Comprehensive car insurance coverage pays to replace or repair most non-collision damage to your vehicle. This usually includes damage caused by natural disasters, falling objects, vandalism and fire.
Comprehensive auto insurance is often included with collision insurance under the umbrella of "full coverage." No state requires drivers to carry comprehensive coverage, but many lenders require it for financed or leased vehicles. It can be a good investment regardless if your vehicle is still fairly new or worth a lot of money.
In this article
What is covered under comprehensive auto insurance?
Comprehensive auto insurance covers damage to or destruction of your vehicle caused by events other than a crash or collision. If a peril covered by your comprehensive insurance policy damages or destroys your vehicle, it will pay for repairs or replacement up to your policy dollar limit.
These events include:
- Vehicle theft
- Natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes
- Windshield or glass damage
- Falling objects, such as branches and ice
- Windshield and window damage
- Explosion, fire and smoke damage
- Hail and snow
- Damage caused by hitting an animal
- Civil disturbance and vandalism
What does comprehensive car insurance not cover?
- Any damage or destruction to your car due to collision with another vehicle or stationary object, like a pole
- Property theft from within the car
- Medical and legal expenses resulting from a collision
- Towing, roadside assistance or car rental
- Lost wages or disability
Fortunately, liability and/or collision insurance often cover these exclusions.
To make sure your comprehensive auto insurance rates are the best and cheapest they can be, compare quotes from multiple providers.
Differences between comprehensive and full-coverage car insurance
Full-coverage car insurance typically includes the state's minimum liability requirements, as well as collision and comprehensive coverage. A full-coverage policy may also include several other types of coverage, like personal injury protection (PIP), if you live in a state that requires them.
Comprehensive car insurance usually isn't enough coverage on its own because it does not protect against collisions.
Comprehensive vs. collision insurance
Collision coverage pays to repair damage caused by a collision with another vehicle or object. Comprehensive coverage pays to repair other types of damage, such as damage caused by falling objects, fire and weather.
If a hurricane damages your car, for instance, comprehensive insurance should cover the repair costs. If your car is damaged by hitting another car, collision insurance would cover it.
Neither comprehensive nor collision insurance covers medical or legal costs tied to an accident or vehicle damage. Those costs are usually covered by another driver's liability insurance, medical payments coverage or personal injury protection. You also won't be reimbursed for damage you cause to another vehicle. That's covered by liability insurance.
|Feature||Comprehensive coverage||Collision coverage|
|What's covered||Non-collision damage to your vehicle, such as:
||Collision-related damage to your vehicle, such as:
|What's not covered||
|How cost is determined||By the value of your vehicle and deductible you select||By the value of your vehicle and deductible you select|
|Coverage limit||Actual cash value||Actual cash value|
|Required or optional?||Not required by any state but required if leasing or financing a vehicle. Otherwise optional.||Not required by any state but required if leasing or financing a vehicle. Otherwise optional.|
Comprehensive vs. liability insurance
A key difference between comprehensive and liability auto insurance is that liability insurance is required in most states and comprehensive coverage is not required in any state. But if you're purchasing a car through a lender, they'll probably require you to get comprehensive insurance as part of your agreement.
Comprehensive insurance and liability insurance also have very different coverages.
Liability insurance covers medical bills, legal fees and property damage to others if you are responsible for a car accident.
|Comprehensive coverage||Liability coverage|
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When is comprehensive car insurance worth it?
The state you live in won't require you to buy comprehensive insurance, but your lender will usually make you buy it if you finance your vehicle. If you're not financing your vehicle, you can choose to buy comprehensive coverage or not.
Seventy-nine percent of insured drivers purchase comprehensive coverage in addition to liability coverage, according to an Insurance Information Institute analysis of 2019 NAIC data.
We recommend you purchase comprehensive car insurance if:
1. You have a new or expensive vehicle
If you have an older car, it may not be worth your while to buy comprehensive insurance. A comprehensive claim pays out at fair market value. This means that you will be reimbursed for your car after it's damaged or destroyed based on what it is currently worth, not what you paid for it.
Considering you'll have to pay your deductible before you get the remainder of your claim from your auto insurer, the return on investment may not be worth it.
On the other hand, if your vehicle is only a few years old, its value should still be high. If a covered peril damages it, the cost of repairs and replacing damaged parts can be expensive. Therefore, it would be worth it to have insurance that covers those costs rather than paying out of pocket.
2. You live in a high-crime area
Comprehensive insurance also may be a good idea if you live in a high-crime area. If your neighborhood sees a lot of theft or vandalism, your car insurance rates may already be higher, so you probably wouldn't want to have to pay for a new car or repair damages out of pocket.
3. You live in a city where extreme weather is common
Do you live in an area prone to extreme winters or heavy winds? Both can cause ice or a heavy branch to fall on your car and cause a lot of damage. If bad weather is a mainstay in your area, comprehensive auto coverage can be a good investment.
4. You can afford to replace your car if needed
Can you afford to buy a new car quickly if a falling tree totals your current one? If you rely on your car on a daily basis, this can put you in a bad position.
According to our data, it costs just an additional $8.75 a month to add comprehensive coverage to your basic auto insurance policy.
Unless you have a strong bank account and don't mind using it to buy a new car, getting comprehensive auto insurance coverage is in your best interest.
How your comprehensive deductible works
In most cases, comprehensive car insurance requires you to pay a set amount out of pocket, or a deductible, before the policy covers the rest of the claim. Comprehensive coverage is usually sold with a deductible of $500 to $1,000.
For example, say you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy and a tree branch falls on your vehicle, causing $2,500 worth of damage to the roof and hood. If you had a deductible of $500 and filed a comprehensive claim, your insurance company would pay out $2,000 to repair the damage (the total repair cost minus your deductible). You would pay the $500 deductible out of pocket.
If the tree branch totaled your vehicle, your insurer would subtract your $500 deductible from your car's value prior to the incident and send you a payment for that amount. As an example, if your car was worth $15,000 before it was totaled, your insurer would pay out $14,500 (your car's value minus your $500 deductible).
To lower the cost of comprehensive car insurance coverage, you can raise your deductible. Be careful about setting your deductible too high, though. If your car is damaged, you'll have to pay the deductible amount out of your own pocket.
Frequently asked questions
Comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your car caused by almost anything other than a collision. Comprehensive covers damage from fire, falling objects, natural disasters, vandalism and more.
Comprehensive car insurance isn't required by any state law. However, if you finance your car, your lender may require you to carry it along with collision coverage to protect its investment.
The deductible is the agreed-upon amount in your policy that you pay before your car insurance company pays out on the remainder of your claim amount.
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