Liability insurance fixes your vehicle if another driver hits you, and they are found at-fault in the car accident. Collision repairs your car if you’re responsible for an accident or hit an object such as a home, tree or fence.
But how do you fix your car if it’s damaged another way? The answer is you get comprehensive car insurance.
What is comprehensive insurance?
Comprehensive insurance, also sometimes referred to as “comprehensive coverage,” doesn’t cover your typical auto accident. Instead, it covers just about everything else that damages your vehicle.
Comprehensive coverage helps repair or replace your car if a covered event or peril occurs. The types of perils covered by each insurance company vary, so you’ll want to read the fine print, but they’re all very similar. This is because comprehensive auto insurance is generally seen as a type of supplemental auto insurance— meaning it fills the gaps left behind by liability and collision.
When shopping for car insurance, most people don’t think about their car being damaged by anything except another car. However, many claims are caused because your vehicle was damaged by something out of your control.
What does comprehensive insurance cover?
First, let’s understand what comprehensive coverage does not cover. Comprehensive insurance does not cover actual car collisions with another car or rollovers. For that you need your liability and collision coverage.
Instead, comprehensive coverage covers just about everything else that can happen to your vehicle. Most comprehensive policies cover the following types of damages:
- Falling objects — An item falls off another vehicle and hits your car.
- Fire — A wild fire works its way through your community and damages your car.
- Flood — Rainfall causes water levels to rise above your car’s clearance, which causes the inside of your car to become sopping wet.
- Hail — Hail leaves numerous dents on your hood and roof, and small cracks throughout your windshield
- Hitting an animal — You hit a deer in the middle of the night, severely damaging your car’s hood and front bumper.
- Theft — A thief breaks the passenger side window to steal your car’s radio.
- Vandalism — Someone slashes your tires for fun at night.
- Wind — Severe wind topples a tree which in turn totals your car.
As you can see, comprehensive is protection from several things that could easily damage or destroy your car. Because of this, many experienced drivers know comprehensive is a vital part of their auto insurance.
How much does comprehensive coverage cost?
As with any insurance plan, the total cost of comprehensive insurance varies from person to person. Keep in mind auto insurance premiums (regardless of what type you get) are affected by the following:
- Driver’s age
- Driver’s gender
- Marital status
- Driving experience (in years)
- Driving history
- Claims history
- Insurance discounts
- Type of car
- Age of car
- Car ownership status
- Annual mileage
- Credit score
- Insurance history
Keeping this in mind, in the Insurance Information Institute’s latest report in 2017, the U.S. average for comprehensive coverage was just under $160 a year. What you pay could be more or less, depending on the above variables.
Most insurance companies offer multiple payment options. You can opt to either pay your premium all at once, quarterly or monthly. Many insurance companies offer a discount if you pay it all at once.
Do I need comprehensive insurance?
It depends. Each state has a minimum amount of coverage you’ll need to carry, but comprehensive coverage isn’t one of them. Even though your state does not legally require this coverage, your finance company will want you to have it. Since your finance company technically owns your vehicle until it’s paid off, it will want to protect its investment from damage.
Even if your vehicle isn’t financed, consider the following questions before dropping comprehensive from your policy:
- Is there a lot of wildlife in your area?
- Are forest fires a common occurrence at the moment where you live?
- What is the crime rate in your neighborhood?
- Do you get a lot of hail in your state?
- Do you live in a flood zone according to FEMA?
The golden rule with insurance is that if you can comfortably afford coverage and it wouldn’t affect your daily spending habits, you should get it.
Frequently asked questions:
What’s the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage?
Comprehensive covers damage to your vehicle from things like hail, vandalism, theft, fire, flood and wind-related damage.
Collision coverage is, in a way, the exact opposite of comprehensive coverage. Collision covers to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged from hitting another vehicle or object.
When is it okay to drop comprehensive coverage?
If you do not have a lienholder, you are free to drop comprehensive coverage. Remember, you’re not legally required to have it, but it is a good idea.
Is comprehensive insurance worth it?
Yes, it is. Not everything that damages your car has to do with hitting another car. Each year, thousands of cars are totaled or severely damaged when they’re not even on, or there wasn’t another car on the road at the time. If you have a new or valuable car, you want comprehensive coverage.