Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Important facts to know...

  • Your car insurance policy pays for repairs to your own vehicle if you have a full coverage policy
  • If you have collision coverage and you’re in an accident, it will pay for both exterior and interior damage
  • It’s more typical for interior damage to be caused by perils that are covered under comprehensive coverage
  • If there’s a fire, your car floods inside, or an animal destroys your seats, you can file a comprehensive claim
  • Your insurance coverage does limit how much the insurer has to pay for repairs to the car’s Actual Cash Value

When you think about using your auto insurance, you often picture your car mangled and in need of cosmetic and mechanical repair. Once you see crushed body panels and a totaled bumper, it’s hard to look past the car’s exterior to focus on what’s damaged inside the car.

If the accident was bad enough, there’s almost surely going to be a need for interior repairs as well.

Your car insurance will do more than just make your car run again. The purpose of your coverage is to protect you from financial loss when you suffer from covered losses.

That means that your insurer will pay you or a repair shop to get the vehicle back into the condition it was in prior to the loss.

You need to have the right coverage in place to be covered. Compare coverage options and quotes by entering your zip code into our free rate tool above.

Does insurance pay only when you have full coverage?

You carry insurance for financial protection. What some people don’t fully comprehend is that the financial protection that’s afforded under some policies doesn’t necessarily pay for your own car.

You’re not required by law to insure your own car, you’re required to insure your legal liabilities.

The minimum amount of liability coverage needed varies depending upon where you live. In most states, drivers must purchase at least $15,000 worth of bodily injury and property damage. This covers medical bills, lost wages, and other costs associated with injuries sustained during accidents.

In addition to these basic requirements, you may want to consider purchasing additional BI/PD limits. These higher amounts provide greater compensation for damages incurred due to collisions.

One way to keep your premiums low is to purchase solely what’s required by law in your state. While it’s a strategy that will help you maintain lower premiums, it’s also a practice that will leave you at risk.

By having a plan with liability coverage only, you don’t have protection for your own car. With this being said, statistics show that about 73 percent of policyholders have both liability and physical damage coverage on at least one car.

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What does full coverage pay for?

Full coverage doesn’t pay for it all.

By the name of the coverage, you’d think that buying this type of insurance covers everything. Instead of paying for all types of expenses and all types of losses, your full coverage strictly pays to repair or replace your car after reasonable and covered losses.

When the term full coverage is used, it’s referred to comprehensive and collision coverage options.

Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage provides protection against theft, fire, vandalism, natural disasters, etc. It can even include replacement costs if an item has been stolen or destroyed.

Collision Coverage: Collision coverage protects you against any kind of accidental damage caused by another driver. If someone hits your car while driving recklessly, they could cause extensive damage. Your insurance company would then compensate you for those damages.

All full coverage policies have at least liability coverage and also these two forms of physical damage coverage. The physical damage type of coverage will pay for the following:

  • parts
  • labor
  • vehicle replacement,
  • towing
  • other types of expenses that are incurred after an accident or other incidents

What does comprehensive pay for?

Comprehensive is often called “other than collision” because it pays for financial damages incurred after incidents that don’t involve a crash.

This form of coverage can be confusing since there isn’t always a clear distinction between it and collision. It’s important to understand how each works so you know which option best fits your needs.

Collision refers to any incident involving another vehicle or object. If you collide with someone else’s vehicle, then you’ll likely file a claim against them. Collisions typically result from crashes but they could include things like fender benders as well.

That’s still a very broad definition when you’re not entirely familiar with the different types of perils that fall under this definition. Here are some of the perils that are covered:

What does collision pay for?

Collision pays for much more obvious types of incidents. The basic definition of collision insurance is protection that will pay to repair your vehicle when it strikes an object or when the vehicle is overturned.

While you typically only file a collision claim when you’re at fault, it may kick in if someone without insurance hits you.

The most common reason why people choose to buy collision coverage is so they can get their vehicles repaired faster. If you do need to make a claim, there are many things you should know before filing.

You must be able to prove who was responsible for causing the incident. You must also be able to prove how much money you spent repairing your vehicle. This includes any parts purchased as well as labor costs.

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Is there a limit to how much your full coverage will pay?

Coverage limits work differently when you file a third-party claim as opposed to a first-party damage claim.

When you file a claim for an accident that you’re liable for and a third-party is paid, it’s clear how much coverage you have because your limits are printed clearly on your documents.

Things aren’t so clear when it’s a claim for your car.

Your policy won’t have a stated limit under your physical damage coverage. That’s because the limit can fluctuate every year or even every month. How much your insurer will pay is dependent on what the market says the car is worth.

Your limit is called the Actual Cash Value of the car. If the cost to repair both the exterior and interior of your car exceeds your car’s ACV, the car is totaled and you’ll get a total loss settlement.

Will your policy pay if your car has smoke damage?

If your car catches fire and you have comprehensive coverage, it’s nice to know that all of the direct fire damage will be covered. If it was put out soon enough and your car has enough value, there’s a chance that your car can be repaired.

You have to consider not just the havoc wreaked by the flames, but also damage caused by smoke.

Since a fire was the source of the smoke and fire losses are covered, you don’t have to worry about a claim for interior smoke damage being declined.

The insurer must pay for the following parts that were damaged by flames and smoke:

  • body panels
  • mechanical components
  • electrical
  • the interior components of the car

Will your policy pay for interior damage caused by an animal?

There’s nothing worse than leaving your windows open overnight to discover a rodent has made your car its home. If your seats are torn up or there are feces everywhere, the damage could be covered under comprehensive coverage.

This is coverage that pays when you hit an animal, and when an animal causes damage to your car while it’s in storage or is parked.

Your insurance will pay for interior damage as long as you have the right coverage. Whether it’s an accident, an animal, or a vandal, your full coverage policy should pay you to make the necessary repairs.

If you don’t have full coverage, use our online rate comparison tool and start comparing premiums today.


  1. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/collision-insurance.asp
  2. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/comprehensive-insurance.asp
  3. http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/auto-insurance
  4. https://www.thebalance.com/understanding-full-coverage-auto-insurance-527412
  5. https://www.thebalance.com/comprehensive-vs-collision-coverage-527402
  6. https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-comprehensive-coverage-527110
  7. http://www.kiplinger.com/article/insurance/T004-C000-S001-collision-coverage-don-t-take-chances.html
  8. https://www.irmi.com/online/insurance-glossary/terms/a/actual-cash-value-acv.aspx
  9. http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/insurance/T028-S001-10-surprising-things-insurance-covers/index.html