If you are wondering, “what is a comprehensive car insurance claim?”Bankrate’s insurance editorial team can help. Comprehensive coverage is an optional type of car insurance that provides more robust coverage for events other than accidents—such as weather events, theft or glass breakage. It, along with collision insurance, are part of a full coverage policy. If you have a car loan or lease, it is likely that your lender requires you to carry collision and comprehensive insurance. Even if you own your car outright, though, you may want to consider including comprehensive insurance when you purchase your policy so that you will be financially protected in the event something other than a car accident damages or destroys your car.

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Reasons to consider comprehensive coverage

If you have a vehicle you cannot afford to repair or replace out of pocket if it’s damaged, you may consider purchasing comprehensive and collision car insurance coverage. If your vehicle is financed or leased, you will almost certainly be required to carry what’s known as full coverage car insurance to protect the lender’s investment in your vehicle. Most car insurance companies offer this type of coverage in addition to state-mandated liability insurance. Although it adds to the cost of your policy, it gives you additional financial protection to repair damage to your vehicle that minimum coverage car insurance doesn’t offer.

Conversely, full coverage may not be worth the cost if your car is old or needs repair and you own it outright. In those cases, the cost of full coverage car insurance may outweigh the benefits. If you do not want to pay the premiums, do not need it and can comfortably replace your vehicle out of pocket, you may be better off skipping full coverage. However, you can usually carry comprehensive coverage without collision coverage, so if you want partial coverage for your vehicle for damage caused out of your control, comprehensive coverage may still offer benefits.

Comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your car caused by an event other than a collision. In this case, this generally means your car damage was caused by events like hail, animals, glass breakage and theft. Understanding what comprehensive car insurance coverage offers and when it may be beneficial to file a claim might help you decide whether or not to add this option to your policy.

What is comprehensive coverage and what does it cover?

Comprehensive covers repairing or replacing your vehicle when it is damaged from an incident other than colliding with another vehicle or object. When referring to a full coverage policy in auto insurance, it means a policy that includes both comprehensive and collision, as well as state-required liability coverage.

Examples of typical vehicle damage covered by comprehensive includes:

  • Hail damage and other weather-related events
  • Damage from hitting an animal
  • Theft
  • Vandalism and riots
  • Glass breakage (windshield and windows)
  • Fire
  • Falling objects, such as a tree limb

Comprehensive coverage does not cover the normal wear and tear for your vehicle. For example, when you need new tires or brake pads you would pay for these maintenance items out of pocket or through another warranty program. It also does not include damage to your vehicle from hitting a vehicle or object. If there is another vehicle involved, then it falls under collision.

When should I file a comprehensive claim?

Knowing when to file a comprehensive claim means understanding how much your deductible – the amount you pay out of pocket – is before filing the claim. If the cost to repair your vehicle is under your deductible amount, you won’t be able to file a claim because your out-of-pocket will cover the damage. If the repair costs are only slightly higher than your deductible amount, it may not be worth filing a claim and risking a premium increase upon your auto policy’s renewal.

If you choose to file a claim, there are a few steps involved in submitting it to your insurer.

  1. Contact a customer service representative or your local agent through the mobile app, online or a phone call and inform them of the situation.
  2. Submit any documentation, such as pictures, videos or papers related to your claim.
  3. Your insurance provider may ask you to get estimates from local repair shops.
  4. Each state has various laws regarding the amount of time you have to submit a claim, so be sure to ask the insurance adjuster about the timeline.

Reasons to consider purchasing comprehensive coverage

Unlike liability insurance, states do not require comprehensive coverage to drive legally. However, if you lease or finance your vehicle, the finance company or lessor will usually require the coverage. For other drivers who have the option to purchase comprehensive, you may find it beneficial to have this coverage and limit your out-of-pocket expenses when there is damage in a covered claim.

Fortunately, comprehensive coverage is typically inexpensive compared to other aspects of a car insurance policy at an average of just $172 per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).

Frequently asked questions

    • While comprehensive and collision insurance are often lumped together, they are two different coverage options in an auto insurance policy. Comprehensive covers damage to your vehicle caused by something other than a collision, such as damage from hail storms or hitting an animal. Collision coverage covers expenses towards repairing or replacing a vehicle when there is damage from colliding with another vehicle or object. Examples of collision coverage include being involved in an accident with another vehicle or hitting a mailbox or tree. Both comprehensive and collision have deductibles that are independent of each other. For example, you can carry a $100 comprehensive deductible but a $500 collision deductible if desired.
    • In some cases, the answer may be “yes.” Unless you have accident forgiveness coverage, your insurer may increase the cost of your policy after a claim, even if the accident is not your fault. If your claim is only slightly over the amount of your deductible, therefore, it may be better for you to pay out-of-pocket to avoid a possible increase. Filing a claim may also result in the loss of a claims-free discount if you have one.
    • Most lenders require you to keep comprehensive coverage for as long as you are financing or leasing your vehicle. Once you own your vehicle outright, then you may consider dropping it. If you live in a state where there are a high instance of hail storms, wildlife, a higher crime area or an area prone to flooding, then you may want to consider keeping it as long as your budget allows. Another rule of thumb is to calculate if your car is worth 10 times the premium or more; if it is not, comprehensive coverage may not be financially worth carrying, according to Triple-I.
    • If you’re looking for affordable comprehensive car insurance, it is often helpful to shop around and obtain quotes from multiple providers. Rates can vary, sometimes drastically, from one carrier to the next. However, it’s important to compare the same coverage options, including comprehensive, to ensure you are getting a true side-by-side comparison. It may also benefit you to ask about any car insurance discounts you may qualify for, both with your current insurer and any prospective carriers, as many carriers offer a variety of ways for drivers to save on their premiums.
    • No single company will always offer you the cheapest prices on full coverage or any other car insurance. Your rate will be determined by a variety of factors that are unique to you, from your driving history to the make and model of your car. To find the cheapest option for your needs, it can be helpful to start with a list of insurers who are known for offering the cheapest full coverage policies and ask for quotes from several of them to see which one offers you the lowest rate.