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Comprehensive insurance is part of a full coverage policy and pays for anything that happens to your car other than a collision. You’ll also see it referred to as “other than collision” coverage.

This car insurance coverage is optional unless you have a loan or lease that requires it. It will cover things like weather damage, falling objects, hitting a deer, or vandalism. You'll have to pay a deductible for this coverage before the insurance company covers any damages.

Read on to learn how comprehensive insurance works, what it covers, and who needs to buy comprehensive coverage.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle from events other than a crash, although it does cover a collision with an animal.
  • You’ll have to pay your comprehensive deductible when filing a claim for this coverage.
  • Comprehensive is not required by any state law, but if your car is financed or leased you will need to carry it.

What does comprehensive insurance cover?

Although it’s called comprehensive, this optional coverage doesn’t cover absolutely everything. It’s designed to pay for damage to your car caused by events that are out of your control and not a collision.

Comprehensive will cover things like:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Weather damage like hail
  • Falling objects like a tree branch
  • Hitting an animal
  • Windshield damage from road debris

Collisions with another vehicle are covered either by the other driver’s liability insurance or by your own collision coverage, depending on who is at fault. With a comprehensive claim, who is at fault isn’t a factor.

What doesn’t comprehensive insurance cover?

Comprehensive insurance doesn’t cover you for a collision; as mentioned above, that’s covered either by another driver’s insurance or your collision coverage. Here’s a quick list of what isn’t covered by comprehensive insurance:

  • Collisions with other vehicles or stationary objects
  • Theft of personal property from inside the vehicle
  • Intentional damage

It’s essential to understand the difference between comprehensive and collision insurance. Both cover your vehicle but for different things, which is why they’re most commonly purchased together.

How does comprehensive insurance work?

Comprehensive insurance carries a deductible, which you’ll have to pay out of pocket when you file a claim. If you file a claim for $2,000 in damage and have a $500 deductible, you’ll pay $500, and the insurance company will pay $1,500.

In the event of a total loss, which means the car has enough damage that it would cost more to repair it than it’s worth, the insurance company will pay the actual cash value of the car. That’s calculated as the car's replacement cost minus the amount it has depreciated over the years.

Windshield damage is covered by comprehensive insurance, and in some cases, you won’t have to pay a deductible. Most companies won’t charge a deductible if the glass can be repaired, and even a replacement may be deductible-free. Check your policy and state laws.

Is comprehensive insurance worth it?

If you have a loan or a lease on your car, you’ll have to carry comprehensive insurance, whether or not you feel it’s worthwhile. Your lender has a stake in your car until you pay off the loan and will require you to carry insurance that protects that stake.

If you own your car outright, it’s a personal choice. You might not need to carry comprehensive if you can afford to repair or replace your vehicle out of pocket. However, if it would be a financial burden on you, this coverage is a good way to buy peace of mind. Remember that without this coverage, you will have no financial protection if your car is stolen or destroyed in a storm.