Comprehensive car insurance coverage is an optional coverage that pays to replace or repair any non-collision damages to your vehicle outside of your control. 

Damage caused by natural disasters, falling objects, vandalism, glass and windshield damage, and fire is often included.

Though usually called "comprehensive insurance," comprehensive coverage refers to a type of coverage on an existing car insurance policy, not a separate type of insurance.

Note that lenders may require you to carry comprehensive coverage when you finance or lease a vehicle.

While comprehensive auto insurance is often included with collision insurance under the umbrella of "full coverage," they cover different perils. The age of your car is a good measure of whether you need comprehensive car insurance, but it usually winds up being a good investment regardless.

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 replacements up to your policy dollar limit. 

These events include:

  • Vehicle theft 
  • Natural disasters such as 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
  • Any property theft within the car
  • Medical and legal expenses resulting from a collision
  • Towing, roadside assistance or car rental
  • Lost wages or disability

Fortunately, these exclusions are often covered by liability insurance or by collision coverage.

To make sure you're getting the best comprehensive auto insurance rates you can, compare quotes from multiple providers.

The difference between comprehensive and full coverage car insurance 

Full coverage is a car insurance policy that includes the state’s minimum liability requirements as well as collision and comprehensive coverage. Full coverage can also include several other types of coverage, such as personal injury protection (PIP), depending on if you live in a state that requires certain additional coverages.

Comprehensive car insurance is included in full-coverage car insurance, but it is typically not enough coverage on its own because it does not protect against collisions.

Comprehensive vs. collision insurance

The easiest way to explain the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage is that comprehensive coverage covers damage or loss in a non-collision event, and collision coverage covers damage or loss in a collision event. 

For example, if your car were damaged by a hurricane, it would be covered by comprehensive insurance. If your car were damaged by hitting another car, it would be covered by collision insurance.

Note that neither coverage will cover medical or legal costs resulting from 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 caused to another drivers' vehicle. That's usually covered by liability insurance.

Comprehensive vs. collision insurance
Feature Comprehensive coverage  Collision coverage
What's covered Non-collision damage to your vehicle, such as:
  • Theft
  • Falling objects
  • Fire
  • Natural disasters
  • Vandalism
  • Windshield/glass damage
Collision-related damage to your vehicle, such as:
  • Collision with another vehicle
  • Collision with an object
  • Single-car rollover accidents
What's not covered
  • Any damage or destruction to your car due to collision with another vehicle or stationary object, like a pole
  • Any property theft within the car
  • Medical and legal expenses 
  • Towing, roadside assistance or car rental
  • Lost wages or disability
  • Damage to another person's vehicle
  • Medical bills for you, you passenger(s), other drivers, other passengers
  • Legal expenses resulting from an accident or vehicle damage
Deductible Yes Yes
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, it will probably require you to get comprehensive insurance as part of your lending 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 vs. liability insurance
Comprehensive coverage Liability coverage
  • Optional coverage for most drivers, except those with financed or leased cars.
  • Financially protects your vehicle against damages.
  • Covers you for damages not caused by an accident.
  • Deductible costs a few hundred dollars.
  • Required in most states.
  • Meant to provide reimbursement and coverage for damage sustained by another driver's car.
  • Applied when you are at fault for an accident.
  • Typically, there are no deductibles for liability insurance.

When is comprehensive car insurance worth it?

As mentioned earlier, the state you live in won't require you to buy comprehensive insurance, but your lender will usually ask for it if you're financing. If you’re not financing your vehicle, you have some factors to consider as to whether or not to buy it. 

Seventy-nine percent of insured drivers purchase comprehensive coverage in addition to liability insurance, based on 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 invest in 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 out of the lot. 

When you consider that 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, the value is still high. If it’s damaged in an accident, the cost of repairs and replacing damaged parts will be expensive. Therefore, it would be worth it to have insurance that can cover the costs rather than paying out of pocket.

2. You live in a high-crime area

If you live in a high-crime area, comprehensive insurance may be a good idea. If your neighborhood has a high risk 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 protection investment.

4. You can afford to replace your car if needed

Simply put, 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 your vehicle is hit by a fallen tree branch, 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 vehicle was totaled by the tree branch, your insurer would subtract your $500 deductible from your car’s value prior to the incident and send you a payment for that amount. For 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. But, be wary of setting your deductible too high. If damage is caused to your car, you’ll have to come up with that deductible amount out of pocket. LLC has made every effort to ensure that the information on this site is correct, but we cannot guarantee that it is free of inaccuracies, errors, or omissions. All content and services provided on or through this site are provided "as is" and "as available" for use. LLC makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation of this site or to the information, content, materials, or products included on this site. You expressly agree that your use of this site is at your sole risk.