What is Full Coverage Auto Insurance?

Have you heard the phrase "Full Coverage" insurance? It's a pretty common term used quite often in the car insurance industry. But have you ever stopped to think about what Full Coverage really means?

Clearly, full coverage means you're covered against everything and anything, right? It's the top-of-the-line, best possible insurance you can have… or is it?

Let's take a look at everything you need to know about Full Coverage Auto Insurance:

Full Coverage Insurance Defined

Okay, are you ready for this? I'm going to blow your mind here. Full Coverage, by definition, is…. not a real thing. No, really.

There is no one single type of Full Coverage Auto Insurance. If you went to 10 different insurance companies and asked for Full Coverage Auto Insurance, you'd get 10 different policies.

This doesn't mean you can't use the term Full Coverage or that professional insurance agents are giggling behind your back when you do. Rather, just be aware that Full Coverage Auto Insurance is really more of a general, umbrella term.

Let's Take a Deeper Look…

There are two main categories of car insurance:

Liability

This is the State Minimum, the absolute lowest amount of coverage you need in order to be legal on the roads. Liability coverage is for any damage you cause to others when you're behind the wheel. This doesn't cover any damage to yourself or your vehicle.

In almost every state, you'll need some amount of liability insurance. Experts recommend carrying $50,000/$100,000/$50,000, although some states will have different minimums.

Full Coverage

When people talk about Full Coverage what they often mean is simply "insurance policies including liability as well as additional policies." In many states, you only need liability coverage. So most Full Coverage policies are optional, at least legally.

Full Coverage can be broken down into two types of insurance policies:

Collision

This is any collision involving your vehicle. Your car could be hit by another car in an intersection. Your car could hit a patch of ice, slide off the road and hit a tree. Those are both examples of a collision covered under a Collision Policy.

Comprehensive

This is coverage for basically anything else which might happen to your car. Examples include hail damage, theft and animal damage. If your car is damaged in a "not-collision" this is the policy you'll turn to.

The Sister Policies of Comprehensive and Collision

These two policies can be purchased separately, but people often buy them bundled together. When you throw Liability Coverage into the mix, you get the top three car insurance products most commonly used. This is another popular definition of "Full Coverage."

Both Comprehension and Collision coverage only kick in after you pay your deductible. Deductibles and premiums are always carefully balanced. Higher deductibles mean you'll have to spend more before your policy coverage begins. Lower deductibles make filing a claim easier on the wallet, but your monthly premiums will be higher.

Does Full Coverage Include Everything?

As you can see, Full Coverage is used to mean a lot of different types and bundles of policies. But it's rarely used to refer to a package which includes the absolute best, top-of-the-line bundle of all insurance products.

Here's a list of popular, useful policies which cover more specific situations. Note that Collision and Comprehensive policies do not usually provide the following types of coverage:

Personal Injury Protection

PIP provides medical coverage for injuries sustained in a car accident. Aside from medical and surgical techniques, you can also get long-term care and even recovery for lost wages.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Even though liability insurance is the law pretty much everywhere, there are still a lot of uninsured drivers out there. Unfortunately, even if you're following the law to the letter, uninsured motorists can still cause you a lot of problems.

If you're in an accident with someone who isn't insured, you don't have a lot of options. You can take the person to court, and you might even win. But collecting the money is a different matter. Not many secret millionaires decide to just not buy some type of car insurance.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage is a way to protect yourself. This type of coverage usually also covers hit and run damage and some types of theft.

The reason Uninsured Motorist Coverage isn't normally bundled in with Full Coverage is that sometimes it's not really useful, but in other situations it's essential.

You'll want to determine a rough idea of the percentage of uninsured drivers in your general area. This can be especially important if you park on the street or in a public area.

Additional insurance extras you can bundle into a policy include:

Death Benefits

Custom Part Replacement

Rental Car Service

Roadside Assistance Services

How to Determine Coverage Rates

No matter if you're going to only carry liability or if you want every insurance product possible, your premium rates will depend on:

Your Driving Record

You're record is usually considered clean if you've gone over five years without a ticket.

Your Age

Younger students can often get a Good Student discount if they keep up their grades.

Your Job

Work from home or close to home? Insurance companies often give Mileage Discounts to those who don't drive too many miles a week.

The Best Way to Search for Car Insurance

Full Coverage usually just means Collision, Comprehensive and Liability. In some states, Personal Injury Protection might also be required. While this is a fine bundle of policies for many people, it's also not the only way you can insure your car.

Chimp Quote is an easy way to search through top insurers in seconds and find the specific policies you need to both stay safe on the road as well as comply with the laws in your state. At the end of the day, only you know what Full Coverage means for your insurance needs.