All About Comprehensive Coverage Car Insurance

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Comprehensive coverage car insurance covers damage caused by weather, among other things. (Photo: @mylove4art via Twenty20)
In addition to the required liability insurance, car insurance companies offer a variety of other coverage options, including collision and comprehensive coverage.
Collision coverage pays you back for damage sustained from a collision with another car or object. But for other types of property damage sustained while not driving your vehicle, you need comprehensive coverage. Most insurance companies allow you to purchase comprehensive coverage on your insurance without having to also purchase collision coverage.

How Comprehensive Coverage Car Insurance Works

Comprehensive coverage car insurance helps pay for repairs or replaces your car when it is damaged in a non-collision accident or is stolen. Damage types that fall under comprehensive coverage include those caused by weather or other acts of nature and vandalism.
In extreme cases, such as car theft, comprehensive coverage usually pays you the depreciated value of your car. Some other damage types that fall under comprehensive coverage include glass damage from road debris, such as a broken windshield, and any damage done to your car when you hit an animal.
Comprehensive coverage car insurance carries a deductible, which represents the amount you need to pay for any damage before the insurance company starts to pay for repairs. Before receiving payment on a claim, the following process takes place:
  • The insurance adjuster investigates your claim, collecting all pertinent information about the accident and inspecting the vehicle to determine the extent of the damage.
  • The insurance adjuster then determines whether to declare the car a total loss or have it repaired.
  • The insurance company then authorizes the needed repairs to the vehicle. In the case of a total loss, the insurance company determines the depreciated value of the car. This represents the amount you can expect to receive for the car.
  • If you disagree with the insurance company’s conclusion about the adjuster’s findings, you would appeal the decision at this point. You might even consider having an independent appraisal performed. In all disputes, you should retain the appropriate legal counsel to protect your interests.
You can choose to use your own repair shop, but opting to use a repair shop recommended by the insurance company pretty much guarantees a faster repair process. It also allows for a quicker resolution if the repair shop finds other problems in the course of performing the original repairs. Plus, the insurance company pays the repair shop directly, so you don’t need to worry about dealing with payment.

What Comprehensive Coverage Does Not Cover

While comprehensive coverage covers a wide variety of damage types to your car, it does not cover any sort of damage caused by a vehicle-on-vehicle collision, including:
  • Damage to your car from a collision with another car
  • Damage to another person’s car that you caused while driving
Medical expenses resulting from an accident represent another area that comprehensive car insurance does not cover. Bodily injury liability, MedPay, or personal injury protection coverage cover any injuries or death suffered in an accident.

Do You Need Comprehensive Coverage?

While you do not need to carry comprehensive coverage if you own your car, lenders require you to carry it when buying or leasing. In addition, even if you own your car, you should consider opting for comprehensive coverage if you:
  • Live in an area prone to car theft or vandalism
  • Live in a rural area with lots of animals
  • Live in an area predisposed to natural disasters and inclement weather patterns
Determining the value of your car represents one of the best ways to decide if you should purchase comprehensive coverage for a car you own. You should base your decision on whether you could easily pay for repairs or to replace your car out of pocket. If not, you should consider getting comprehensive coverage. Determine the value of your car by visiting one of the following sites: Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and Autotrader.com.
The cost for comprehensive coverage varies by state. For the most part, you can expect to pay $134 per year on average for comprehensive coverage in the U.S.

What Is Depreciation?

Depreciation represents the reduction in the value of your car from when you first bought it until the present time. It depends on the make, model, and year of your car. When buying a new car, expect it to lose about 60% of its value in the first five years, with 20% of that loss coming in the first year alone.
When settling a total loss claim, an insurance company bases the amount paid to you on the depreciated value of the car, not on what you paid for it.
Opting for comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy can pay off whether you own your car or still owe on it. If you live in a high-risk area for bad weather, car theft, or vandalism, it’s worth getting comprehensive coverage to protect your investment.