Comprehensive Insurance: What It Is and What It Covers


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ByMark Fitzpatrick
ByMark Fitzpatrick

Updated: May 31, 2024

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The definition of comprehensive coverage is insurance designed to help you pay for repairs caused by anything other than a collision. It is typically purchased together with collision coverage as part of full coverage car insurance. If you're leasing your car or still making payments, your lending institution may require you to have this level of coverage, even if your state doesn’t.

It’s typically a good idea to include this coverage in your policy, especially if you have a newly bought or high-value car. You can make a comprehensive insurance claim if your vehicle is damaged by something other than a collision with another car.

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Key Takeaways

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Comprehensive insurance is often referred to as "other than collision" coverage since it helps for damages other than those resulting from a crash. These may include damages from trees, extreme weather conditions, fire or vandalism.

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There are several things comprehensive insurance doesn’t cover, such as legal fees, the cost of repairs from wear and tear and treatments for injuries you or your passengers sustain.

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It’s best to have comprehensive insurance if you drive a new or high-value car. Having this coverage is also handy if you live in an area where vehicle theft happens frequently.

Why Trust MoneyGeek? MoneyGeek’s content process involves collecting factual information from many sources, analyzing that information and producing resources and guides that address the needs of our readers and help them make better financial decisions. We fact-check each guide and resource, ensuring it offers valuable information based on our quality editorial standards. Our team analyzes the information you need to know to understand comprehensive insurance, its cost, how it works and whether it will benefit you.

What Is Comprehensive Insurance?

Comprehensive insurance is a type of coverage that helps pay for repairs for damages caused by non-collision-related incidents. Unlike liability insurance, most states don't require comprehensive coverage. You typically get comprehensive insurance along with collision coverage when you purchase full coverage car insurance.

You can file for a comprehensive claim when your car sustains damage due to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods or earthquakes. It also protects you from costs from damages from vandalism or fire. If your car needs repairs because you hit a deer or other animals, comprehensive insurance covers them as well.

What Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover?

Comprehensive insurance helps cover the cost of damages to your car that aren’t caused by collisions with another vehicle — that's why it's also known as "other than collision" coverage in some states.

Comprehensive insurance covers several non-collision-related accidents, including car theft, vandalism, natural disasters and more.

Accident
Description

Theft

Comprehensive insurance helps pay to replace your vehicle if it’s stolen. It also covers repairs if your vehicle is damaged, such as a broken window from a theft or break-in attempt. Besides the outright theft of your car, comprehensive coverage also extends to events related to the theft. These can include damages from someone breaking into your vehicle or having your keys stolen.

Vandalism

If your car is keyed or spray-painted, you can file a comprehensive insurance claim to be reimbursed for the cost of repairs. Remember, though, that your coverage only extends to your vehicle. If any of your belongings — like a bag inside the car — are defaced or stolen, your policy usually won’t cover them.

Natural Disasters

Occurrences of earthquakes, tornadoes or hail can result in multiple dents or turn your vehicle into a total loss. For floods or hurricanes, make sure your policy was in effect before flood forecasts or storm warnings were issued.

Fire

According to the National Fire Protection Association, vehicle fires caused around $1.9 billion in damages in 2018. Whether a garage fire, engine fire or an accident ruins your car, comprehensive insurance will help you pay for repairs.

Animal Damage

Comprehensive insurance covers damages caused by animals of all types and sizes. Comprehensive insurance claims may even reimburse you for damages caused by your pets.

Most accidents covered by comprehensive insurance are self-explanatory, but several may require more details. These are the likes of vandalism, civil disturbance and negligence. Comprehensive insurance also covers damages from chewed-on wires or hitting animals on the road.

Negligence may include situations like failing to maintain your trees until a branch falls and hits your car or backing out of your driveway without checking for other vehicles. In the event of a theft, your provider may reject your claim if you left your keys inside your car since this points to negligence.

Because negligence claims can be rooted in many things, be prepared to give a recorded statement detailing the events leading to the incident when filing a claim.

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In insurance, negligence means you didn’t do something we should have, and your actions eventually caused damages. Insurance companies cover some cases of negligence, but it depends on your state’s definition of negligence.

