At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. To help readers understand how insurance affects their finances, we have licensed insurance professionals on staff who have spent a combined 47 years in the auto, home and life insurance industries. While we adhere to strict editorial integrity, this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation of how we make money. Our content is backed by Coverage.com, LLC, a licensed entity (NPN: 19966249). For more information, please see our Insurance Disclosure.
Comprehensive car insurance is coverage that financially protects you if your vehicle is damaged from instances that may occur from events other than a collision. Comprehensive may cover damage to your car caused by hail, animals, glass breakage and theft, among others. This coverage may be an important part of your car insurance policy, and in some cases, it may be required. It’s important to understand what this coverage is, when to consider filing a comprehensive car insurance claim and the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage.
Reasons to consider comprehensive coverage
If you have a vehicle you cannot afford to repair or replace out of pocket if it’s damaged, or if you would like to keep your car loan lender happy, you may consider purchasing comprehensive and collision car insurance coverage. If your vehicle is financed or leased, you will almost certainly need full coverage car insurance.
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, “other than a collision” generally means your car damage was caused by events like hail, animals, glass breakage and theft. Still, there may be times when filing a comprehensive car insurance claim may not be necessary. Understanding what comprehensive 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 coverage.
Examples of typical vehicle damage covered by comprehensive includes:
- Hail damage and other weather-related events
- Damage from hitting an animal
- Vandalism and riots
- Glass breakage (windshield and windows)
- 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 car insurance 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. 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.
- Contact a customer service representative or your local agent through the mobile app, online or a phone call and inform them of the situation.
- Submit any documentation, such as pictures, videos or papers related to your claim.
- Your insurance provider may ask you to get estimates from local repair shops.
- Each state has various laws regarding the amount of time you can submit a claim, including for damage only, 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. The cost averages $172 per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), which may be worth it to you for the extra financial protection it provides.