Comprehensive Car Insurance: Do You Need It?

Comprehensive coverage — typically part of a full-coverage policy — protects you financially when your car needs repairs after noncollision events.

Cassie Sheets
Written byCassie Sheets
Cassie Sheets
Cassie SheetsContent Writer
  • 9 years writing data-driven, SEO content

  • Lifestyle contributor to 30+ local news sites

Cassie Sheets has a background in home and garden and real estate content. At Insurify, she translates industry jargon into insights that empower insurance buyers.

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Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
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  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

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Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark Friedlander
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
  • Corporate communications director for Insurance Information Institute

  • 20+ years in insurance and communications

As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

Konstantin Halachev
Data reviewed byKonstantin Halachev
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Konstantin HalachevVice President of Engineering
  • 7+ years experience in data analysis

  • Ph.D. in Computational Biology

Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

Updated August 10, 2023 at 12:00 PM PDT

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When you picture a situation where you need to use your car insurance, a fender bender may be the first thing that comes to mind. But that’s not the only reason your car might need repairs. From hailstorms to rodents nesting in your car engine, vehicles can sustain damage outside of collisions in plenty of ways.

In these circumstances, you’d turn to your comprehensive car insurance policy for coverage. Here’s what you need to know about comprehensive coverage so you can decide whether you need it.

Quick Facts
  • Comprehensive coverage is typically an affordable addition to your insurance policy. The average annual premium with a $1,000 deductible is $192.

  • Every state in the U.S. (barring New Hampshire) requires drivers to carry liability insurance, but comprehensive coverage is optional. However, if you lease or finance your car, your lender might require comprehensive coverage.

  • Among drivers with liability insurance, about 80% also purchased comprehensive coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

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What comprehensive insurance covers

Comprehensive insurance covers noncollision damage. That might sound simple, but as with so many coverage types, including collision and mechanical breakdown insurance, it can be confusing to determine which claims each coverage in your policy applies to.

Comprehensive car insurance provides coverage for:[1]

  • Stolen vehicles and car parts

  • Vandalism

  • Damage from natural disasters, like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods

  • Fire damage

  • Hail, wind, and storm damage

  • Damage from hitting an animal

  • Windshield or glass damage from rocks or other objects

  • Damage from vehicle break-ins

  • Damage from falling objects, such as tree branches

Learn More: When is a Car Considered Totaled?

Learn More: When is a Car Considered Totaled?

What comprehensive insurance doesn’t cover

Some types of damage require a different coverage type in your auto insurance policy. Comprehensive car insurance won’t cover the following:

  • Accidents that involve another vehicle or object

  • Swerving to avoid an animal and hitting an object instead

  • Damage from potholes

  • System breakdowns, including your engine, transmission, and air conditioning

  • Normal wear and tear to your vehicle’s belts, brakes, windshield wipers, or tires

  • Medical expenses, pain and suffering, or funeral bills in the case of a fatal accident

Do you need comprehensive car insurance?

Every state in the U.S., barring New Hampshire, legally requires drivers to purchase liability insurance. However, comprehensive coverage is usually optional.[2] The exception is if you’re financing or leasing your vehicle, as lenders often require comprehensive coverage.[3]

Though you can legally drive without comprehensive coverage, nearly four out of five drivers purchase additional comprehensive or collision coverages, according to the Insurance Information Institute.[2]

Good to Know

Adding this optional coverage usually makes financial sense, but if your vehicle is already near the end of its lifespan, it might be worth less than your annual premium. You could skip comprehensive coverage if you don’t need reimbursement for your vehicle in the event of a total loss.

Learn More: What to Do If You Can’t Pay Your Deductible

Learn More: What to Do If You Can’t Pay Your Deductible

Comprehensive coverage vs. other coverages

When filing an insurance claim, the last thing you need is the added worry of wondering whether your policy will cover your costs. Knowing the differences between insurance types can help you make the best coverage decisions and eliminate the fear of unexpected expenses.

Comprehensive coverage vs. collision coverage

Comprehensive and collision coverage both help pay for repairs after a covered loss. The difference is that collision coverage pays for vehicle repairs or replacement if you’re in an accident with another driver or you hit objects like fences, poles, or guardrails. Collision coverage also pays for damage from potholes. On the other hand, comprehensive coverage pays for damage unrelated to a crash.

