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Liability vs Full Coverage Car Insurance: What They Cover

By Kelly Boyer Sagert · October 28, 2022 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Liability vs Full Coverage Car Insurance: What They Cover

Full coverage car insurance protects you against the most common causes of car damage and bodily injury: not just accidents but also theft, vandalism, fire, and more. Depending on the state you live in, it may also include Uninsured Motorist coverage, and Personal Injury Protection for yourself and your passengers. Liability, on the other hand, only offers financial protection against other drivers’ claims of injury and damage if you’re found at fault.

It can be hard to know how much insurance you need, and how to keep costs down. We’ll review the different types of policies available, pros and cons of each, and the average cost of full coverage vs. liability.

What Is Full Coverage Car Insurance?

Full coverage car insurance refers to a policy with the broadest protections available. Although specifics vary by policy, full coverage usually includes the following:

•   Liability: If you’re involved in an accident and found to be at fault, this type of insurance provides financial protection against other drivers’ claims of bodily injury and property damage.

•   Collision: Helps pay for damages to your own vehicle after an accident with another vehicle or an object like a guardrail.

•   Comprehensive: Protects you against theft or damage unrelated to an accident, such as fire or vandalism.

In some states, full coverage may also include the following:

•   Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM): Covers your losses if the other driver either doesn’t have insurance or not enough.

•   Personal injury protection (PIP): Covers medical expenses for yourself and passengers in your car if injuries occur. It may cover other costs, as well: lost wages, the cost of services that you can’t perform while injured, such as housekeeping, as well as funeral costs.

•   Medical payments (MedPay): This can cover medical expenses but doesn’t offer the fullness of coverage that’s available through PIP.

Check your state laws for specifics. This guide to car insurance terms can also be helpful.

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Average Cost of Full Coverage Car Insurance

The average full coverage car insurance cost in 2022 is $1,771 annually. Of course, many factors go into full coverage car insurance quotes, so your price will undoubtedly vary. The cost for a male teenage driver, for example, is $807 more each year on average.

A poor driving record will almost double your premiums. For more details, check out this look at how much insurance goes up after an accident.

Your deductible will also make a big difference in your premiums. In general, the lower the deductible, the higher the premium, and vice versa. So if you’re wondering how to lower your car insurance cost, consider choosing a higher deductible.

The cheapest full coverage car insurance is about $1,000 per year for an individual policy.

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Why Consider Getting Full Coverage Insurance?

You’ll have the broadest protections with a full coverage policy. Also, if you have a car loan, your lender may require you to have full coverage to protect their investment. The best way to determine how much coverage you need is to sit down for a personal insurance planning session.

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Pros and Cons of Full Coverage Car Insurance

There are advantages and disadvantages to paying for full coverage car insurance.

Pros of full coverage

•   Provides a broader range of protection:

◦   May cover medical expenses if you’re hurt in a collision

◦   May cover vandalism and theft

◦   Can protect you after an accident if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough coverage

•   Typically meets all state insurance requirements.

•   Usually satisfies the requirements of your lender or lessor.

Cons of full coverage

•   Cost is higher than baseline liability insurance.

•   Doesn’t provide coverage for commercial driving purposes.

•   Won’t cover the cost of normal wear and tear.

What Full Coverage Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Although full coverage provides a significant amount of protection, it doesn’t cover every situation imaginable. It may or may not, for example, provide UM/UIM, PIP, or MedPay coverage. As noted above, full coverage also doesn’t account for standard wear and tear or maintenance needs on the vehicle — that’s up to you. Learn more about saving on car maintenance costs.

Because full coverage varies from company to company, it’s important to read your agreement carefully and understand what it does and doesn’t include.

What Is Liability Car Insurance?

There are two components to what liability auto insurance covers: bodily injury and property damage. If someone is at fault in an accident, their bodily injury coverage will pay for the medical expenses of injured parties. It may also cover lost income, legal fees, and/or funeral costs.

Property damage coverage helps pay for damage to the other person’s vehicle and to any other property that sustained damage during the accident, such as a fence, home, or bicycle.

Personal liability coverage is something different. It typically covers medical costs for someone injured on your property or because of your negligence. It may cover property damage costs, legal fees, and so forth.

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Average Cost of Liability Insurance

On average, a liability insurance policy costs $716 in 2022. But again, many factors — including your age, gender, driving record, and type of deductible — can influence the price.

Why Consider Getting Liability Coverage Insurance?

Most states require liability car insurance, although the specifics vary from state to state. do not require it. In New Hampshire and Virginia, you can skip liability insurance if you can prove you can pay for costs out-of-pocket after an accident where you’re at fault.

Pros and Cons of Liability Coverage Car Insurance

While it may be tempting to pay for only liability coverage, you need to keep certain drawbacks in mind.

Pros of liability insurance

•   Costs less than full coverage car insurance.

•   Provides basic coverage in case of an accident.

•   Required by most states.

Cons of liability insurance

•   If an accident occurs, you could still be on the hook for many costs (more on this below).

•   Won’t cover theft or vandalism of your vehicle.

•   If you have a loan or lease, the lender/lessor may require full coverage.

What Liability Insurance Doesn’t Cover

If an accident occurs, liability insurance won’t cover damage to your vehicle. For that, you need collision coverage. Liability may or may not cover your personal injuries. And if you’re not at fault in the accident, it doesn’t cover the other driver’s medical bills or property damage costs.

