Car accidents are common on our highways, and the aftermath can leave you grappling with various concerns, including insurance coverage. While every driver must carry liability insurance in California, one aspect that often arises is how you will get your car fixed or replaced following an accident. This is where collision coverage kicks in. Understanding what collision coverage entails and whether it is mandatory in California is essential for all drivers.

Read on to gain clarity on key aspects of collision coverage so that you can be better equipped to make informed decisions regarding your auto insurance policy and how you can protect yourself from potential unplanned financial liabilities.

What is Collision Coverage?

Collision coverage is auto insurance that pays for repairs or replacement of your vehicle in the event of a collision, regardless of who is at fault. Collision coverage covers your car’s repair or replacement costs after a crash, not damages to other people and their property.

How Collision Coverage Differs From Liability Insurance Coverage

While liability insurance covers damages and injuries you may cause to others in an accident, collision coverage focuses on your own vehicle, providing compensation for damage caused by collisions, regardless of fault.

What Collision Coverage Covers

Collision coverage typically includes the following:

  • Collisions with other vehicles
  • Hit-and-runs
  • Collisions with objects such as poles, fences, or trees
  • Single vehicle accidents
  • Vehicle rollovers
  • Damage from potholes

What Collision Coverage Does Not Cover

Collision coverage does not cover the following:

  • Damages from non-collision incidents like theft, natural disasters, or vandalism
  • Medical expenses for injuries sustained in a collision
  • Damages to another person’s vehicle or property
  • Usual wear and tear

If your car sustains damage but is not declared a total loss, collision coverage will cover the costs of repairing it to its pre-damaged state minus the deductible.

Conversely, if your car is deemed a total loss, collision coverage will provide compensation equivalent to the actual cash value of your vehicle, with the deductible amount subtracted.

Collision Coverage Deductibles

A deductible is the portion of a claim a driver agrees to pay out of pocket before collision coverage can kick in towards a covered claim. When you purchase collision coverage, you will need to choose a deductible amount. Common deductible amounts range from $250 to $1,000. Choosing a higher deductible may lower your insurance premium but will require you to pay more in case of a claim. Collision coverage deductibles apply even when the accident was not your fault.

How Much Does Collision Coverage Cost?

The cost of collision coverage depends on various factors, including the current market value of your covered vehicle and the deductible amount you choose. Generally, collision coverage is more expensive than liability insurance. It is best to obtain quotes from multiple insurance providers to compare prices and find the most affordable coverage that meets your needs.

Do I Have to Have Collision Coverage in California?

In California, unlike liability insurance, collision coverage is not legally required. However, if you have leased or are still paying off your car loan, your lender or leasing company will require you to carry collision coverage until you fully own the vehicle. 

If you own the vehicle, the decision to have collision coverage is optional and depends on your circumstances. If you cannot afford to repair or replace your car in case of an accident, you may consider purchasing this type of insurance. Typically, it is impossible to buy standalone collision coverage; you must purchase comprehensive coverage alongside it.

Another factor to consider is the value of your vehicle. Collision coverage covers the current market value of your car (its value less depreciation). Therefore, if your vehicle is not worth much, having collision coverage is not worth the cost. This is because collision coverage becomes less valuable over time.

What if the Other Driver is at Fault?

If you are involved in a collision where the other driver is at fault, you can file a claim against their liability insurance policy to cover your damages. However, your collision coverage can step in if the at-fault driver’s coverage is insufficient or uninsured. It allows you to file a claim with your insurance provider, who will cover your vehicle’s repair or replacement costs, subject to your deductible.

Need Assistance Getting Payment for Repairs Following an Accident in California?

If you are having challenges obtaining compensatory damages from your insurance company, consulting with an auto accident attorney may be prudent. Contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Avaness Law in Burbank, California, today at (818) 724-7222 to schedule a free initial consultation. We can provide legal guidance and advocate on your behalf.