What Is Comprehensive Insurance?

Understand what comprehensive insurance is and what it covers
Broken windshield of a car after an accident in winter. What is Comprehensive Insurance?

It’s a frosty winter morning. You walk out to your driveway, coffee in hand, ready to head to work. But when you get to your car, you see a big chunk of ice has shattered your windshield. Not a great way to start the day, but your auto insurance should cover the damage, right? That depends. If you have comprehensive insurance, which helps pay for damage to your car from something other than a collision with another vehicle, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You should be covered.

Let’s look at how comprehensive insurance works, what protections it offers, and how to get a personalized car insurance quote from an independent insurance agent.

What Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover?

Comprehensive coverage provides an extra layer of protection for your vehicle and generally costs less than collision coverage. If you get into an accident, comprehensive coverage will pay to repair or replace your vehicle if the damage wasn't caused by a collision with another car or object.

Comprehensive generally covers:

  • Natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes
  • Fire
  • Riots and vandalism
  • Vehicle theft
  • Hitting an animal, such as a deer
  • Falling objects, such as trees, branches, and ice
  • Broken windshield and/or windows

Comprehensive coverage is commonly called "other than collision." However, some collisions, such as colliding with an animal, are still covered under this type of policy.

What's Not Covered by Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance protects your vehicle from theft and certain types of damage, but it does not cover:

  • Damage to your car as a result of a collision
  • Damage to another driver’s vehicle in a collision
  • Medical expenses for you or your passengers
  • Legal fees
  • Loss of income for you or your passengers if you miss work after an accident
  • Personal property stolen from your car (This is generally covered by your homeowners or renters insurance policy.)

Comprehensive vs. Collision Insurance

Let’s compare comprehensive insurance vs. collision insurance and explore the protections that each offers. As the name implies, collision insurance covers damage to your car when you collide with an object – a fence, a guard rail, a post, or another vehicle. On the flipside, comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car from other harmful acts, including theft and vandalism.  

Both comprehensive and collision coverages go above and beyond the legal minimum of liability coverage, which pays only for damage you might cause to other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Which coverage you need depends on the value of your car, how you drive it, and whether you can afford to repair or replace it if you have an accident.

If your car is worth more than $5,000, then a combination of comprehensive and collision coverage can offer you the best protection.

If you need to choose between comprehensive and collision coverage, you should base your decision on the way you drive your car. If you commute in heavy traffic, collision coverage is probably the better choice, whereas comprehensive is better in disaster-prone or high-crime areas. If you’re still unsure, chat with your independent insurance agent to help make the best decision for your needs.

Comprehensive vs. Full Coverage Insurance

The term “comprehensive coverage” shouldn’t be confused with “full coverage,” which includes liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. Rather, comprehensive is only one type of coverage.

When choosing insurance, you’ll want to consider protection for:

  • Liability against lawsuits
  • Physical damage to your car
  • Injuries to you, your passengers, and to others

Most insurance companies offer policies with complete protection – or “full coverage.” An independent agent can help steer you toward the best policy so you can get the protection you need at a price you can afford.


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Comprehensive Coverage Deductibles

When you buy comprehensive coverage, you select a deductible. A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in.

Here’s an example:

Your vehicle is damaged by hail. You have a $500 deductible and the total cost to repair your car is $1,500. This means that you pay the $500 deductible, and your insurance covers the remaining $1,000.

It’s important to understand that comprehensive insurance coverage has a limit, which is the maximum the insurance company will pay toward a covered claim. This is generally the actual cash value of your vehicle.

How does this limit work if your car is stolen? Your insurance company will reimburse you for the car’s depreciated value, less your deductible. This means that if you wanted to replace your stolen vehicle with a newer make and model, you’d have to cover the difference between the reimbursement amount and the cost of the new car.

Collision and comprehensive coverages have separate deductibles and limits, and you can choose different deductible amounts for each type.

Is Comprehensive Coverage Required?

While comprehensive insurance isn’t required by law, it may be required by a lender or dealership if you finance or lease a vehicle. Comprehensive offers valuable protections and should be considered when you’re deciding what insurance to get.

By contrast, liability insurance is required by most states but doesn’t cover damage to your vehicle – it covers only damage you cause to other people or vehicles in a collision. While collision insurance helps pay for damage to your car from a crash, it doesn’t cover theft or non-collision-related damage. Comprehensive insurance can provide extra protection for your vehicle – whether you’re on the road or parked in your driveway – and give you added peace of mind.

Get a Quote for Comprehensive Coverage from Trusted Choice

When it comes to getting an insurance quote, you have a lot of choices. Although you can get an instant quote online, you might miss out on important details and it can’t give you the personalized attention you’d get by talking to an independent agent. An independent insurance agent is your partner on your insurance journey and will work with you to answer all your questions and find an affordable policy that meets your coverage needs. Get in touch today and discover the best insurance options for your needs!

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

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