What does comprehensive coverage do?
Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car from incidents other than collisions. This normally includes coverage for:
- Glass damage (such as a broken windshield)
- Damage sustained from hitting an animal or bird
- Damage from falling objects or missiles
- Severe weather damage
To file a hail damage claim, hurricane damage claim or tornado damage claim for your car, you must have comprehensive coverage.
You need to obtain not only comprehensive but also collision coverage to have physical damage or “full coverage” on your car. Collision will cover you if your car hits, or is hit by, another vehicle or object. Some insurance companies will not offer you comprehensive coverage unless you also carry collision coverage as part of your car insurance policy.
When obtaining a quote for comprehensive coverage, you will need to choose a deductible amount. A deductible is the portion of a claim that you’re responsible for paying before your insurance benefits start to pay out.
The value of the car, your driving record, the deductible you choose and repair costs determine the cost of comprehensive coverage, but it is usually very affordable. The average annual cost nationwide for comprehensive coverage is just $192, according to a rate analysis by CarInsurance.com. That’s not much to pay to ensure you get the actual cash value (ACV) for your car, minus the deductible, if your car is totaled. ACV is how much your car is worth on the market before it sustained damages.
Comprehensive claims will not raise your rates unless you file multiple claims in a short period.
How much does comprehensive coverage cost?
Enter your state in the search field in the table below to see the average comprehensive insurance cost, per year, for your location. You’ll see the following states are the cheapest, coming in at $100 or below, or about $90 less than the national average:
The following states are the most expensive, coming in around $400, or about $200 more than the national average:
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
Is comprehensive coverage mandatory?
Comprehensive insurance is not legally required by any state. Most states require property damage liability so that your insurer will pay (up to your limits) if you damage other people’s vehicles or property, but states do not require that you carry coverage to pay for damages to your own car.
However, if you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, then your lienholder can (and usually will) require that you carry this coverage and may mandate the specific deductible amount you have to select.
If want to lower your insurance premium by raising your deductible while your car is still financed, be sure to check with your lienholder to see if they will allow a higher deductible than what you are currently carrying.
What is the recommended deductible?
Usually, you can choose for your comprehensive deductible an amount anywhere from $100 to $2,500 (deductible choices vary according to state laws and insurance company guidelines). Most car owners choose a deductible of between $250 and $1,000.
The higher the deductible the less expensive your premium will be, because the insurer is taking less risk of paying out for claims.
Take your own finances into account when choosing a deductible. Saving money on your premium is nice, but do you have the ability to take on a larger out-of-pocket expense when making a claim? For example, if you set your deductible at $1,000 and your car sustains damages totaling $1,800, you will pay $1,000 and your insurance company will pay $800.
Deductibles are normally due per incident, so you will have to pay your deductible amount out every time you make a comprehensive claim. The exception being if you live in a state where laws require the deducible to be waived for windshield claims.
What happens if I don’t have comprehensive coverage?
Without comprehensive coverage, you cannot make a car insurance claim if your vehicle receives damage that is considered “other than collision” damage by your insurer. This leaves you personally responsible to pay for the repairs, unless there is someone else found liable for the damages (such as a vandal or car thief) that is known and available for you to go after for the repair costs.
With a newer, high valued car, you will usually want this added protection for your vehicle, whether you have financed it or not. If your car is stolen soon after you buy it, you don’t want to be out the full cost of a replacement vehicle.
If you have an older car with a low value (without a lease or loan on it), you may not want to pay for this coverage since if the car is damaged, or totaled, the low insurance compensation amount may not be worth the premium paid out.
Knowing how much your vehicle is worth can help you decide if comprehensive coverage is worth the extra cost. Find out the current value of your car by using appraisal tools offered on sites such as Kelley Blue Book (KBB), NADAguides, and Edmunds.