What Does Comprehensive Insurance Not Cover?

If your car sustains damages from non-collision-related incidents, your comprehensive insurance may cover it. However, it doesn’t help you with all non-collision-related costs.

Some items that comprehensive insurance doesn't cover are:

  • Legal fees
  • Damages to the other driver’s property if you caused an accident (covered by liability insurance)
  • Repairs from wear and tear
  • The cost of treatment for injuries you or others sustained
  • Lost income for you or your passengers as a result of an accident
  • Theft of personal property in your car

Although comprehensive and collision insurance are included in a full coverage car insurance policy, they’re not the same. Collision coverage helps you with costs from repairs resulting from crashes, while comprehensive insurance pays for damages not caused by a collision.

How Does Comprehensive Insurance Work?

If your car sustains damages from a non-collision-related incident, comprehensive insurance can help you pay the cost of repairs. Unlike liability coverage, comprehensive insurance comes with a deductible.

A deductible is an amount you pay out of pocket each time you file a claim before your provider. You can choose the amount of deductible your policy has, which affects the premium you pay each year.

For example, let’s say the car you’re driving is worth $8,000, and you have a $1,000 deductible. If your vehicle is totaled during a covered incident, your policy will reimburse you $7,000 to replace your car. Without this coverage, you’ll have to shoulder the entire cost of replacement out of pocket.

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Some people may use “comprehensive” and “full coverage” car insurance interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same. Although the term “comprehensive” means “completely,” it doesn’t mean it protects you from all non-collision-related expenses.

Do I Need Comprehensive Coverage?

Most states require drivers to at least carry liability insurance as part of their minimum insurance requirements. On the other hand, comprehensive insurance is optional. Although you don’t need to have comprehensive insurance in your car insurance policy, having it as an added coverage can help financially protect you in the event of an accident.

Expenses don’t just come from collisions. Even if your car is stationary, it can get damaged for several reasons. Comprehensive insurance helps you pay for repairs caused by incidents other than crashes.

When to Get Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

Although you don’t need to have comprehensive insurance in your auto insurance policy, there are several situations wherein it would come in handy. MoneyGeek provides a guide regarding which scenarios would most benefit from comprehensive insurance.

When deciding how much insurance you need, consider whether you’re still financing your car, your car’s value, and the risk factors specific to your location.If you find yourself in any of these situations, you may want to consider adding comprehensive insurance to your policy.

1
You’re leasing or financing your car.

Comprehensive insurance is a must if you’re still making payments on your car or driving a leased vehicle. Most lending facilities require you to carry full coverage car insurance, which includes collision and comprehensive coverage.

2
Your car is high-value.

The higher your car’s value, the more you could benefit from comprehensive insurance. Whether you have a luxury car or a new vehicle, this coverage pays for repairs resulting from non-collision-related incidents. Liability-only means you’ll have to pay for repair costs yourself.

3
You can’t save enough to replace your car.

Having comprehensive insurance means your policy will reimburse you for the cost of replacing your car if it’s totaled. If you’re still not in the financial position to replace your vehicle out of pocket, including comprehensive insurance on your policy is a practical move.

4
Your location is prone to car theft.

You may have to pay for a higher premium if you include comprehensive insurance in your policy, but it may outweigh the cost of having to replace your car if it’s stolen. If you know car thefts or instances of vandalism frequently happen in your area, comprehensive coverage may be worth the additional expense.

5
Your location is prone to natural disasters.

Different areas have different levels of risk exposure to specific weather hazards. If you know that your location frequently experiences floods, earthquakes or hurricanes, having comprehensive insurance is a solid move to have additional financial protection for your car.

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Comprehensive insurance coverage is important because it provides additional protection to your assets. Collisions aren’t the only reason you may need to get your car repaired — even if your vehicle’s parked, it can still be damaged. Although it may increase your annual premium, having comprehensive insurance may turn out to be cost-effective in the long run.

When to Drop Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

Despite the numerous benefits comprehensive insurance brings, it’s not for everyone. Paying for comprehensive insurance may not be worth it in the following scenarios.

1
Your car is low-value.

Figuring out how much your car is worth is a determining factor when you're deciding whether you should stop paying for comprehensive insurance. If your vehicle isn’t worth much money, it may not be worth it to pay for extra coverage.

