Collision coverage, if purchased as part of your policy, is a type of insurance policy that protects your vehicle in the event of a car accident regardless of whose fault it is.  If you caused the accident, then your only option will have to use your collision protection and your rates may (and probably will) go up as a result.  But if the other driver caused the accident, then you will not be penalized for using your collision coverage as insurance rates are determined based on fault.   You may need to use your collision even if you were not at fault, for example, if the other driver was driving without valid car insurance.

Who Is Covered?

The policy holder, all listed vehicle operators or named insureds (persons named on the policy as an insured person, whether as a vehicle operator or otherwise), and permissive users provided they are not excluded under the policy provision (for example, people who live with you and are not added to your policy).

In addition, with respect to an insured vehicle, the following may be included as insured/covered persons under the collision coverage provisions of an automobile insurance policy: (a) blood relative, (b) relatives through marriage (many policies have an additional requirement that the relative be living with the insured).

Permissive User

A permissive user of your car means someone who you gave permission to drive your car.  For example, if you let your friend (who does not live with you) drive your car to the store, or drive home from the movies, your collision coverage will be in force and pay for damages to your vehicle in the event of a car accident.

Household Residents

Under most California car insurance policies, residents of your household are automatically excluded unless they are specifically named as vehicle operators on in your policy declarations.

No Limit of Coverage

There is no limit of coverage in the world of collision protection.   Rather, your policy premium is priced out based on the year, make, model, and value of your vehicle.  So no matter the amount of damage to your car, your collision coverage will either repair your car or if the repair cost will exceed the value of your car then it will pay you the replacement cost.

Uninsured Drivers

If your car accident attorney has obtained the traffic collision report and identified the other driver’s insurance policy, then your lawyer can submit your claim through the other driver’s insurance company.  But if the policy report has not been prepared yet, or if the other driver turns out to be uninsured, then you will need to use your collision protection under your policy.

There is one other option.  Some California insurance policies offer uninsured motorist property damage protection, which works similarly to collision coverage.  However, unlike collision coverage, California uninsured motorist property damage protection usually has a very small limit of coverage, usually no more than $3,500.00.   So if the damages to your vehicle are very small and you have this type of protection, you may not need to use your collision coverage in an uninsured motorist scenario.