Comprehensive coverage vs. full coverage

Most drivers want protection from expensive repairs, no matter the cause. Full-coverage car insurance is a combination of coverages that provides significantly more protection than a liability-only policy. You should always check your policy for details, but a full-coverage auto policy typically includes comprehensive, collision, personal liability, and medical payments coverages.

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How much comprehensive coverage costs

Insurance companies look at multiple risk factors when determining your premium, including your driving record, location, gender, credit, age, and car model. Anti-theft and safety features can also reduce your costs.[4] While insurers determine premiums on personal factors, you can generally expect comprehensive coverage to be an affordable addition to your budget.

The average cost of comprehensive coverage is $16 per month — or $192 a year — for policyholders with a $1,000 deductible, according to Insurify data. But you can increase your deductible if you want to lower your monthly expenses. Policyholders with a $2,000 deductible pay an average of $6 per month — $72 a year — for comprehensive coverage.

Keep in Mind

The average cost of full-coverage car insurance in the U.S. is $253 a month. Full-coverage car insurance includes comprehensive coverage, but you should compare quotes to get the best rates for your situation.

Ultimately, you need to weigh your ability to pay for damages out of pocket against your monthly expenses. While a less expensive premium might sound more appealing, you need to pay your full deductible up front before your insurance company covers the rest. A policy with a lower deductible is a better fit if you don’t want the risk of significant unexpected expenses.

Comprehensive car insurance FAQs

Insurance jargon can lead to a lot of confusion about which situations specific policies cover. Insurify breaks down some of the most common questions about comprehensive coverage below so you can choose the best policy for you.

  • What does ‘comprehensive’ mean in car insurance?

    Calling insurance coverage “comprehensive” can make it sound like the policy covers everything. However, that’s not the case. Comprehensive auto insurance helps pay for noncollision damage to your car. For example, comprehensive coverage pays for damages from theft, vandalism, weather, falling objects, and animals. In some places, it’s called “other than collision” or OTC coverage.

  • Is comprehensive coverage better than collision?

    Comprehensive and collision coverage serve two different purposes, so one isn’t better than the other. Collision coverage helps pay for accidents involving another vehicle or stationary objects, like a guardrail. But if you hit a deer, comprehensive insurance covers those damages. Comprehensive coverage also helps pay for rodents chewing through wires and animals running into your car.

  • What is a comprehensive deductible for car insurance?

    A comprehensive car insurance deductible is the amount you agree to pay out of pocket for repairs or replacements before your policy pays the rest. For example, if you have a $400 deductible and a rock breaks your windshield, causing $500 in damages, you’d first pay for $400 of the damages. Then, your insurance company would cover the remaining $100.

    Lower deductibles can save you money on repair costs, but your comprehensive coverage premium will cost more. A high deductible can save you money on your car insurance, but you could be saddled with an expensive bill if your vehicle sustains damages.

  • Does comprehensive car insurance include collision?

    No. Comprehensive and collision are two separate coverages. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage unrelated to a car accident, including weather damage, animal-only collisions, falling objects, fire damage, and total loss from car theft. You should file a claim under collision coverage if you’re involved in a car accident with another vehicle or object.

Sources

Cassie Sheets
Cassie SheetsContent Writer

Cassie Sheets has more than nine years of experience creating compelling content for clients, brands, and local news sites. She started her career at Movoto Real Estate, where she transformed dry data into interesting insights for potential homebuyers. She’s since covered a wide range of topics, from pop culture news to home and garden trends.

Before joining Insurify, Cassie wrote engaging landing pages and blog posts for medical practices at MyAdvice. Now, she uses her knack for diving into the latest data and pulling out key details to empower insurance buyers.

Cassie holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. In her free time, you can find her exploring the city with her dog, trying not to fall over in yoga classes, and petting cats at the shelter.

Courtney Mikulski
Edited byCourtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

Featured in

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Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
  • Corporate communications director for Insurance Information Institute

  • 20+ years in insurance and communications

As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

Konstantin Halachev
Data reviewed byKonstantin HalachevVice President of Engineering
Headshot of Konstantin Halachev, VP of Engineering at Insurify
Konstantin HalachevVice President of Engineering
  • 7+ years experience in data analysis

  • Ph.D. in Computational Biology

Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

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