2
You have enough cash to replace your car.

If you have enough savings to replace your car, you may opt to use your savings to buy a new one instead of paying for comprehensive insurance yearly.

3
You've paid off your vehicle.

You can opt to stop investing in comprehensive car insurance if you’ve completed your car payments.

4
You have another family member whose policy can cover your car.

If you have another family living at the same address with a separate car insurance policy, see if their policy can include the car.

When you’re in the process of thinking about whether you should continue paying for comprehensive insurance or not, keep the 10% rule in mind. Experts say that dropping comprehensive coverage is a more practical move if your premiums are worth more than 10% of your vehicle’s cash value.

If you and your spouse don’t have joint car insurance, make sure that you’re not covering the same vehicle — you may be paying double for a single car’s coverage. See if it’ll be more practical to have both under a single policy. This move will likely work out in your favor since some car insurance providers offer a discount if you insure more than one vehicle with them.

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To self insure means to set money aside specifically to cover possible damages to your car instead of purchasing an insurance policy. If you have a sizable amount of money saved and your vehicle isn’t too high-value, dropping comprehensive insurance may not be a bad idea.

How Much Does Comprehensive Insurance Cost?

MoneyGeek compared policies to determine the amount you need to add to have comprehensive and collision insurance with a $1,000 deductible included in your policy. On average, you’ll pay $33 more per month or a little under $400 per year. It’s a cost-effective way to get more protection, considering the coverage comprehensive insurance provides.

Comparing the Cost of Liability-Only and Full Coverage Insurance

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50/100/50 Liability-only

Monthly Cost

$70
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50/100/50 w/ Comprehensive and Collision

Monthly Cost

$103
Premiums for policies with collision coverage are on average:$33 more

This is 47% more expensive.

Keep in mind that these are sample premiums, and other factors may affect your annual rate.

For example, your car’s make and model may affect your premium significantly. The more expensive your car is, the more it’ll cost to insure. Another factor to consider is the amount of your deductible. A higher deductible usually means a lower premium since you pay more out of pocket before your carrier provides coverage. The inverse is also true — a lower deductible means a higher rate.

Be sure to also keep your deductible in mind when deciding whether you should continue getting comprehensive insurance or not. For instance, if your policy costs $1,500 and you have a $1,000 deductible, you’ll have to make sure your car’s value is at least $2,500 to break even.

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IS YOUR COMPREHENSIVE CAR INSURANCE EXPENSIVE?

Nearly One-Third of Vehicles Aren’t Covered By Comprehensive Insurance

MoneyGeek utilized data from the Auto Insurance Database Average Premium Supplement published by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and uninsured driver rates published by the Insurance Research Council to determine how many people in the U.S. did and didn't have comprehensive coverage, including drivers who were entirely uninsured.

Our analysis found that:

  • Just 70% of vehicles are covered by comprehensive coverage.
  • Among people who carry some form of insurance, only 80% have comprehensive coverage.
  • That means 100 million vehicles aren’t covered by comprehensive auto coverage, leaving them susceptible to financial losses from theft, flood, fire, vermin infestation and other hazards unrelated to driving accidents.
  • Because of their large populations and lower rates of comprehensive coverage, Texas and California each have over 10 million vehicles uninsured with comprehensive coverage.
  • New Mexico and Mississippi have the lowest rates of comprehensive insurance, with 48% of vehicles lacking this crucial coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating the ins and outs of comprehensive coverage can be difficult. MoneyGeek answered some of the most commonly asked questions about this coverage to make the process easier.

What does comprehensive insurance cover?
Is comprehensive insurance the same as full coverage?
What is the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage?
Should I get comprehensive insurance on my old car?
When should I drop comprehensive insurance?

About Mark Fitzpatrick


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Mark Fitzpatrick has analyzed the property and casualty insurance market for over five years, conducting original research and creating personalized content for every kind of buyer. Currently, he leads P&C insurance content production at MoneyGeek. Fitzpatrick has been quoted in several insurance-related publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Fitzpatrick earned a master’s degree in economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his knowledge of economics and insurance to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.


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