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Most people need car insurance in order to drive legally. Car insurance has two main categories: liability and full coverage.

The two types of car insurance will cover you in different circumstances. They also come at two very different prices. This article will cover the difference between the two types of car insurance coverage.

Liability Coverage 

Liability car insurance is simply insurance that covers your liability. In other words, liability coverage will pay for any damage to other property or people. You must pay out of pocket for your own damage though.

Liability coverage has two other subcategories as well.

Bodily Injury

Bodily injury coverage is exactly what it sounds like. This type of coverage covers medical expenses for the other party in the event you have an accident. Without bodily injury protection, you have to pay their medical expenses.

You can choose the amount of bodily injury coverage that you want to purchase. Keep in mind that most states require drivers to have bodily injury liability insurance to legally drive a vehicle.

Property Damage

Property damage coverage is also exactly what it sounds like. This covers physical damage to property, which usually means a vehicle. It may cover other property damage too, but this depends on the coverage.

Full Coverage

Full coverage car insurance is likely what most people think of when they search for auto insurance. Full coverage insurance will cover your vehicle in the event of an accident.

It may also cover your vehicle for than just an accident too, but this depends on the terms of the policy. Some policies cover acts of God, which means you will have coverage for natural disasters and other natural events. Some examples include the following:

  • Falling objects
  • Flooding
  • Theft
  • Other unforeseen circumstances

Legally Required Coverage

The coverage required by law varies depending on the state. Forty-seven states require liability insurance. The amount varies depending on the state. However, if you use a loan to purchase to a vehicle, then your loan provider will require you to purchase full coverage insurance. Lenders do this so they can receive money if you have an accident, or the car gets damaged.

Do I Need Full Coverage?

The decision to get full coverage or liability coverage is one that depends on a wide range of factors and your risk tolerance. This section will cover all the factors you should consider before deciding what insurance to choose. However, this section will not recommend a policy type for you to purchase. Simply consider the factors listed below when shopping for auto insurance.

Things to Consider

The following are a few considerations to make when deciding the level of insurance coverage you will need:

Your Ability to Purchase a Vehicle: one of the most important things to consider is your ability to purchase a new vehicle in the event of an accident. Remember, if you total a vehicle, then you will likely need a rental car for a few days while you search for a new car.

Also, you might have money at the moment, but if you’re in a money crunch and wreck your car, then you might have a problem purchasing a vehicle. Make sure to keep your ability to purchase a new vehicle in mind before dropping full coverage.

Vehicle Resale Value: another important factor is the resale of your vehicle. For instance, if you have a junk car, then paying for full coverage might not be worth it. Your insurance company will most likely total the car in the event of even the most minor accident because the cost of repairs exceeds the total loss in value of the vehicle. The car’s value might not even exceed the deductible, which means you might have to pay out of pocket!

On the other hand, if you have a very expensive vehicle, then full coverage will mean your wallet will not hurt as much in the event you wreck your vehicle. Your insurance company may even pay to fix the vehicle rather than writing it off. This just depends on the cost of the repairs and the total value of your car.

Policy Cost: the price difference between a liability insurance policy and a full coverage insurance policy will vary depending on a lot of factors such as your driving record, type of vehicle, zip code, and even the color of your car. It will also depend on your credit score!

Despite all those factors, sometimes only a marginal difference in price between the two policies exists. If the price difference is small enough, then it might make more sense to purchase the comprehensive coverage.

Risk Tolerance: one of the more critical factors in deciding the type of coverage you want is your risk tolerance. Insurance, by definition, is merely paying to transfer your risk to another party. You will have to analyze all the factors and determine the amount of risk you want to have.

Loan: if you have a loan on your vehicle, then you will have to purchase full coverage insurance for the amount of your loan. You might have the ability to lower the total coverage to your loan amount though. You will have to contact your lender to check.

Final Thoughts

The difference between liability insurance and full coverage insurance is a very large one in a legal sense and a benefit sense. It can also make a financial difference. You want to know exactly what type of coverage you purchase before signing a contract.

Make sure to fully review the policy and understand exactly what it covers and does not cover. This understanding is especially important for a full coverage plan since they tend to be very large.

More importantly, understand exactly what type of insurance fits your needs. Sometimes purchasing a liability plan make more sense for you and sometimes purchasing full coverage makes more sense for you. The above checklist should help you find the right type of insurance for your needs.

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