What is Comprehensive Car Insurance?

Alexandre Desoutter Alexandre Desoutter  updated on June 4, 2020

What is comprehensive insurance? When searching for car insurance, the number of options available can be intimidating and overwhelming. Add the fact that some coverages are mandatory while others are not, and it’s easy to fall into analysis paralysis. If you’re wondering “what exactly is comprehensive car insurance?”

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. 

This article will explain the comprehensive insurance definition, help you understand what comprehensive insurance is vs collision and help decide if it’s right for your situation.

Keep reading.

What is comprehensive car insurance?

So, what is comprehensive coverage? Comprehensive coverage is sometimes known as “other than collision” (OTC) and covers non-collision related claims. It is coverage which will help with the replacement or repair of your vehicle if it is damaged in a non-collision accident or if it’s stolen. It also covers damage from fire, vandalism and even from falling objects such as hail or tree branches. It’s coverage that you might be grateful to have if your car is damaged outside of a collision and for this reason, it is often purchased along with collision insurance.

So, what does comprehensive car insurance cover exactly?

Comprehensive insurance covers qualified damage to your vehicle not caused by a collision with another vehicle. So, if your car gets vandalized, stolen, damaged in bad weather, or attacked by an angry squirrel, comprehensive insurance will likely have you covered. You would need to pay your deductible for comprehensive coverage but since non-collision incidents are not the result of driver error, rates are typically not raised after a comprehensive auto insurance claim.

This table shows exactly what is covered by comprehensive car insurance:

Damage TypeCoverage Provided
Car damage from falling objects such as a tree branchYes
Car damage due to an explosion or a fire Yes
Car damage from acts of nature such as storms, floods, lightning, hail, thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakesYes
Car theftYes
Car damage due to vandalism or even a riotYes
Car damage due to debris kicked up by other cars e.g. rocksYes
Car damage due to hitting an animal such as a deer*Yes
*Hitting another car or a tree while trying to avoid hitting said deer is not coveredNo
Comprehensive car cover

From our table above you can see that hitting another car or object is not covered by comprehensive insurance. For this type of accident, you would need collision insurance. See our article on full coverage insurance to learn more about the difference between comprehensive and collision insurance.

H2.. What isn’t covered by comprehensive insurance?

Comprehensive coverage can protect you against the cost of damages from a variety of incidents–provided those incidents do not include a collision. Certain incidents are not covered by comprehensive insurance; the table below breaks these down for you:

Situations Covered by Comprehensive Insurance?
FreezingNo
Wear and tear No
Damages caused to a vehicle in case of rear ending someoneNo
Damages caused to my vehicle in case of rear ending someone No
Damages caused to my vehicle by running into somethingNo
Rental car when yours is being repairedNo
Personal injuries to selfNo
Personal injuries to third party No
Damage caused to third party vehiclesNo
Mechanical breakdownNo
Comprehensive Coverage

What adds-on could I add to my comprehensive car insurance? 

Despite the fact that “comprehensive” is in its name, comprehensive insurance coverage does not cover every possible scenario. Some add-on coverages such as legal cover, will be included in the standard comprehensive auto insurance coverage offered by some insurance companies while other companies may charge you for such add-ons. This may leave you wondering, “what does comprehensive mean?” 

Be sure to read the fine print and check policy details before committing to a policy—make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting for your money. Use our comparison tool now to compare car insurance coverages and prices across insurers

Generally, the most common add-ons not covered under comprehensive car insurance are:

  • Rental car – If you need to rent another vehicle while your car is being repaired, this may not be included in your comprehensive coverage. It’s quite common to have to pay for this separately.
  • Breakdown cover – If you happen to be stranded on the side of the road because your car broke down, you might think that your insurance company will help you cover the costs of being rescued. However, this is usually not the case. This type of cover is usually optional and comes at an extra cost so be sure to ask about roadside assistance specifically before you buy your policy. 
  • Tires (and tubes) – These parts are prone to wear and tear for example, being punctured by sharp objects on the road or even driving on bad roads. This wear and tear however, is not covered by your comprehensive insurance coverage. 
  • Other components – There are quite a few components of a car that can stop functioning or even break-off for example, side mirrors. This refers specifically to damage from natural wear and tear over the life of the car. This type of wear and tear is also not covered by comprehensive insurance. 
  • Unlicensed driver – If your car is driven by and damaged by an uninsured driver, your comprehensive coverage will not cover these costs. Even an event which would normally be covered by your policy would not be covered if the person driving the car at the time was unlicensed. The policyholder does not need to be the one driving, but the driver needs to be insured.

