Liability Only vs Full Coverage Insurance: What's the Difference?

"Liability only" and "full coverage insurance:" these are likely terms you've heard tossed around before, but what do they mean and which level of coverage could be right for you? Follow along as we bust some of the most common liability only myths, answer your questions, and give you the insight you need into these two, often confusing terms, so you can make the best decision for you, your family, and your car!

The Lowdown on Liability Only Insurance

Liability only insurance generally refers to the most basic level of coverage that you can purchase for your vehicle. It's one of the most common types of coverage that is legally required (in the majority of states*) and will help protect you should you injure another person or cause damage to their property while operating your vehicle.

When you hear someone say "liability only," they're actually referring to two types of coverages that go hand in hand, not one: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Together, these coverages help pay for the other person's medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle repair, vehicle replacement, and more.

While liability only coverage will help you meet the legal requirements in most states, it may not offer you an adequate amount of coverage in the event of an accident. Why? Liability car insurance alone does not provide coverage for your car or your injuries. Without coverage beyond liability only, you could be faced with big repair bills for the vehicle you depend on each and every day.

The Myth of "Full Coverage"

You won't see "full coverage" listed when it's time to get a quote. Despite what many people may think, there's actually no such thing! When people refer to "full coverage," they're typically describing  a policy that includes the state-required bodily injury and property damage liability insurance, together with  comprehensive and collision coverage.

Collision and comprehensive are both related to damages that occur to your vehicle. Collision coverage comes in handy when your vehicle hits another object or is hit by a hit-and-run driver. Comprehensive coverage comes into play if your car is stolen or damaged in an event other than a collision (think fire, flood, rockslide, etc.).

But note the fiction in using the phrase "full coverage." Consider that a policy that is described as “full coverage” would not cover:

  • Your liability exposure if it is higher than the liability limits you chose
  • Claims related to an uninsured or underinsured motorist
  • Your medical expenses
  • The amount of any deductibles you choose - including for comprehensive & collision coverages
  • Events that are excluded under the policy

That hardly seems “full,” now does it? That’s why at Direct Auto & Life we pride ourselves on talking to you straight about your coverages and use their exact names so you’ll know what you’re getting.

How Do I Choose the Coverage That's Right For Me?

There are pros and cons to each type of coverage we've explored. When deciding which could be right for you, it may be helpful to ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do I want to pay for car insurance? A liability only policy with minimum limits tends to be one of the cheapest ways to stay insured and stay legal while out on the road.

  • If my vehicle is damaged or totaled, would I have enough money on hand to repair it or replace it?Remember, your own injuries or property damage are not covered with liability-only insurance.

  • How old is my car? With older vehicles there's a chance your insurance premium could end up being more than the value of your car. While this may tempt some vehicle owners to opt for liability only, it could be a potentially risky scenario if you aren't sure whether or not you have enough cash on hand to replace/repair your vehicle in the event of an accident. According to one consumer expert Clark Howard, a good rule of thumb is to take your monthly premium for comprehensive and collision and multiple it by 12 to determine your yearly cost. If that number is greater than 10% of your car's current value, you may want to consider only purchasing liability. Before making the call, however, it may be best to talk to your insurance agent about the potential advantages and disadvantages to going this route.

The Cost of Liability Only Insurance

Choosing liability only insurance with minimum limits makes getting covered really, really affordable, but is it right for you? Lean on one of our licensed insurance agents if you need help making the decision. They can help you weigh the pros and cons given your driving record, the age and type of vehicle you drive, and your budget. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) or visit a Direct Auto location near you to learn more and get a quote for liability only insurance today!

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*Minimum limit policies in Florida typically provide only Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability coverage and do not include Bodily Injury Liability coverage. They would not be described as a Liability Only insurance. If you have questions about Florida auto insurance call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) or visit a Direct Auto location near you.

Liability Only vs Full Coverage
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