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, fault isn’t a factor.

What doesn’t comprehensive car 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 auto insurance work?

Comprehensive insurance has 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.

Auto insurance FAQs

How much does comprehensive coverage cost?

A rate analysis by Insurance.com found that comprehensive insurance costs an average $263 a year or $22 a month.

When can you add comprehensive coverage to your policy?

You can add comprehensive coverage to your policy at any time. The one exception is during a moratorium, which usually happens when a major storm is approaching and insurance companies put a hold on policy changes or new policies.