Can I purchase just comprehensive insurance ?

Very often, you won’t be able to buy comprehensive insurance without collision coverage.

Some auto lenders or insurance companies will require both types of coverage or one in order to buy the other. Since collision claims are much more common and as such, collision premiums tend to be higher. 

Some auto lenders or insurance companies will require both types of coverage or one in order to buy the other. It’s worth noting that collision claims are much more common and as such, collision premiums tend to be higher. Be sure to factor these requirements into the overall cost of your policy.

 How much is comprehensive car insurance? 

The cost of comprehensive insurance coverage will vary from insurance provider to provider. 

According to data compiled by the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of comprehensive insurance in the U.S. is approximately $190 per year.

Often, you won’t be able to buy comprehensive insurance without collision coverage. So, the cost of comprehensive coverage will vary from person to person but you still might be wondering how much is comprehensive car insurance? The table below summarizes the average cost of comprehensive insurance across the top 10 insurance companies:

CompanyAvg. Comprehensive Insurance Cost 
National average$190
logo usaa$99
geico png$115
logo state farm$137
travelers logo$149
progressive logo$153
american family logo$157
farmers insurance 1$157
nationwide logo$162
allstates logo 1$237
comprehensive car insurance

Because the exact cost of comprehensive coverage will differ from person to person depending on the situation, you should use our comparison tool to get your personalized quote.

What is the cost for comprehensive and collision coverage by states ? 

Below are the averages for comprehensive and collision insurance across states, for a driver 

aged 30-35 with good driving record and good credit rating:

ComprehensiveCollisionTotal
National average$190 $524 $714 
Alaska$137 $627 $764 
Alabama$153 $561 $714 
Arkansas$240 $571 $811 
Arizona$157 $485 $642 
California$149 $995 $1,144 
Colorado$237 $509 $746 
Connecticut$115 $684 $799 
District of Columbia$162 $645 $807 
Delaware$99 $522 $621 
Florida$157 $487 $644 
Georgia$156 $541 $697 
Hawaii$96 $557 $653 
Iowa$244 $389 $633 
Idaho$129 $428 $557 
Illinois$114 $477 $591 
Indiana$144 $511 $655 
Kansas$421 $466 $887 
Kentucky$284 $571 $855 
Louisiana$249 $668 $917 
Massachusetts$162 $553 $715 
Maryland$133 $578 $711 
Maine$78 $406 $484 
Michigan$241 $919 $1,160 
Minnesota$229 $389 $618 
Missouri$296 $471 $767 
Mississippi$219 $490 $709 
Montana$329 $538 $867 
North Carolina$114 $414 $528 
North Dakota$331 $429 $760 
Nebraska$341 $406 $747 
New Hampshire$86 $476 $562 
New Jersey$100 $448 $548 
New Mexico$201 $454 $655 
Nevada$150 $594 $744 
New York$143 $698 $841 
Ohio$104 $401 $505 
Oklahoma$370 $539 $909 
Oregon$98 $441 $539 
Pennsylvania$144 $616 $760 
Rhode Island$118 $726 $844 
South Carolina$308 $607 $915 
South Dakota$459 $415 $874 
Tennessee$140 $503 $643 
Texas$226 $527 $753 
Utah$104 $415 $519 
Virginia$98 $379 $477 
Vermont$136 $464 $600 
Washington$85 $381 $466 
Wisconsin$210 $459 $669 
West Virginia$173 $461 $634 
Wyoming$344 $651 $995 
Comprehensive and collision car insurance

What deductible should I choose when taking comprehensive car insurance?

Choosing the right deductible for your comprehensive car insurance is tricky. A higher deductible usually means that your monthly premium cost will be lower, while the inverse is also true. However, it’s important not to choose a deductible that you won’t actually be able to pay in the event of an accident. Remember, you have to pay your entire deductible out of pocket before insurance will cover the remainder of the cost of damages.

Comprehensive insurance costs will differ across states and different insurance companies will also offer different rates for comprehensive auto insurance. 

You can usually choose the deductible amount you’d like for your comprehensive coverage. Generally: 

  • Standard deductible ranges are from $250 to $1000
  • The most common deductible for comprehensive insurance among drivers is $500 

Take a look at the data below from Progressive Insurance regarding full coverage costs and estimates for their customers.