Comprehensive deductible: How to make the smart choice
Comprehensive deductible: Learn what to choose
Comprehensive insurance is optional, but if you’re thinking of buying it, you will have to decide what your comprehensive deductible will be.
Unless you have savings on hand to fund the cost of car repairs, buying comprehensive insurance is a prudent move. It pays for damage to your car from hail, fire, flooding, theft, vandalism, collisions with animals and falling objects such as trees.
One way to save on comprehensive insurance is to raise your comprehensive deductible, but there several factors you should consider before making this decision.
How car insurance deductibles work
A car insurance deductible is the amount you pay toward repairs before your insurance policy kicks in. (Our car insurance deductible chart shows the dollar and percentage amount reduction by state that you get by raising your deductible.)
Typically comprehensive deductibles range from $100 to $2,500, as car insurance deductible choices vary depending on your state laws and insurance company guidelines. Generally, deductibles tend to be between $250 and $1,000.
The higher the deductible, the lower your premiums will be. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 can reduce comprehensive insurance costs by 15 to 30 percent, while a jump to a $1,000 deductible can save you 40 percent or more, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group based in New York.
The downside to high comprehensive deductibles is that this amount will be subtracted from your insurance claim and you will be responsible for the rest of the repairs.
For example, if you set your comprehensive deductible at $1,000 and your car sustains damages totaling $1,800, you will pay $1,000 and your insurance company will pay $800.
Car insurance deductibles are normally paid per incident, so you will have to pay your deductible amount out every time you make a comprehensive claim. The exception being if you live in a state where laws require the deducible to be waived for windshield claims.
Why you may not want a high comprehensive deductible
If you’re looking to trim costs on your policy by raising car insurance deductibles, you may want to do so with your collision coverage instead of your comprehensive. Collision coverage pays for damage to your car from accidents, which may be easier to avoid than theft and natural disasters, which fall under comprehensive claims.
Another reason you may not want to raise your comprehensive deductible is that it doesn’t cost that much. For example, in Florida, drivers pay $86 a year for comprehensive, on average, according to CarInsurance.com’s analysis of Quadrant Information Services data showing rates from six insurers for nearly every ZIP code in the country. The average annual cost is $134, according to the III.
How much comprehensive insurance should I have?
You cannot choose how much comprehensive insurance to buy. The most your insurance will pay out is the car’s actual cash value – what the car was worth on the market before the damage occurred – minus your chosen deductible amount.
You can negotiate the actual cash value of your car in the event of a total loss by providing different examples of similar cars. Settlements should include taxes and fees you paid at purchase.
Comprehensive insurance claims and your rates
Unlike liability or collision claims for accidents, comprehensive claims typically won’t increase your rates. The exception may be if you file multiple claims in a very short period of time.
Comprehensive and collision coverage
Comprehensive and collision insurance are two types of car insurance that are optional for many drivers. States do not currently require drivers to obtain these coverage options, as they do with liability insurance.
While comprehensive and collision auto insurance are frequently discussed together, they can be purchased individually or jointly. Bear in mind that these coverages usually do extend to rental cars you may drive, but do not extend protection should you have an accident while driving a friend’s car. Auto insurance typically follows the vehicle, not the driver, with the exception of rental cars.
Collision and comprehensive are referred to as “physical damage” coverages because they cover damage to your vehicle. If you finance or lease your vehicle, your lender will require you to carry this auto insurance.
What is comprehensive auto insurance?
Comprehensive refers to auto insurance that covers damage to your car that is not caused by a collision. The word “comprehensive” means “completely or broadly,” according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. So, it’s understandable that insurance buyers might think that “comprehensive” means “full coverage,” or that it may reimburse them for any kind of damage to their cars – but that’s not the case.
What does it cover?
Examples of items covered by comprehensive insurance include damages caused by:
- Windshield repair*
- Damage caused by falling or airborne objects like hail, rocks or tree branches.
