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Comprehensive coverage

This pays for car damage caused by anything other than a collision with a car.

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. Comprehensive car insurance isn’t legally required, but acts as protection against some of the more unexpected — and uncontrollable — damages that can happen.

What is comprehensive coverage?

Comprehensive car insurance protects your car for almost anything other than a collision with another car. Damage that’s covered by comprehensive insurance can include:

  • Civil disobedience
  • Hitting an animal
  • An animal chewing on or damaging your car
  • Explosions and fire
  • Falling objects, like a tree hitting your car
  • Windshield damage
  • Storm damage like hail or flooding
  • Rental car damage, if your policy extends coverage to rentals
  • Acts of terrorism
  • Theft or vandalism

How comprehensive coverage works

Let’s say you park your car on the street after coming home from work. One night, a tree falls on your car, smashing the hood and leaving you with a $5,000 repair bill.

After you pay your $500 deductible for your comprehensive coverage, your insurance covers the additional $4,500 for your car repair.

Does it 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.

Do I need comprehensive car insurance?

Unlike liability insurance, you’re not legally required to have comprehensive coverage — regardless of the state you live in. But that doesn’t mean you won’t need it, or that you shouldn’t otherwise get it. You might want to opt for comprehensive insurance if:

  • You finance your car. Lenders typically require financed cars to have collision coverage.
  • 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 put aside money for repairs or another car.

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.

However, consider whether you have the cash reserves for another car or a backup car to get around if your lower-value car gets stolen or totaled for a covered reason.

Is comprehensive insurance considered full coverage?

A car insurance policy with just comprehensive coverage isn’t considered full coverage. However, when you combine all state-mandated coverage like liability as well as comprehensive and collision, you get what’s called full coverage insurance.

Cheapest companies with comprehensive coverage

At $167 per month, Travelers comes in as the cheapest car insurance company for policies with comprehensive coverage, catering to a broad range of drivers. Progressive brings the second cheapest comprehensive policy at $171 per month.

However, the cheapest overall is USAA at $165 per month, but you’ll have to qualify as a member of the military first.

CompanyAnnual premiumMonthly rate
State Farm2,869$239
Liberty Mutual$3,213$268

How we got the cheapest rates

To find the cheapest comprehensive car insurance, we looked at quotes with liability, comprehensive and collision coverage from a variety of ZIP California codes. Our driver profile looked like this:

  • Single
  • No recent claims
  • Experienced driver
  • 10,000 miles annually

We also compared coverage both for sedans and SUVs to get a well-rounded look at premiums for these popular vehicles.

What isn’t covered by comprehensive car insurance?

You’ll need other types of car insurance coverage to pay for this damage, including:

  • Collisions. Collision car insurance covers your own car’s repair bill if you cause a wreck that damages your car.
  • Hit-and-run. Collision or uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is necessary for protection against a hit-and-run.
  • Injuries. Your comprehensive coverage doesn’t foot the medical bills for you, your passengers or anyone else involved in the accident.
  • Liability. Liability insurance pays for car or property damage or injuries that you may have caused to another driver in an accident.
  • Rental car. A separate type of coverage is needed for rental car reimbursement.

Bottom line

Comprehensive coverage offers protection against noncollision auto damage. It can offer peace of mind knowing you’re covered when the unexpected happens. To find the best price, compare car insurance companies.

Common questions about comprehensive coverage

What kind of animal-related damage is covered?

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.

How much should my comprehensive insurance pay to replace my car?

You 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, and you car insurance will pay the going market value for your car after factoring in its depreciation.

If your policy states replacement cost value, that means you should get paid a settlement that doesn’t factor in depreciation. This helps you pay in full for another car with a similar make, model, year and condition.

How do I know if an insurance coverage type is mandatory?

The best way is to check with your state’s DMV. Most likely, your state requires all drivers to carry liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage.

The exceptions are New Hampshire and Virginia, which have different rules. Your state may also require you 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.


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Roslyn McKenna Ayers is insurance manager at ValuePenguin and a former publisher at Finder, specializing in home and auto coverage. Her expertise and analysis has been featured on Bankrate, MSN and Reader's Digest. She holds a BA in writing and communications from Maryville College. See full bio

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