% of Drivers with Comprehensive CoverageAverage Comprehensive Cost per MonthMost Common Comprehensive Deductible
73%22$500$
Average Comprehensive Car Insurance Cost

You can expect that your deductible and the cost of your premium for comprehensive insurance will have an inverse relationship. When your deductible is higher, you will pay a little less as a premium, and vice versa. Play with the deductible amount until you find a level that suits your financial situation. 

Below is information on the average savings you can expect by increasing the deductible amount on your comprehensive insurance policy. 

Percent discount gained by increasing deductible from $250 to $500 Percent discount gained by increasing deductible from $500 to $1000 Percent discount
National average8.00%10.00%

Be sure to choose a deductible you can afford to easily pay in the event of an accident.

Is comprehensive car insurance the same as full coverage?

No. Comprehensive insurance does not mean full coverage insurance. 

Full coverage insurance is its own separate term when it comes to insurance ; comprehensive insurance coverage can be part of full coverage insurance. Comprehensive insurance covers qualified damage to your vehicle not caused by a collision with another vehicle. Comprehensive coverage is sometimes known as “other than collision” (OTC) and covers non-collision related claims. So, if your car gets vandalized, stolen, damaged in bad weather, or attacked by an angry squirrel, comprehensive insurance will likely have you covered. 

Full coverage insurance on the other hand, is a combination of different types of coverages which together result in being fully covered in the event of an accident. Think of it as ordering “a la carte” from a menu to create your personalized meal; you have a choice of several levels of coverage which, when combined, offer you maximum protection. Full coverage insurance is a combination of Liability, Collision and Comprehensive coverages. 

So, while comprehensive coverage and full coverage insurance are not the same thing, they work together to provide you with the protection you need in a variety of situations.

In short, here is a short summary of the 3 types of coverage that make up what we call full coverage: 

LiabilityCollisionComprehensive
Rear ending someoneNoYesNo
Running into somethingNoYesNo
Collision with an animal NoNoYes
Rental car when yours is being repairedNoNoNo
Personal injuries to selfNoNoYes
Personal injuries to third partyYesYesYes
Damage caused to third party vehiclesYesNoYes
Mechanical breakdownNoNoNo
Off-road use of the vehicleNoNoNo
Use of vehicle in a car-sharing programNoNoNo
Racing or other speed contestsNoNoNo
Catastrophes such as war or nuclear contaminationNoNoNo
Confiscation by government or civil authoritiesNoNoNo
Vehicle use for delivery purposes or any business useNoNoNo
Types of coverage

Is Comprehensive insurance mandatory? 

No. Comprehensive insurance is not mandatory and is not part of the state minimum requirement for car insurance. However, you may be required to purchase comprehensive insurance if you lease or buy a car using a loan. Your lender or financer will most likely require you to purchase full coverage insurance which includes, comprehensive, collision and liability insurance.

Generally, if your car has decent value, you should consider adding comprehensive insurance to your coverage package. Even if your car is older, this does not mean that buying comprehensive insurance would not be a good investment. 

There are problems that both old and new cars have in common and comprehensive insurance will protect against. For example:

  • Any damage to the windshield like cracks from kicked up rocks
  • Any damage sustained as a result of fire
  • Any damage from acts of nature like storms or hail

These are all very common causes of damage to cars and the cost to you is the same whether you have an old car or a new car.

Who needs comprehensive car insurance?

Since comprehensive insurance is not mandatory, determining whether or not it is needed is on a case by case basis. 

To determine whether or not comprehensive coverage is worth it, consider the value of your car and the cost of your deductible. As your car depreciates, comprehensive coverage becomes less valuable since your policy will never pay out more than your car’s value. If for example, you have a $1000 deductible on a car $1000, you’re paying for insurance that is useless because there won’t be anything to pay beyond your deductible. 

Also, consider how much you’re paying for the coverage. If your premium and your deductible add up to more than your car is worth, comprehensive coverage won’t be worth it for you.

The general questions to consider when deciding for or against comprehensive coverage are:

Would you be able to afford a new car?

If your car is totaled by a hurricane for example, would you be able to buy a new car out of pocket? If not, then opt for comprehensive insurance because you’d only have to pay your deductible.

Do you prefer to pay for insurance monthly or pay for repairs out of pocket?

Dropping comprehensive coverage could save you money every month but remember that you would then be responsible for any damages 100% out of pocket. Weigh these costs to help decide which is right for you.

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