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Interaction of Collision and Comprehensive Coverage in Auto Insurance Policies

Interaction of Collision and Comprehensive Coverage in Auto Insurance Policies

Collision coverage and comprehensive coverage in policies of motor vehicle insurance are interrelated with one another, as both types of coverage are intended to protect an owner or operator against loss resulting from damage to a covered vehicle itself rather than insuring against legal liability for personal injury or property damage suffered by others that results from operation of the covered vehicle. Collision coverage can generally be said to involve incidents in which an insured car or truck makes unintended physical contact with an object such as another vehicle, while comprehensive coverage deals with vehicle damage resulting from a wide range of causes such as vandalism, theft, fire, flood, hail, or windstorm.

Comprehensive coverage policy provisions often contain specific exclusions from coverage for vehicle damage resulting from collisions, because collision coverage is available for purchase by an insured who wishes to provide protection against such damage. Where an auto insurance policy contains one of the two types of coverage but not the other, questions may arise as to whether an incident in which a covered vehicle suffers damage should be considered a collision for purposes of determining the existence of coverage for the loss. A related issue is whether the definitional terms in the policy provision describing the coverage not chosen by the insured should be brought into play in defining the extent of the coverage that the insured has acquired.

The business of insurance in the United States, including that of motor vehicle insurance, has traditionally been governed by the individual laws of each state rather than by a single unified body of federal law. As a result, the answers to questions about the interaction of collision and comprehensive coverage under auto insurance policies will vary from state to state, and will be found in the state statutes regulating the business of insurance and in the decisions of courts dealing with issues of insurance law.