Comprehensive Insurance: What Is It and Who Needs It?

Comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your vehicle caused by something other than a collision such as natural disasters, theft, and vandalism.
Written by Jessica Barrett
Edited by Kathleen Flear
Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle caused by a range of non-collision perils, from auto theft and vandalism to fire, falling tree branches, hailstorms, and more.

What is comprehensive insurance?

Comprehensive insurance protects drivers from steep out-of-pocket costs associated with bad luck or “acts of God.” It will pay for damage to your vehicle caused by:
  • Contact with animals
  • Natural disasters (such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes,
    , and volcanic eruptions)
  • Fire
  • Vandalism
  • Vehicle theft
    (including parts of the car, such as the catalytic converter)
  • Falling objects (such as tree limbs, ice, or projectiles)
  • A civil disturbance (such as a riot)
  • A broken windshield or other glass damage
When you
file a comprehensive claim
, your insurance company will cover the cost of repairs up to your policy’s limit—typically the
actual cash value of your car
Comprehensive coverage usually goes hand in hand with
collision insurance
, which covers damage to your vehicle caused by most types of collisions. A standard
full-coverage car insurance policy
typically includes the following types of coverage: 
Comprehensive coverage: Covers non-collision damage to your vehicle caused by incidents such as theft or natural disasters.
Collision coverage
: Pays for your car repairs when you get into an accident with another vehicle, hit a stationary object, and more—even if you were at fault.
Liability coverage
: Covers other vehicles and drivers in an accident where you’re at fault.
While collision is optional auto insurance coverage, it's a standard requirement from lenders if you have a
car loan
. Unless you own
an older car
worth less than about $4,000, the benefits typically outweigh the low cost of coverage. 

What it won’t cover: 

Of course, there are some specific damages that your comprehensive car insurance WILL NOT cover. These include: 
  • Damage to your car from a collision (unless it’s with an animal)
  • Medical expenses
  • Legal fees associated with a car accident
  • Lost income for you or your passengers (for example, if you miss work after an accident)
  • Property damage to another person’s car
    or property from a collision
  • Normal wear and tear

How much does comprehensive insurance cost?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of comprehensive auto coverage is a little less than $11 a month.1
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For the best protection, look for quotes that include both comprehensive and collision insurance, along with at least double the liability insurance required by your state. Compare quotes of all coverage levels with
to ensure you're always protected at the best price.
If you want comprehensive insurance but need to seriously cut costs, consider only buying comprehensive without collision and dropping your liability limits to the minimum required in your state. 

What about my deductible?

All comprehensive insurance comes with a deductible that you must pay out of pocket to make a claim. The most common deductible is $500, but you can set that out-of-pocket number higher or lower. 
  • A lower deductible—such as $250—makes claims easier, since you’ll pay less before your insurance kicks in. The trade-off is higher car insurance rates.
  • To lower the cost of your comprehensive coverage, raise your deductible to $1,000 or more. 
Your deductibles for comprehensive and collision do not have to be the same—and it can be hard to stomach a high deductible for damage that isn’t your fault. Experts recommend choosing the lowest deductible with a premium you can afford for your comprehensive insurance.
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Most drivers benefit from comprehensive coverage—would you?

You should consider keeping or getting comprehensive coverage—even if your vehicle is paid off—in the following situations:
  • If you lease a car: You are required to have comprehensive insurance coverage when you lease a vehicle. In fact, it’s even more important to have such coverage with a leased car as you’ll have to pay for any devaluation of the car when you turn it in at the end of your lease period.
  • If you live in a high-crime area: Cities and towns with a high population also tend to have a lot of car theft and vandalism, and chances are if you live in such areas, you can’t keep your car locked in a garage all of the time.
  • If you live in an area prone to natural disasters: In places where hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, or fires are common, comprehensive coverage means that your car will be insured against harm from the listed perils.
  • If your car is worth more than the cost of your insurance premium: If you own a more expensive car, such as a
    sport model vehicle
    , comprehensive coverage can help protect it.
Keep in mind: Living in a high-crime area or owning a luxury car can also make you a
high-risk policyholder
. Some car insurance companies won’t work with high-risk drivers, so it’s always best to
shop around to find a good rate.

Comprehensive coverage is not required by state laws

Unlike liability insurance, which is required in every state except
New Hampshire
, comprehensive auto insurance is considered legally optional coverage in every state. 
For most drivers, though, comprehensive coverage is a no-brainer—either because it’s required by a lender or leasing company, or because it provides crucial protection against steep repair bills.  

Factors that influence your comprehensive insurance rate

The cost of comprehensive insurance is based in part on the value of your vehicle. Some other factors that can affect car insurance costs include:
Where you live: Living in a high-crime area affects the cost of your car insurance, as does where you typically park your vehicle. Cars parked in a secure garage may qualify for a reduced insurance premium with some companies.
Your age: Your age plays a big part in determining how much you pay for insurance each month, including comprehensive insurance.
New drivers
will pay higher overall rates than more experienced drivers.
Your credit score: Every driver is assigned a
credit-based insurance score
. Drivers with poor credit are more likely to file an insurance claim and are considered a higher risk when it comes to insurance. The result is higher insurance premiums.
Your marital status: Married drivers pay a lower insurance premium for car insurance, including comprehensive coverage.
Your driving record: If you have a
clean driving record
, expect to pay less for your car insurance. Drivers with no record of accidents, tickets, or DUIs are considered a better risk and qualify for lower insurance rates.
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Is comprehensive insurance the same as full coverage?

Comprehensive insurance is one component of a full-coverage auto insurance policy. Full coverage insurance typically includes at least liability coverage, collision coverage, and comprehensive insurance

How do comprehensive deductibles work?

All comprehensive car insurance plans come with a deductible that you must pay before your coverage kicks in. The most common comprehensive deductibles are $250, $500, and $1,000. A lower deductible will increase the cost of comprehensive coverage; a higher deductible means lower premiums. Whatever deductible amount you select will be deducted from your overall comprehensive insurance payout.

Is it better to have $500 deductible or $1,000?

A $1,000 deductible decreases the cost of comprehensive coverage compared to a $500 deductible, but it also means you’ll need to pay more out of pocket before your insurance covers repair costs. 
A $500 deductible is better for drivers who prefer to pay a little extra in premiums in exchange for lower out-of-pocket costs in the event of a covered loss, while $1,000 is better for drivers who want to save overall and can afford to pay $1,000 out of pocket for a major claim, such as a total loss. 

Why is comprehensive insurance so expensive?

The cost of comprehensive insurance is based largely on the value of your vehicle, crime rates, weather patterns in your area, and the deductible you choose for your policy. A luxury car, a high-crime ZIP code, or a low deductible could all account for steep comprehensive premiums.

What is the difference between collision and comprehensive insurance?

Comprehensive covers non-collision damage to your car (except for hitting an animal), while collision coverage only deals with car crashes, from multi-car pile-ups to single-car rollovers. Both
comprehensive and collision coverage
are key components of a full coverage insurance policy.

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