Comprehensive Car Insurance: Guide To Comprehensive Coverage, Benefits, And Premiums

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Comprehensive car insurance is an automotive insurance policy that insures policyholders for all non-collision events. If your car is stolen or damaged in an incident not related to a traffic accident, you will be covered under comprehensive car insurance. Comprehensive vehicle insurance provides coverage for unpredictable accidents (typically not covered by auto insurance) such as theft, vandalism, falling objects, fires, and more. Comprehensive auto insurance is an optional add-on policy which is only mandatory on new car leases. If you own an expensive vehicle, this insurance will cover the full replacement cost in the event of theft. This guide will explain how comprehensive car insurance works, benefits, coverage, costs, and other details.

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Imagine all the possible things that could go wrong: You wake up in the morning and find out someone stole your rearview mirrors. An ex-girlfriend scratches your car with a key. On the highway, a rock falls on your windshield and cracks it. During a hurricane, your neighbor’s tree falls on your car and wrecks it. You park your car in the mall parking lot and find out it’s missing. What do these have in common? They’re all covered by comprehensive car insurance. None of these events involve a traffic/collision accident, yet you’re covered for all those possibilities. The insurance company will pay the full repair/replacement costs for parts and it will even replace your car if it’s stolen following a police investigation.

What Comprehensive Car Insurance Covers

Comprehensive auto insurance covers you for all possible car damages that arise from non-collision events. Your car is insured even while you’re not driving it. The standard auto insurance policy is a collision insurance policy which means you’re only insured when you collide on the road with another motor vehicle, irrespective of whether you’re at fault.

However, many things can happen to a car while you’re not driving it. Comprehensive car insurance is there to cover you for all possible events missing from standard auto insurance coverage. This includes minor damage such as window cracks and it includes major damage such as wreckage caused by falling trees. While comprehensive car insurance policies vary greatly, the following coverage is included:

  • Fire/Explosion Damage. If the car is caught in a house fire or damaged in an explosion, you’ll be covered for the repairs.
  • Theft. If the car is stolen, the insurance company will reimburse you for the market value of the car. This includes damages from an attempted theft. Note: The insurance company will wait for a 30-60 lapse period to give time for the police to reclaim the car.
  • Natural Disasters. If the car is damaged in a storm such as a hail storm or a hurricane, you will be covered for the damages.
  • Falling Objects. If the car is damaged by any falling object such as a tree from your neighbor’s property or a rock landing from a mountain, you will be covered.
  • Vandalism. If the car is damaged at a public protest or another person keys your car, you will be covered under the vandalism clause.
  • Animal Damage. If you hit an animal on the road, you will be covered by comprehensive insurance. While this is technically a collision accident, you’re covered because you didn’t collide with another motor vehicle.
  • Glass Damage. Window and windshield damage is extremely common and comprehensive insurance may include expanded coverage for glass specifically. This allows you to make minor claims with $0 deductibles and without premium increases.

Note: While the aforementioned are covered, policyholders still have to pay a deductible for most comprehensive insurance claims. The deductible is the contribution you make before the insurance company pays for the rest of each claim. The deductible is determined based on the damage and it can cost from as little as a few hundred dollars up to $1000+ per claim. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible and the damage costs $10,000 to repairs, the insurance company will pay $9,000 while you pay $1,000. The company pays for repairs up to the current value of your car.

What Comprehensive Car Insurance Does NOT Cover

Comprehensive insurance does not cover certain accidents, but fortunately, most will be covered by your current auto insurance policy. The following is a list of things that comprehensive insurance does NOT cover:

  • Maintenance Issues. All issues that arise from lack of maintenance such as mechanical failures and engine issues are not covered by comprehensive insurance. Wear and tear damage is not included. The owner is responsible for maintaining the car. If the car was damaged due to lack of maintenance, you won’t be able compensated.
  • Personal Property Theft. If you store valuables in the car such as cash and jewelry, this will not be covered by your comprehensive insurance. While the personal property is protected under homeowners policies, this is not the case for auto insurance.
  • Medical Payments/Liability. Comprehensive insurance only covers you for the damage caused to your own vehicle, not other people’s vehicles. If you injure a person in an accident and cause damage to their car, you’ll have to tap into the liability insurance on your collision car insurance.
  • Driving Damage. Certain damages to the vehicle will not be covered while you’re driving. For instance, if a tree falls on your car in your driveway and destroys it, you’ll get paid for the full market value of the car. If you drive into a tree on the road, you won’t be covered. However, your collision insurance will take over.

Cost of Comprehensive Car Insurance

Comprehensive coverage costs only $160 per year on average. Comprehensive is offered as an add-on that can be included in your current auto insurance policy. The upgrade will cover you for all non-collision events. However, comprehensive insurance costs can vary greatly in each state. For instance, in the state of Wyoming, the average collision insurance cost is nearing $300/year while in California its only $96/year.

Deductibles for Comprehensive Auto Insurance

The deductibles are the costs you have to pay out of pocket for every claim you make. The insurance company will let you choose a fixed deductible and adjust your premiums accordingly. If you choose a deductible such as $500 your premiums could be higher than if you choose a higher deductible such as $1,500. The tradeoff is that while you may pay less in premiums, you’ll have to pay more out of pocket in the event of an accident. This is why you want to pick a deductible with a reasonable cost that will keep your premiums balanced.

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