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Understanding Auto Insurance: What Is Comprehensive Coverage?


 | June 15, 2017

This article is part five in a series on auto insurance coverage. Catch up on part one, part two, part three and part four.

Did a heavy hailstorm shatter your windshield? Did someone steal your car while you were at a concert? Did a tree branch fall on your parked car?

Comprehensive coverage under auto insurance can help pay for repairs associated with life’s unexpected incidents. So should you consider this option coverage?

What Does It Cover?

Comprehensive coverage is often considered all vehicular repairs or replacements that are “other than collision.” Despite its name, it is not comprehensive of all types of auto insurance. Rather, it covers damages to the vehicle that are not caused by a direct collision in the control a driver.

It tends to be for those situations that are out of a motorist’s control—otherwise considered “acts of nature” or “acts of God.” This can include:

  • Natural disasters: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, storms, hailstorms
  • Falling objects
  • Vandalism or theft
  • Fire or explosions
  • Civil commotions
  • Terrorism
  • Damage from direct impact with animals (not if you swerve to avoid an animal that then causes a collision)

It does not include collisions where the motorist had some sort of control over the accident; that would be covered under collision auto insurance. Think of it this way: collision is a human’s fault; comprehensive is nature’s (or luck’s) fault. However, collision and comprehensive are sometimes packaged together by insurance companies into a plan called “physical damage coverage.”

Is It Required?

States do not require comprehensive or collision coverage. However, if you are leasing or financing your car, you will likely need full auto coverage including comprehensive or “physical damage” coverage.

How Much Coverage Do You Need?

If you read our article on collision coverage, you’ll notice that we recommend similar amounts of collision and comprehensive coverage. This is because both are based on the usage of the car and the predicted value of the vehicle.

The Usage

Unlike collision insurance, comprehensive insurance often covers those things that are simply a “stroke of bad luck.” In this way, the more you drive does not necessarily increase your risk of having something happen to your car that would be covered under comprehensive coverage.

However, if you tend to park in areas where there is a lot of theft or vandalism or if you go camping with your car in heavily wooded areas, your risk does increase. Take note of where you use your car to determine how high your risk of “bad luck” would be.

The Value

As your car depreciates over time, your costs for repair and replacement may end up being less than what you would be paying for coverage in premiums and deductibles.

How to find out if you need comprehensive coverage:

How much will your car be worth in five years?

How much would your premium be for collision coverage?

If the value of the premiums for the next five years is greater than the predicted value of the car, it is not worth buying comprehensive insurance. However, this is often not the case. Your car will likely be worth more than the sum of the premiums. In this way, it’s important to do the math or talk to an agent to find the best option to protect yourself from unexpected risks.

Get a quote with InsuraMatch to see how much your premium would be for your comprehensive insurance.

Comprehensive Coverage Bottom Line

Whether you call it Mother Nature, bad luck, or karma—comprehensive coverage is there to help you fight it off. Keep your car protected from life’s unexpected damages with the proper auto insurance coverage packages by working with an agent.

See how a quote with InsuraMatch can find you the best auto insurance package with the best coverage carrier!