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Full coverage car insurance rates by state - average cost

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No insurance policy can cover you and your car in every circumstance. But a 'full coverage car insurance' policy covers you in most of them.

Full Coverage Car Insurance

Insurance is meant to protect you from being sued, or left financially stranded by a totaled car, or ruined by an uninsured driver. That doesn't mean an accident won't leave you with expenses and hassles you wouldn't face otherwise.

Full coverage insurance is shorthand for car insurance policies that cover not only your liability but damage to your car as well. Here's how to weigh liability vs. full coverage.

What is full coverage car insurance?

What is considered full coverage insurance to one driver may not be the same as even another driver in the same household.

The term is thrown around and the full coverage insurance meaning varies depending on who you ask; however, in general, most drivers find full coverage auto insurance means you have bought not only mandatory state coverages, such as liability insurance – which is required virtually everywhere and pays for the damage you inflict on other people and property – as well as comprehensive and collision coverages.

Ideally, full coverage means you have insurance in the types and amounts that are appropriate for your income, assets and risk profile. The point of all types of car insurance is to keep you from being financially ruined by an accident or incident.

If you want to go above and beyond what a normal full coverage policy entails, you can buy a policy with every conceivable car insurance option available. If you so feel like shelling out the money you can get a lot of protection. A fully loaded policy may look like this if you went for nearly every option available:

  • The highest available liability limits (usually $250,000 per person bodily injury, $500,000 per accident, $100,000 property damage)
  • Collision and comprehensive coverage - Limits are the value of your vehicle.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage - Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage with limits matching your liability coverage.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage - Pays for damages to your car if an uninsured motorist damages it (not available in all states).
  • All available medical coverages in the highest amounts possible (personal injury protection in no-fault states and medical payments coverage in most others)
  • Rental reimbursement coverage
  • Towing and labor
  • Preferred-customer add-ons such as new car replacement programs or vanishing deductibles
  • Custom equipment - If you have a special paint job or other custom item you need specific coverage on.
  • Gap insurance - If you owe more on the vehicle than it is worth.

"In reality, there is no policy that will cover you and your car in every situation," says Penny Gusner, senior consumer analyst for Insurance.com. "If you don't have the money to buy all the offerings, then don't. Just make sure to buy what your state requires and the other coverages that are needed for your specific situation, such as comp and collision if your car is leased or financed."

What does full coverage insurance cover?

A typical full coverage policy has liability, plus comprehensive and collision coverages and depending on state law requirements may include uninsured motorist and a medical coverage of personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay).  These types of coverages cover:

  • The damage you do to others, up to your liability limits.
  • Your car, up to its fair market value, minus your deductible, if you are at fault or the other driver does not have insurance or if it is destroyed by a natural disaster or stolen (comp and collision)
  • Your injuries and of your passengers, if you are hit by an uninsured motorist, up to the limits of your uninsured motorist policy (uninsured motorist or UM).
  • Your injuries and those of your passengers, if you are at fault, up to the amount of your medical coverage (PIP or MedPay)

What doesn't full coverage cover?

Full coverage doesn't cover every situation you and your car may encounter. In fact, full coverage car insurance policies have exclusions to specific incidents. Each full cover insurance policy will have a list of exclusions, meaning items it will not cover.

Typical full coverage car insurance won't pay for certain events. Common exclusions are:

  • Racing or other speed contests
  • Off-road use
  • Use in a car-sharing program
  • Catastrophes such as war or nuclear contamination
  • Destruction or confiscation by government or civil authorities
  • Using your vehicle for livery or delivery purposes; business use
  • Intentional damage

Typical comprehensive and collision policies won’t cover every situation. Normal exclusions are:

  • Freezing
  • Wear and tear
  • Mechanical breakdown (often an optional coverage)
  • Tire damage
  • Items stolen from the car (those may be covered by your homeowners or renters policy, if you have one)
  • A rental car while your own is being repaired (an optional coverage)
  • Electronics that aren’t permanently attached
  • Custom parts and equipment (some small amount may be specified in the policy, but you can usually add a rider for higher amounts)

How much is full coverage car insurance?

Car insurance rates are very specific to the person who owns the car: Your age, driving record, credit history and location count as much as the kind of car you are driving. Rates also vary by hundreds or even thousands of dollars from company to company. That's why we always suggest, as your first step to saving money, that you compare quotes.

Here's a comparison of the average yearly cost of the following coverage levels, by state:

  • State-mandated minimum liability, or, bare-bones coverage needed to legally drive a car
  • Full coverage liability of $100,000 per person injured in an accident you cause, up to $300,000 per accident, and $100,000 for property damage you cause (100/300/100), with a $500 deductible for comprehensive and collision
  • You'll see how much full coverage auto insurance costs per month, and annually. You'll also see the difference in cost for full coverage compared to state minimum liability-only coverage.
  • The average annual rate for full coverage with higher liability limits of 100/300/100 is around $1,150 more than a bare minimum policy. If you choose lower liability limits, such as 50/100/50, you can save but still have decent protection.
  • The average monthly cost to boost coverage from state minimum to full coverage (with 100/300/100 limits) is about $97, but in some states it's much less, in others you'll pay more.

Full coverage car insurance cost by state

State Full Coverage Annual Average Rate State Minimum Average Annual Rate Difference yearly Difference monthly
New York$2,062$867$1,195$100
Rhode Island$2,040$738$1,302$109
New Jersey$1,993$846$1,147$96
West Virginia$1,654$541$1,113$93
South Carolina$1,653$617$1,036$86
South Dakota$1,643$323$1,320$110
New Mexico$1,604$479$1,125$94
North Dakota$1,577$423$1,154$96
North Carolina$1,425$438$987$82
New Hampshire$1,086$424$662$55

*Methodology: The table shows the average annual rate for a 2019 Honda Accord culled from nearly all ZIP codes in the state from up to six major carriers. Data was provided for Insurance.com by Quadrant Information Services. New Hampshire doesn’t require drivers to have car insurance, but most drivers do, and we’ve listed what is mandated if you choose to carry coverage.

When should I drop full coverage car insurance?

Analyzing our data we found that 40% of drivers who own 10-year-old model cars are buying comprehensive and collision coverage. Many consider dropping these optional coverages on a car nearing the end of its life. If you can manage such a loss -- that is, replace a stolen or totaled car without a payout from insurance -- do the math on the potential savings.

For example, a 25-year-old woman with a clean driving record living in Stirling, N.J., would pay about $1,302 a year for “full coverage” (50/100/50 liability, uninsured motorist, personal injury protection and comprehensive and collision coverage with a $500 deductible) on a 10-year-old Ford Focus. Dropping comprehensive and collision, she would pay about $806 a year – a savings of $496 a year.

Let's say her car is worth $4,450 as the “actual cash value” an insurance company would pay. If her car were totaled tomorrow and she still carried full coverage, she would get a check for $3,950 – the actual cash value of the car minus her $500 deductible. In other words, she is paying $496 a year to protect herself against a $3,950 loss.

Of course, the value of the car drops with each passing year, and so do the insurance premiums. At a certain point, most drivers would choose to accept the risk and bank the collision and comprehensive premiums because they would be unlikely to find a reliable replacement with the insurance payout.