What Property Damage Does My Auto Policy Cover?

California automobile owners are not required to have coverage for damage to their own vehicle. If that coverage is purchased, however, there are two types available: collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.  While comprehensive coverage and collision coverage are similar in that they protect the insured’s vehicle, they are triggered in different circumstances.

Collision insurance covers damages to the insured’s vehicle resulting from a collision with another object such as another vehicle, tree, pole, etc. Collision coverage is typically limited to the cost of restoring the damaged vehicle to its condition prior to the accident. That cost should not exceed the total cash value of the car at the time of loss. 

Comprehensive coverage, on the other hand, pays the insured for damage to their car that is not the result of an auto collision. For example, for damage caused by theft, vandalism, fire, hail, or hitting an animal, all may be protected under comprehensive coverage.  

Auto policies can also include the following coverages:

Medical Payments: coverage for medical bills of an insured or their passengers after an accident, regardless of fault

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: coverage for the costs associated with damage or injury to an insured caused by an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver

No matter which coverages an insured has, it is important to remember that insurance policies contain numerous exclusions that limit the type of perils and damage covered.  Further, other provisions that impose duties on the insured that may defeat an otherwise payable claim.  These provisions are complicated and can often be misapplied by adjusters.