We’ve all been there. Walking out to your parked car, you find it’s been side-swiped (and there’s no note!). Or driving on the highway, a pebble cracks the windshield. First thought: Will my car insurance cover this?

There are 2 basic forms of coverage. First, you have liability, which is required in most states. It helps pay for the other guy’s bodily injuries or property damage if you’re found at fault. Second is coverage for your car.  Comprehensive insurance, for example, covers your car for stuff that’s not a “collision.” Things that are out of your control such as severe weather or your car getting stolen. Collision insurance covers your car for, well, collisions. Like if you slide into a telephone pole or accidentally rear-end someone.  

Let’s paint a clearer picture … check out these 16 uh-oh scenarios and the auto coverages that apply.

  1. A dead tree limb falls on your car — Comprehensive.
  2. You hit a fallen tree limb — Collision.
  3. You accidentally hit a cyclist — Bodily injury liability.
  4. Oh dear. You hit a deer — Comprehensive. (Trick question! This is one type of “crash” covered by Comp.)
  5. A pesky pebble on the highway majorly cracks your windshield — Comprehensive.
  6. Rude. Someone keys your car — Comprehensive.
  7. You see that your car’s been dinged by someone’s door in the parking lot — Collision … Wait, why collision? Well, because the damage was caused by another car, some insurers … like Esurance … consider it “collision damage.” After all, their door did collide with your car.  
  8. Car gets rolled over during a protest — Comprehensive.
  9. A bear ransacks your car looking for snacks — Comprehensive.
  10. Thanks a lot, Mother Nature. A hailstorm ruins your paint job — Comprehensive.
  11. You sneeze while driving and crash into a fence — Property damage liability (for their fence) and Collision (for your car).
  12. You hit black ice and roll your car — Collision.
  13. You back out of a parking space and hit a car driving past, injuring the driver — Property damage liability.
  14. You have a seizure while driving and rear-end another car — Liability and Collision.
  15. What are the chances? Your car is struck by lightning — Comprehensive.
  16. Your car is charred in a forest fire – Comprehensive. 

If you’re hurt

In many of these scenarios, you or a passenger may get injured. But having the right coverages can make a trying situation WAY easier to bear … like Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Depending on your state, either can help foot medical bills for you and your passengers — no matter who’s at fault. They can even step in if you’re struck by a car as a pedestrian. 

If you’re stuck

After an accident, if you need a tow or just aren’t savvy with a jack, Emergency Roadside Service (ERS) can be a lifesaver. And once you’re towed to the auto shop, Rental Coverage can help pay for a temporary set of wheels while your car’s being repaired.

Get a quote

There are A LOT of coverages and it can feel downright painful finding ones that are right for you — without breaking the bank. But an auto quote from Esurance can help you do just that. We’ll ask you questions and suggest car insurance coverage types based on your answers. Start a quote with Esurance … and find out how we’re making insurance surprisingly painless.  

Insurance 101 | Car insurance 101


about Hannah

Hannah Fairbanks is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her husband and 2 daughters. When she’s not writing, you might find her reading, packing bento box lunches for her kids, and making sure she gets in at least 10,000 Fitbit steps a day.