Comprehensive Car Insurance Coverage: What You Need to Know
A simple car insurance policy has three parts. Liability coverage pays for other people’s injuries and property damage. Collision covers damage to your car from accidents, whether you collide with another vehicle, hit a stationary object, or roll over your car. Comprehensive covers damage to your vehicle that’s caused by something other than a collision.
Liability car insurance is required in every state, so you have to have that coverage to legally drive your vehicle. Collision coverage makes sense, because almost everyone gets into a fender-bender at some point. But you might be wondering: “Do I need comprehensive insurance?”
The short answer is yes, it’s a good idea! Comprehensive car insurance is typically cheap and can save you a lot of money when your car gets damaged.
The long answer follows, in the Compare.com guide to comprehensive coverage explained, which you can find below.
What Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover?
Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your vehicle that’s not caused by a crash or collision. Your car insurance policy will outline exactly what’s covered. In general, comprehensive coverage covers:
- Vehicle theft: Whether someone steals a part of your car or the whole thing, comprehensive coverage can pay for the loss.
- Vandalism: If someone intentionally damages your vehicle, comprehensive coverage can cover the repairs.
- Damage from falling or flying objects: Hailstones, thrown rocks, falling branches — if an object dents your vehicle or breaks the glass, comprehensive can cover the damage.
- Fire or explosion: Comprehensive can cover damage when your vehicle’s burned in an engine fire, wildfire or other blaze.
- Earthquakes: Earthquake-related damage is covered.
- Tornadoes and windstorms: If your car is picked up by a tornado (or just suffers a little damage from a windblown branch), comprehensive coverage can handle it.
- Hail: When hailstones hit your vehicle, comprehensive coverage can pay to repair the dents or broken glass.
- Water or flood damage: Flooding can destroy a vehicle in minutes. Comprehensive coverage can repair or replace it.
- Riot or civil unrest: If your car gets damaged in protests or riots, comprehensive kicks in.
- Animal damage: The most common example is hitting a deer or other large animal, but comprehensive can also cover other types of animal damage — whether that’s goats stomping on your car or a squirrel chewing on the wires.
- Breaking glass, if not caused by a collision: Comprehensive coverage can pay to repair or replace broken windows and windshields. If you opt for full glass coverage, you won’t have to pay a deductible.
What Does Comprehensive Insurance NOT Cover?
The word “comprehensive” means “covering completely or broadly,” but there are a few things that aren’t usually covered. These are called exclusions.
Comprehensive won’t cover normal wear and tear. If your upholstery rips, or your paint gets chipped, you’ll have to pay to fix it yourself.
Comprehensive won’t cover freezing damage. If your engine or other car parts get damaged in sub-freezing weather, insurance won’t cover it.
Comprehensive won’t cover mechanical breakdowns or car maintenance. Car insurance doesn’t pay for car repairs. If your policy includes roadside assistance, then you may have coverage for things like towing and battery jump-starts, but not the repairs themselves.
Comprehensive won’t cover tire wear or road damage. Punctured or worn-down tires aren’t covered by insurance.
Comprehensive won’t cover damage to your vehicle if it happens while you’re using it for ridesharing or delivery. However, you can get an endorsement on your policy that ensures you’re covered for these purposes.
Comprehensive won’t cover damage to other people’s property or bodily injuries. That’s what your liability insurance and other coverage is for.
Comprehensive won’t cover personal possessions in your vehicle. Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may cover stolen or damaged items.
Comprehensive won’t cover special vehicle modifications unless you get an endorsement that says they’re covered.
Comprehensive won’t cover extreme events. Nuclear accidents, war, insurrection: If it’s a plot point in an action movie, comprehensive insurance probably won’t cover it.
Comprehensive won’t cover intentional acts. If you set your own car on fire, hit it with a baseball bat or tag it with spray paint, comprehensive coverage won’t cover the damage. Next time, maybe don’t do that.
How Much Does Comprehensive Coverage Cost?
Compared to liability and collision, comprehensive coverage is pretty cheap. The average annual cost of comprehensive coverage is $159.72, or about $13.31 per month.
But car insurance costs vary dramatically for different drivers, as you know. How much should you pay for comprehensive coverage? That depends on:
- The age and make of your car: Newer and more expensive cars cost more to insure.
- The state where you live: Some states, such as Louisiana, Michigan and Florida, are known for having really expensive car insurance. In others, such as Maine, Iowa and Idaho, it’s much easier to find cheap rates.
- Your address: If you live in a neighborhood with a higher crime rate or higher risk of floods, for example, insurers might charge you more.
- Your deductible: The deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance company pays the rest of your claim. If you choose a low deductible, like $250, you’ll pay higher premiums. Opting for a high deductible, like $1,000, results in lower monthly payments.
- Your claims history: If you’ve had one or more recent car insurance claims, your rates may rise.
Feel like you’re paying too much? Compare.com can help! Search for cheap car insurance with our fast and free quote engine.
Do I Need Comprehensive Coverage?
Unlike liability insurance, comprehensive is optional. You don’t have to have it, unless the terms of your car loan or lease require it. So… do you really need to buy it?
The decision about whether or not to buy comprehensive coverage mainly comes down to the value of your vehicle. Typically, the maximum a comprehensive policy will pay out is the actual cash value of your vehicle, which is its pre-collision value minus the deductible. Ask yourself: Is the money you’d receive worth the cost of insurance?
Let’s say you drive an older SUV with a cash value of about $1,500. It gets damaged in a flood, and your insurance company says it’s totaled. After subtracting your $500 deductible, the company cuts you a check for $1,000. Maybe it would have been better to save the $200 per year you spent on comprehensive coverage and put that money in your new-car fund instead.
The best way to make a decision is to compare quotes on Compare.com. You can see at a glance how much different car insurance companies will charge you. You can also look at quotes for state minimum insurance vs. full-coverage insurance (which includes comprehensive). Comparing really works! Our customers save an average of $720 a year.