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What does comprehensive insurance cover on a car?

Daniel Walker
Licensed Insurance Agent for 15 Years

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Comprehensive coverage covers incidents other than collisions
  • This policy coverage usually costs much less than collision coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage provides protection in the event of animal-related damages to your vehicle
  • In addition, this coverage would provide protection in the event of a fire, theft, or vandalism that affects your vehicle
  • Natural disasters — such as tornados or floods — may also be covered by this coverage option

Comprehensive coverage is a policy option that helps provide coverage for a lot of unexpected events that may happen to your car. This coverage option often comes at a cheaper premium cost than collision coverage since collisions may often result in higher amounts of collision claims and higher settlement amounts. If you carry comprehensive coverage on your policy, there are a few things to understand about it.

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Comprehensive Coverage Has a Deductible

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Comprehensive coverage is a part of your auto insurance policy that helps to repair or replace your vehicle in the event of damages that are not related to a collision. However, a deductible may apply in the event of a comprehensive claim. An insurance deductible is the dollar amount that is deducted from your covered loss.

The insurance deductible is designed to help the insurance company keep costs lower, as the policyholder is required to pay the deductible amount before policy limits take effect. Deductibles may vary in their amount, being either a set dollar amount or a percentage of the reported loss. Insurance coverage often costs less when the deductible is higher, as the insurance company is then responsible for a smaller amount of the loss.

In some instances, insurance providers offer deductibles that decline in cost for every year without a claim. This situation is not consistent across every provider, so it’s important that you check what benefits an insurance company offers before purchasing your coverage. If your provider offers this, make sure you understand the terms of this benefit, and what may happen if you file a claim.

Comprehensive Coverage Is Also Called Other-Than-Collision Coverage

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Comprehensive coverage is a policy coverage that protects you in the event of an incident that is not considered a collision; incidents that are your vehicle colliding with another object.

This coverage often costs less because of this, because there are fewer parties involved in a loss and these losses may be simpler to settle or have a lower cost when settled. This allows your insurance company to provide this coverage at a lower cost than collision coverage.

For example, comprehensive coverage provides protection to your vehicle in some different scenarios, including animal-related damages, fire, fallen tree branches, and other situations. Also, if your vehicle is stolen, or just parts of your vehicle are stolen, then comprehensive coverage would be the policy coverage that would apply.

Comprehensive Coverage May Have Exceptions

Your comprehensive coverage may help in some situations, but there are some that may be an exception. For example, potholes are road damage that may result in damage to your vehicle.

While many do not consider this a collision, your comprehensive coverage does not provide protection in this situation. Your insurance provider, if they offer coverage, is likely to offer this coverage under your collision coverage option.

Comprehensive coverage does not normally provide protection for your personal belongings. For example, if your laptop computer is stolen out of your backseat after your window is smashed in, then your auto policy may provide protection for the window. However, your personal belongings would be covered under your homeowner’s or renter’s policy, not your auto policy or your comprehensive coverage.

In addition, your comprehensive coverage may not protect your windshield. Although the windshield glass is often damaged in ways that are unrelated to an accident, your general comprehensive coverage may exclude windshield damage.

There are some insurance providers that require a separate glass coverage option, which is a subset of your comprehensive coverage. When you are looking for coverage, make sure to speak to any potential providers about what the coverage option protects against and what it excludes.

Should you purchase comprehensive coverage?

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Comprehensive coverage is an important coverage option for many people. There are some different scenarios that may occur in which your other coverage options will not apply. When looking at your auto insurance options, make sure to consider the benefits of having comprehensive coverage on your vehicle.

If you have questions about the situations where your policy coverage would or would not apply, make sure to speak to your insurance provider. Also, take your vehicle’s garaged location into consideration. If you live in an area with a high population of wild animals, or an area known for theft, vandalism, or riots, then comprehensive coverage may be a great option for your needs.

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