A collision with another car isn’t the only risk you run on the road. To protect your vehicle from some of the other dangers found on and off the road, you may want to consider comprehensive car insurance.
Comprehensive coverage typically kicks in to help you cover the cost of repairing your car after damage from anything other than a collision with another car. You can think of comprehensive car insurance as protection against some of the more unexpected — and uncontrollable — damages that can happen.
What’s covered by comprehensive car insurance?
Damages covered by comprehensive insurance can include:
Damage from animals
Explosions and fire
Vandalism and theft
What isn’t covered by comprehensive car insurance?
You’ll need a different policy type for other kinds of damages, including:
Hit-and-run. Collision or uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is necessary for protection against a hit-and-run.
Rental car. A separate type of coverage is needed for rental car coverage.
Car crash. A car crash is covered by collision insurance, regardless of who’s at fault.
Because comprehensive typically covers your car for anything other than an accident, you’ll need other types of insurance for everything else. For example, third-party liability insurance pays for damages you may have caused to another driver in an accident, and collision car insurance covers your car repair bill.
When you combine liability, comprehensive and collision policies, you get what’s called full-coverage insurance.
Unlike third-party liability insurance, you’re usually not legally required to have comprehensive coverage. One exception to that is Manitoba, where people are required by provincial law to purchase it. However, even if you’re not legally required where you live to have comprehensive coverage, that doesn’t mean you won’t need it, or that you shouldn’t otherwise get it.
When to consider comprehensive coverage
You might want to opt for comprehensive insurance if:
You finance your car. Financed cars may be required to have comprehensive and collision coverage by lenders.
You live in an area with high rates of car theft. Collision and liability coverage won’t do you any good against theft.
Your town has a high incidence of animal collisions. Deer and other especially large animals can cause massive damage to your car, and comprehensive insurance can help cover it.
Your area has the potential for severe storms. Damages from hail storms, flooding or tornadoes are all typically included in comprehensive policies.
When to consider skipping comprehensive coverage
The biggest reason you might want to pass on comprehensive insurance is the value of your car. If your car isn’t worth much, it could cost more to keep up insurance than it would to just put aside money for repairs or replacement.
A good way to tell if your car is worth enough to get comprehensive coverage is to compare the cost of your annual premium and deductible to your car’s value. If the premium and deductible combined are more than your car’s worth, you may be better off without.
Compare free comprehensive car insurance quotes online
How much does comprehensive car insurance cost?
The average cost of full coverage car insurance runs around $264 per month, or $3,168 every year. In car insurance terms, full coverage means all provincially-mandated coverage as well as comprehensive and collision.
Some insurers also offer roadside assistance for free with comprehensive coverage, which is an added plus. The best way to find the cheapest comprehensive policy is to compare quotes from a few companies.
To find the average car insurance rate, we looked at full coverage quotes with the following driver profile:
Single, 35 year old female
Living in the Etiobicoke area in Ontario
Perfect driving record
20,000 kilometres annually
Driving a 2020 Honda Civic DX 4DR
Equipped with winter tires
Does comprehensive car insurance come with a deductible?
Comprehensive coverage comes with a deductible. You’ll choose how much you want your deductible to be when you’re buying insurance.
To decide what your deductible should be, weigh how much car repairs could cost against how much you’re willing to pay out of your own pocket. The higher you set your deductible, the lower your insurance premiums will be.
Case study: Comprehensive coverage in action
You always park your car on the street after coming home from work. One night, a tree falls on your car, smashing the hood of your car. You’re now stuck with a repair bill of $5,000.
Luckily, you have comprehensive coverage. After you pay your $500 deductible, your insurance covers the additional $4,500 for your car repair.
Comprehensive vs third party liability
Liability insurance encompasses two parts: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. If you’re at fault in an accident, you’re liable for the cost of damages to someone else’s property, as well as the cost of medical care the other driver might incur. Liability does not cover any of your own personal expenses.
While liability covers the cost of injury to other drivers and their property, comprehensive ensures that you’re covered for the expense of replacing or repairing your own vehicle and damages that aren’t within your control an aren’t related to a car accident. Some situations that are covered under comprehensive include natural disasters, fire and theft.
Covers you in the event of vandalism or theft
Covers you for the costs of damages that aren’t within your control
Provides the above coverage regardless of who is at fault
Does not cover damage to your car from a collision
You’ll have to pay a deductible
Covers damage to someone else’s property
Covers the cost of injury you cause to another person, including medical care, legal help and funeral costs
Mat not come with a deductible
Does not cover any damage to your own car
Does not cover any of your medical expenses
Provides only the minimum amount of coverage
Comprehensive coverage offers protection against non-collision auto damage. It can offer peace of mind knowing you’re covered when the unexpected happens. To find the best price, compare different insurers.
Frequently asked questions about comprehensive coverage
Typically damage from animals would include a wild animal damaging your car — like hitting a deer, squirrels chewing through wires or a bird flying into your windshield.
You can typically purchase up to the actual cash value of your car. That means if your car is a total loss, you’ll only pay your deductible to replace it.
The best way is to check with your provincial or territorial ministry of transportation. Most likely, you’ll be required to carry third-party liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage. You may also be required to buy personal injury protection or medical payments coverage.
If you’re leasing your car, you’ll also want to check with your lender. Most lenders require comprehensive and collision insurance.
Roslyn McKenna is an insurance publisher for Finder, where she's driven to help people get a great deal on insurance to protect their families and finances. Roslyn earned a BA in writing and communications from Maryville College and has written professionally for more than a decade, showing up on Bankrate, MSN and Reader's Digest.
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