Comprehensive and collision coverage seem like a smart choice, but they come with a much heftier price tag than liability-only insurance. If you took out a loan to pay for your car, you probably don’t have a choice — your lender will require proof of comprehensive and collision coverage. And dropping comprehensive or collision coverage isn’t a good idea for anyone without the savings to pay for repairs out of pocket.
But there are situations when opting only for liability makes sense . For instance, if you drive an older, paid-off vehicle that you can easily fix or replace, keeping only liability coverage can mean significant savings. Comprehensive and collision coverage may also be overkill on any car you drive sparingly.
To see how much I would save on auto insurance by nixing all coverage but liability, I plugged my own stats into a quote generator. I’m a married female in my early 30s driving a paid-off 2011 Hyundai Sonata. I live in a small Southern city, have a clean driving record, and average 12,000 miles a year. A policy with 50/100/50 in liability, as well as comprehensive and collision policies with $250 deductibles, would set me back $45 a month. Dropping the comprehensive and collision policies would bring my bill down to just $24 a month.
Would I do it? No, since my car is still relatively new and would cost a significant sum to repair or replace. But let’s say I have a beat-up 2004 Nissan Altima with 150,000 miles on it. Replacing it would probably only cost about $2,000, a sum I could cover with my emergency fund if my car was totaled. Suddenly, cutting my car insurance bill nearly in half by dropping comprehensive and collision coverage makes a lot more sense.
Bottom line: Liability coverage is your cheapest option and will keep you legal on the road, but dropping collision and comprehensive coverage might be a risky move if it would be a major financial hardship to fix or replace your car after an accident.
Other types of coverage
There are a number of other coverage types and add-ons, some of which may be required in certain states. Of particular note is personal injury protection, which pays your medical expenses after a crash.
There’s also uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, which means you won’t be left on the hook after a crash where the other driver is at fault but doesn’t carry enough (or any) insurance and can’t afford to pay. Other add-ons pay for rental cars while your car is being fixed and for roadside assistance.
If you’re trying to keep your bill low, personal injury coverage probably isn’t a smart buy as long as you have a good health insurance plan — there would be too much overlap between the two policies.
However, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is a decent bet, especially in areas with a high percentage of uninsured drivers. It’s also fairly inexpensive: Adding both options to my GEICO quote boosted my monthly bill by only a few dollars.
As for other little add-ons, consider skipping them. If you can cover the cost of a rental (or borrow a car from a friend while you’re in a jam), rental-car riders are unnecessary, and a AAA membership is often a better deal than roadside assistance coverage if you have an older vehicle.