Differences Between Liability and Full Coverage Insurance

When weighing liability vs. full coverage car insurance, here are a few things to consider:

•   Full coverage car insurance costs more, but it also offers significantly more protection.

•   Liability auto insurance is required in most states, but full coverage is not.

•   If you have a car loan or lease, the lender/lessor will likely require full coverage.

•   With liability insurance, there’s no deductible. With full coverage, deductibles range from $500 to $1,500.

When To Add Optional Coverage

Optional coverage to consider include:

•   Rental car reimbursement: If your car is in the shop or otherwise out of service for more than a day, this pays for a rental vehicle.

•   Gap insurance: This is intended for cars that have a loan or lease. If the vehicle is totalled and you owe more than the value of the car, gap insurance pays the difference.

•   New car replacement: As the name suggests, if a car is totaled, you get a new car that’s similar to your previous one.

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What Are the State Minimum Requirements for Full Coverage?

How to read this table: Alabama’s requirements for car insurance are 25/50/25. This means that the state requires $25,000 of bodily injury liability insurance per person, with $50,000 for all bodily injuries that take place within a single accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident. Just keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of car insurance you need.

State

Car Insurance Requirements

Additional Requirements

Alabama 25/50/25
Alaska 50/100/25
Arizona 25/50/15
Arkansas 25/50/25
California 15/30/5
Colorado 25/50/15
Connecticut 25/50/25 The state also requires uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
Delaware 25/50/10 The state also requires personal injury protection (PIP)
Florida Property damage liability of $10,000 per accident and $10,000 PIP coverage
Georgia 25/50/25
Hawaii 20/40/10 and $10,000 PIP
Idaho 25/50/15
Illinois 25/50/20 Under state law, policies automatically include what’s required for uninsured motorist coverages
Indiana 25/50/25 This state also requires $50,000 in underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injuries
Iowa 20/40/15
Kansas 25/50/25 Along with uninsured/underinsured coverage ($25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident) and personal injury protection (PIP or no-fault)
Kentucky 25/50/25
Louisiana 15/30/25
Maine 50/100/25 Along with $50,000 uninsured coverage per person and $100,000 per accident, and $2,000 in medical payment coverage
Maryland 30/60/15
Massachusetts 20/40/5 and $8,000 PIP
Michigan 20/40/10
Minnesota 30/60/10 Along with $25,000 uninsured/underinsured coverage per person, $50,000 per accident, and $40,000 PIP
Mississippi 25/50/15
Missouri 25/50/25 Plus $25,000 uninsured coverage per person and $50,000 per accident
Montana 25/50/20
Nebraska 25/50/25 Plus $25,000 uninsured/underinsured coverage per person and $50,000 per accident
Nevada 25/50/20
New Jersey 15/30/5 Along with $15,000 PIP
New Mexico 25/50/10
New York 25/50/50 and $50,000 PIP
North Carolina 30/60/25 The state also has detailed specifics about required insurance coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists
North Dakota 25/50/25
Ohio 25/50/25
Oklahoma 25/50/25
Oregon 25/50/20 Plus $25,000 uninsured coverage per person and $50,000 per accident, and $15,000 PIP
Pennsylvania 15/30/5 Plus $5,000 for medical payments
Rhode Island 25/50/25
South Carolina 25/50/25 Plus $25,000 uninsured coverage per person, $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damage
South Dakota 25/50/25 Plus $25,000 uninsured coverage per person and $50,000 per accident
Tennessee 25/50/15
Texas 30/60/25
Utah 25/65/15
Vermont 25/50/10
Washington 25/50/10
Washington D.C. 25/50/10 $25,000 uninsured coverage per person, $50,000 per accident, and $5,000 property damage
West Virginia 25/50/25 Plus $25,000 uninsured coverage per person and $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 property damage
Wisconsin 25/50/10 Plus $25,000 uninsured coverage per person and $50,000 per accident

The Takeaway

Full coverage car insurance includes several different types of protection, which makes it popular with drivers who can afford it. Full coverage gives you liability protection (used when you’re at fault in an accident), collision (which pays for damage to your vehicle), and comprehensive (which protects against theft and non-accident-related damage). In some states, you’ll also get Uninsured Motorist coverage, Personal Injury Protection, and/or Medical Payment coverage. Liability coverage, on the other hand, only covers property damage and bodily injury in case you’re at fault in an accident. Auto insurance coverage requirements vary by state.

If you’re looking for affordable full coverage car insurance, we invite you to compare auto insurance quotes from top insurers. SoFi makes finding the right deal on car insurance easy.

Get a car insurance quote in just minutes.

FAQ

Is it worth having full coverage on a car?

If you have a loan or lease, you may be required to have full coverage. And you may want to get full coverage on a newer car to protect your investment even if you don’t have to. This can also be true of an older car that’s maintained its value.

What does full coverage come with?

It comes with liability insurance, collision coverage, and comprehensive insurance. It may come with additional coverages such as uninsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection, and/or medical payment coverage.

What are the benefits of full coverage?

This kind of policy provides you with a broad range of protections against not just accidents but fire, theft, vandalism, and other common threats. If you have a car loan or lease, full coverage may be required.


Photo credit: iStock/shapecharge

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