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When discussing auto insurance, it is tough to not hear the words "full coverage" or "liability only". You have probably said it, and your agent has probably said those words to you. Agents tend to use the same language that the general population is used to hearing. But do you really know these words mean?

Here we explain in simple terms the difference between these two terms so you can be more informed when you purchase auto insurance. We are here to help and keep it simple and straightforward for you.

Car driving down a road.Liability Only Auto Insurance

Liability insurance exists to cover the cost of damage you may cause to OTHERS when driving. Although technically, liability coverage covers others, it ultimately protects you from being financially on the hook should you ever cause an accident. 

There are essentially two types of liability insurance: bodily injury liability, which covers the associated costs if you hurt someone with your car; and property damage liability, which covers the associated costs if you damage someone else’s car or other property with your vehicle.

In New York, having liability insurance is the law and you are required to carry a minimum amount of liability. In New York, the minimum liability coverage requirements are $25,000 per person injured with a maximum of $50,000 for people injured in an accident and $10,000 property damage coverage. You will sometimes encounter the coverage level written in the format 25/50/10.

There are other coverages included in the New York state minimum such as No-Fault (Personal Injury Protection or PIP) and Uninsured Motorist coverage. 

Full Coverage Auto Insurance

There’s no actual type of insurance called “full coverage” — the phrase simply refers to a combination of coverage that includes collision coverage and comprehensive coverage in addition to liability insurance. Both collision and comprehensive help cover damage to YOUR vehicle.

  • Collision coverage is for damage to your vehicle for situations when you are driving. This means things like collision with another car, driving off the road, or hitting an object. 
  •  Comprehensive coverage is for damage to the vehicle outside of driving situations. For example, weather damage, fire, or theft.

The difference between comprehensive and collision is the difference between the damage caused a tree falling on your car (comprehensive), and the damage caused if you drove into a tree (collision). 

Liability vs. Full Coverage

The difference between liability only and full coverage is straightforward. Liability insures against the damage you could cause other people or their property while on the road. Full coverage includes liability and also damage to your vehicle. 

Full coverage  protects you against a wider set of risks, and it is more expensive than liability only. While comprehensive or collision may be optional in New York, you might be obliged to take out a policy with these coverage if you are leasing a vehicle or paying off a loan used to buy the car.  Liability insurance is not optional and you are required to purchase at least the state minimum.

Do you need help understanding your New York auto insurance coverage? Let's face it, the auto insurance policy is complex and can be confusing to many people. There are many different parts to the policy, including conditions and exclusions. You need an agent who will take the time to explain the policy to you and fully answer any of your questions. Call us today at (845) 724-3031 or fill out an auto insurance quote form today!


Other blog posts for more information

No-Fault Car Insurance In New York
Understanding Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
Should You Buy Extra Rental Car Insurance?

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