantly, it does not cover your own injuries or property damage. Buying only liability insurance is always going to be your cheapest option, though not necessarily the wisest. Sometimes it makes sense to carry only liability coverage , and sometimes it doesn’t. More on this in a minute.
You’ll probably see your liability coverage written like this on your quote or car insurance policy: $50,000/$100,000/$50,000 (or 50/100/50). That means you have $50,000 in bodily injury coverage for each person, $100,000 in bodily injury coverage total, and $50,000 in coverage for property damage. Each state requires its own minimum amount of liability insurance for you to stay legal.
Buying the bare minimum is tempting since it will keep your rates as low as possible.
Unfortunately, that’s a bad idea — a bad crash can mean your costs will easily surpass low state minimums, and then you’ll have to pay up. If you don’t have the money, that will leave your other assets vulnerable.
There is also collision coverage, which covers the damage to your car sustained in a crash. Most commonly, this covers crashes when you’re at fault, but it may also pay in certain circumstances when another driver is at fault, or in scenarios not covered under your other policies.
The cost of your collision coverage will largely depend on your car’s value, but you do control the deductible — the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance company picks up the rest of the tab.
True to its name, comprehensive car insurance covers almost any car-related calamity you can think of minus damage resulting from a crash. Instead, comprehensive policies pay for things like auto theft, damage from severe weather, or needed repairs after a late-night rendezvous with a disoriented deer.
Comprehensive coverage is meant to complement collision coverage, not replace it. Like collision coverage, the cost will depend on your car, but you control your deductible.