If you are financing a car or you want robust financial protection in case of damage or theft, comprehensive insurance is a necessity. But what is comprehensive insurance and what does it mean to file a comprehensive insurance claim?
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Comprehensive coverage is a unique and vital part of making sure you and your car are financially protected. While liability protects you financially if you cause damage to someone else and collision covers your vehicle in the event of an accident, comprehensive insurance covers damages not included in other coverages, including things like theft, weather, and vandalism. In order to use your comprehensive coverage, you must reach out to your car insurance company to file a claim.
Depending on the situation, you may be required to file a police report before your insurance company will process your claim. For example, insurance companies require a police report before they will pay a claim for car theft.
Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your car that was not caused by a collision
If you're financing or leasing your vehicle, the odds are good your lender requires you to carry comprehensive coverage as part of the terms of your loan
Choosing a higher comprehensive deductible will reduce your insurance rates, but you will be responsible for paying more out-of-pocket in the event of a claim
Comprehensive coverage covers theft, vandalism, fire, falling objects, storm and weather damage, animal-related damage, and glass damage
What is comprehensive car insurance?
Comprehensive car insurance coverage, sometimes known as “other than collision” insurance or shortened to “comp coverage,” covers damage to your car that was not caused by a collision. Comprehensive insurance is one part of a larger insurance policy, often included in what many people call full coverage insurance. Specifically, it covers damages that are out of your control, like falling rocks or tree limbs, hail damage, or even hitting a deer.
For people who own their car outright, comprehensive insurance is always an optional coverage (unlike liability insurance which is required by law in almost every state). If you're financing or leasing your vehicle, the odds are good your lender requires you to have comprehensive coverage as part of the terms of your loan. But even if you’re not required to add comprehensive coverage to your policy, it’s still worth considering if you can’t afford to replace your car out-of-pocket.
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How do comprehensive claims work?
A comprehensive auto claim is similar to other insurance claims, except a comprehensive claim is unlikely to involve any other drivers.
If the cost of the claim is less than your deductible, consider paying for the repairs without reporting it to your insurance company. Repairs that cost less than your deductible won’t be paid by your insurance company and they will record the incident in their system, potentially raising your rates in the future.
If your vehicle is stolen or damaged by a covered peril, like a flash flood or a wildfire, there are a few steps you will need to follow to file a comprehensive claim with your insurance company.
You need to contact your insurance company right away to file a claim. Your insurance company may require you to file a police report in some instances, such as the theft of your vehicle, in order to file a claim.
Have basic information on hand to file your claim, including the location, time of day and weather conditions of the incident, pictures of the vehicle damage, the names and badge numbers of any officers that responded to the incident, and a copy of the accident report.
Depending on the nature of your comprehensive claim, you may have to get a quote for repairs before your insurance company can make a payment. However, because a comprehensive claim doesn’t involve an investigation into who is at fault for an accident, they can sometimes move much more quickly than liability and collision claims. Depending on your insurance company, you may even be able to file a claim online or through an app on your phone.
Once the claim is filed, your insurance company will determine how much they owe for the claim and make a payment, minus your deductible.
Comprehensive coverage comes with a deductible, which is the amount you are responsible for paying toward a covered loss. Choosing a higher deductible will reduce your insurance rates, but you will be responsible for paying more out-of-pocket in the event of a claim.
For example, if you choose a $500 deductible and file a claim for $8,000 worth of damage, the insurance company would pay $7,500 and you would be responsible for the difference. If you cannot afford to pay $500 out-of-pocket in the event of a claim you should choose a lower deductible, even if it results in higher insurance premiums.
Comprehensive coverage has a maximum amount they will pay in a claim, usually the actual cash value of your vehicle, meaning that you won’t be paid back more than your insurance company determines your car is worth.
What does comprehensive auto insurance cover?
Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your car not caused by a collision, including:
Vandalism, fire, and riots
Falling objects (rocks, tree limbs, etc.)
Storm damage (hail, wind, floods, lightning, earthquakes, etc.)
Animal-related damage (hitting a deer, rodents chewing through wiring, etc.)
Windshield and glass damage
When it comes to glass damage, insurance companies in some states have coverage options that allow you to avoid a deductible when repairing cracked or broken glass. This is often referred to as full glass coverage.
How much does comprehensive auto insurance cost?
All things considered, comprehensive auto insurance is a relatively affordable portion of your auto insurance. According to a 2021 report from the NAIC, in 2018 the average insurance policy in the United States was $1,189.64, with $167.91 of that total going toward comprehensive coverage.
|State||Average Total Premium||Comprehensive|
|District of Columbia||$1,574.09||$228.71|
Keep in mind that the numbers in the table above are averages, which means your individual rates may be higher or lower based on personal factors such as your driving history, your age, and your ZIP code.
What comprehensive coverage doesn't cover
Comprehensive insurance is limited to very specific types of damage or loss. There are many things that aren’t covered by your comprehensive insurance, including:
Damage to your car from a collision or single car rollover accident - this is covered under your collision insurance
Damage to another person or their property in an accident - this is covered under your liability insurance
Medical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident - this is covered under PIP or MedPay
Should I add comprehensive insurance to my policy?
There’s a lot to consider when deciding whether or not to add comprehensive coverage to your policy.
Are you financing your vehicle?
If you have a loan on your car, the odds are good that your lender will require you to carry comprehensive insurance as part of a full coverage policy.
Can you afford to pay for repairs out-of-pocket?
How much is your car worth? Choosing not to add comprehensive coverage can save you a few dollars a month on your insurance rates, but it may be a necessity if you can’t afford to repair or replace your car on your own. If your car were stolen tomorrow, could you afford to go out and buy a new car? If the answer to that question is no, you may want to seriously consider carrying comprehensive insurance.
How likely are you to have to file a claim?
Do you keep your car parked in a secure garage? Do you cover your car to protect it from hail and other potential dangers? Do you live in an area where deer crossing signs are common? These are all questions to consider carefully before choosing to drop your comprehensive coverage. Keep in mind that no matter how hard you try, you can never be completely protected from danger. Cars can be stolen from garages and mice can get into your car’s wiring even if you store your car indoors, so your risk level can never truly be zero.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between comprehensive and collision?
As explained above, comprehensive insurance covers theft and damages not caused by a collision. Collision insurance covers damages to your vehicle that are caused by an accident, either with another vehicle or a stationary object, no matter who is at fault.
Does my comprehensive claim affect my car insurance?
Any claim you file has the potential to affect your car insurance, but comprehensive claims are less likely to cause a large increase in your insurance rates. Because comprehensive claims are for things that are not your fault (flood damage, theft, etc.) there is less of a concern on the part of the insurance company about what a comprehensive claim says about you as a driver. However, each insurance company has their own rules and standards about what impacts your rates, so check with your insurance representative if you have questions about the specifics of your policy.
Can I find cheap car insurance with a comprehensive claim?
It is possible to find affordable car insurance, even if you’ve filed a claim recently. Check with your insurance representative to compare quotes from multiple companies and make sure you are getting the lowest possible rates.
What is full coverage car insurance?
The term “full coverage” car insurance is a bit of a misnomer, because there is no such thing as an insurance policy that covers you in every situation. When most people talk about full coverage insurance, they are referring to a collection of three types of coverage: liability insurance, comprehensive insurance, and collision insurance. Full coverage may also include PIP, MedPay, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, and other types of insurance if they are required by law in your state.