What is the Difference Between Comprehensive and Collision In Florida?

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Introduction

In this article, we will what is the difference between comprehensive and collision vehicle insurance in Florida. Both offer insurance in the event of damage to your vehicle, but the type of damage they cover is different. Knowing which to buy, and when to bundle the two, could end up saving you lots of money in repairs, whether the damages were caused in a vehicle accident or not.

Florida doesn’t require you to have any comprehensive or collision insurance. But as a Gainesville car accident lawyer, I can tell you that doesn’t mean you don’t need these types of coverage. Florida has low car insurance requirements in general. We recommend you buy more insurance than required by Florida law. Otherwise, you will take a big loss if you’re ever in a car accident.

What is car collision insurance?

Collision car insurance covers damage to your vehicle.

What it covers

It doesn’t matter if you were at fault and caused the damage. The coverage will pay to fix or replace your vehicle in a variety of situations. Those situations include damage to your vehicle caused by a traffic collision with another vehicle. They also include traffic collisions with objects like trees and guardrails. Collision insurance even covers single-car accidents that result in damage to your vehicle. Collision coverage is a type of insurance you can buy to protect the value of your vehicle. It will not cover the cost of damage that you cause to other vehicles, people or things.

Collision insurance policies usually include a deductible. Your charge for the coverage will usually be less if you elect a higher deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you will have to pay out of pocket for damage to your vehicle before the insurance steps in and pays for the rest up to your limit. A typical deductible might be $500.

Collision coverage usually has a total limit. This is the maximum dollar amount the insurer will pay you for the damage to your vehicle. Often this limit is the “actual cash value” of your vehicle. It’s important to realize that the actual cash value is not what you paid for the vehicle. Rather, actual cash value is the value of your car at any given time. That will include a subtraction of value for depreciation. Depreciation is a reduction in value due to wear and tear. 

You are probably wondering who determines the actual cash value if you make a collision coverage claim. Well, that would be your insurance company. Things like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds might give you an idea of an appropriate value for your car, but your insurer will have their own systems for making the determination. They will apply depreciation to your car and everything in it, including the parts. That means that if you make a collision claim that includes damage to internal parts, your insurer will not want to reimburse you for the cost of brand new replacement parts. Instead, they will do a depreciation calculation on how old the parts in your car are and then pay you that reduced amount. This could mean that you only have enough money paid to you to afford used parts. Some insurance companies will let you add an endorsement to your policy that specifies the use of new or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts. You have to read the fine print of your policy to see what your collision car insurance coverage really covers.

One problem that comes up with collision policy claims is when the car is badly wrecked. In that situation the insurance company might decide that the cost to repair the vehicle is greater than the actual cash value of the vehicle. They will then just pay you the actual cash value, not the greater price needed to fix your car. If your car is old and has low value, you will be left with a small payment and no vehicle to drive. 

Another problem we see is when people have new cars that are totaled. If they have not paid much of their car loan yet, they could end up owing more for the car than the amount of money the insurance company pays them as the actual cash value. The reason for this is that new cars depreciate drastically as soon as you drive them off the new car lot. If your new car is totaled, your insurance company will probably not pay you enough to buy another new car. There’s another type of insurance you can buy to make up the difference. It’s called “gap insurance.”

Examples where collision coverage applies:

  • If you are driving and crash into another car.

  • If you are driving and collide with a tree on the side of the road.

  • If your car is parked and another car collides with it.

Why it’s important to have

Most people rely on their cars to get around. It’s a great inconvenience to not have access to a car in many parts of the country. If your car is damaged in a car accident, you will want it to be back in operation as soon as possible. You won’t have to be wondering how you can find the money to make expensive repairs. That’s where collision insurance comes in. Vehicle repairs can be very costly. Depending on the severity of the wreck, repairs will probably cost thousands of dollars. If you have collision coverage, you will know that you will only have to pay the deductible in order to get your car fixed or to get money to buy a new car.

What if someone else causes the accident?

If someone else caused the accident you can still make a claim with your insurance company under your collision policy. If you do, your insurance company will then make a claim on the at-fault driver to recover that driver’s property damage insurance money. Alternatively, you could make a claim directly on the at-fault driver’s property damage coverage. 

There are various pros and cons to the choice of which company to make the claim on. We often advise our clients to make the claim on their own collision policy, but that isn’t always possible.

Which company to make the property damage claim to, Pros and Cons

One benefit to making the claim on the at-fault driver’s property damage policy is that you don’t have to make a claim on your own policy. People worry that making a claim on their own policy could make their rates go up. This may or may not happen. If the other driver is at fault and you make a claim on your collision policy, your insurer will pay you and then make a claim against the at-fault driver. Since they can recover the money and you were not at fault, your claim may not cause any increases in your premiums.

Making the claim on your own collision policy will save you a lot of effort. Your claim against the at-fault driver requires you to prove fault, unlike in your collision policy. This means that the claim against the at-fault driver is more difficult. Making the claim on your own policy usually gets you back driving again sooner.

One main drawback to making the claim against the at-fault driver is that it forces you to talk with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You could compromise your bodily injury liability claim in the process. We often advise clients never to speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

If you don’t have collision coverage you will be forced to make your claim on the at-fault driver’s property damage coverage.

Florida requires drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage coverage. So there should be money in the at-fault driver’s coverage to pay at least some of your property damage loss. But $10,000 is often not enough to pay for repairs to new vehicles that are badly damaged. If you don’t have collision coverage to pay the rest, you will take a loss on your vehicle.

What if you’re hit by an uninsured motorist?

In Florida, there is a high chance that the person who hit you is uninsured. Studies estimate that 25% of drivers in Florida have no insurance coverage. If someone damages your vehicle and they’re uninsured, you will probably have to pay to repair the damage. You can also sue the person to recover your damages, but most people who drive uninsured don’t have any assets and are thus “judgment-proof.” That means it’s not worth the time and money to sue them, because even if you get a judgment, you won’t be able to collect the money from them.

Another 25% of drivers on the road in Florida only carry the required minimum insurance. That includes $10,000 of property damage liability coverage. As explained above, their $10,000 policy may not be enough to compensate you for the damage to your vehicle.

As a car accident lawyer, I can tell you it’s critical that you purchase collision insurance coverage. It will protect the value of your car and keep you on the road without too much delay after an accident.

What if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident?

Collision coverage is very useful if your car has been hit by a hit-and-run driver. Collision insurance covers repairs to your vehicle when you hit another car and when another car hits you. It doesn’t matter who was at fault. If the vehicle hits your car and drives away your collision coverage will pay for the repairs. Since you won’t have the information on the other driver to make a claim against them, your collision coverage will be your only source of insurance in this situation for property damage coverage. This can be especially useful if you park in car garages or on busy streets. Your car might get scratched or dented by other drivers that drive away and don’t tell you what they did. You can make a collision claim to get your car fixed. Scratch and dent repair can be very expensive.

What is comprehensive car insurance?

Comprehensive insurance is another kind of insurance that covers damage to your vehicle only. It covers damage to your vehicle caused by something other than a traffic collision. 

Comprehensive insurance would cover damage to your vehicle from things like these:

  • Theft

  • Fire

  • Hurricane

  • Vandalism

  • Damage from animals

It’s important to have comprehensive coverage so you won’t have to pay out of pocket for damage to your car. The kind of damage covered by comprehensive policies may not happen often, but when it does you could be facing a big financial loss, especially if you have an expensive vehicle.

When should I have both comprehensive and collision insurance in Florida?

Collision and comprehensive coverage are not required in Florida. But if you don’t have them you could be facing a large bill out-of-pocket if your car is damaged. There are many uninsured drivers in Florida. If one of them damages your vehicle, you will have to pay for the damage. One of the key differences between comprehensive and collision in Florida is that If you have collision coverage, it will step in and pay for your repairs. That way you won’t have to pay out-of-pocket.

Factors to consider

You may be required to have collision and comprehensive insurance coverage in Florida, so it's important you understand the difference. If you’re making payments on your car through a loan or financing agreement, you’ll probably be required to have collision and comprehensive coverage on the car in order to get the loan.

Your collision and comprehensive insurance policy will usually cover short term car rentals. Check your policy details to make sure. For a long-term lease, you will need to make sure that your collision and comprehensive coverage includes the leased car. Most leasing agreements require full coverage including collision and comprehensive.

When you might drop them

You may have heard of the 10% rule. It is a useful rule of thumb for deciding whether to get collision and comprehensive insurance. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to pay premiums for collision and comprehensive coverage. This is true when your car has a low value or is old. The reason is that if your car is old it will have a low “actual cash value.” If you are in a total wreck and your old car is only worth $2,500, the insurance company will only pay you that $2,500. That won’t get your car back driving again if it was totaled. A good rule of thumb is the 10% rule. Find out the actual cash value of your car on Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds. Then take 10% of that. If you’re paying more than that amount for your collision and comprehensive insurance premiums in Florida, you might want to drop the coverage.

What are the Comprehensive and Collision Insurance Requirements in FL?

Neither of these types of coverage are required by law in Florida. Instead, Florida drivers are required to have a $10,000 minimum of property damage liability (PDL) coverage. That covers the damage you do to other people’s cars. It does not cover your own car. 

If you want the peace of mind of knowing that damage to your vehicle will be paid for in all circumstances, then you should 1) understand the difference between comprehensive and collision insurance in Florida and 2) purchase collision and comprehensive coverage for your vehicle.

If you have collision and comprehensive coverage you’ll know that whatever happens to you car, you will only have to pay the deductible to get it fixed or paid for. This is important because the cost of repairing a car after an accident is high. One recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found the average repair cost to be over $4,000. Claims for theft are also skyrocketing. New cars have sophisticated parts and cost a small fortune to replace.

"Eric Kem was a Fantastic Lawyer...knowledgeable, patient as well as kind. He helped me understand the law, know my rights and not feel like an idiot for asking so many questions. I had a better outcome then I ever expected. I would highly recommend him!!!"

Crystal DeJesus, Gainesville Florida

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