- Natural disasters
- Civil disturbances
- Striking an animal (including deer) or bird
*Generally, most auto insurers cover 100 percent of the cost to repair smaller cracks. If your windshield needs to be replaced, you normally will have some out-of-pocket costs, in the form of your deductible. Your deductible is the amount you owe before your physical damage coverage, collision or comprehensive, kicks in. You choose your deductible amount at the start of your policy.
Comprehensive coverage does not pay for damages triggered by a collision, thus it is also known by the name “other than collision.”
Natural disasters covered by comprehensive coverage includes damages caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, wind storms, and flood waters.
What is collision insurance?
Collision auto insurance covers damage to your vehicle caused by contact with another vehicle or object, including rollovers. Your collision coverage covers your vehicle regardless of who is at fault for the damage.
What does it cover?
Examples of items covered by collision insurance include damages caused by:
- Hitting a tree or telephone pole
- Colliding with a building, for example the drive-through window at your bank
- Rolling your car
- Hitting a pothole or curb
- Backing into another car
- Being hit by another car
Collision coverage comes with a deductible, which means you are responsible for some of the initial cost to repair your vehicle. Deductibles typically range from $250 to over $1,000 (per event, not per year). If you have a $500 deductible, and the drive-thru incident causes $1,000 in damage, you’ll pay $500 and your insurer will pay $500.
If another vehicle is responsible for your car’s damage, but you use your collision coverage for the claim, you still owe your deductible. However, your auto insurance company should subrogate (try to recover your repair costs from the at-fault party). If it is successful in its subrogation, your deductible may be refunded to you.
Comprehensive vs collision
It may not always be obvious which type of physical damage insurance coverage applies, collision or comprehensive. Both types of policies are optional (from a legal perspective, though if your car is financed or leased, your lender will require them). Both pay for damage to your vehicle and both come with deductibles. However, there are many differences between the two coverages, and it is wise to purchase both if you want solid protection.
In general, comprehensive auto insurance pays for damages when humans have little or no control over the incident – for example, flood or mudslide damage or a deer running into your car. Collision takes care of damages that occur when a driver has more control over the situation – if, for example, you are rear-ended , or someone sideswipes you in a parking lot.
What if you hit a tree while avoiding a deer in the roadway? Should you file this as an animal damage (comprehensive) claim or collision claim? While you, the driver, do not control the path of deer, you do control your car. Even though the primary cause of damage was a suicidal deer, the ultimate ruin to your car happened because you drove your vehicle into a stationary tree, thus, it’s a collision claim. If instead you hit the deer, your comprehensive coverage would cover the claim. The table below lists a few claims, and which types of insurance applies.
Type of Claim
Damage from hitting a boulder in the road
Damage from a boulder rolling into your car
Tree limb falls onto car roof
Car runs into fallen tree in road
Smashed window from someone breaking into your car
Window broken from hit-and-run driver running into your car
A notable difference between collision and comprehensive coverage is that you are more likely to see future car insurance rate increase from collision claims than you are from comprehensive claims. Collision claims may be your fault, and if so, expect your rates to rise. Typically, comprehensive claims are not “at-fault” incidents so your rates should not rise, some state laws mandate protection against rate increases related to comprehensive auto insurance claims.
Hit and run accidents
Hit-and-runs present a special case, and sadly, they are not uncommon. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 11 percent of all traffic accidents involve hit-and-run drivers. If another driver runs into your vehicle and leaves the scene without exchanging information, do your best to get a license number, description of the car and driver – if you are present during the incident.
Hit-and-run accidents are covered by collision insurance, since it pays regardless of who is at fault. However, to prove that you weren’t at fault, do your best to jot down the license plate number and description of the car that hit you, if you were present during the incident, and file a police report. These are great steps to prove that you are not trying to file a fraudulent claim.
It is important to file a police report right away. Larry Peyton of Farmers Insurance in Incline Village, NV, says that neglecting to file a police report and provide identifying information can cause your insurance rate to increase. That’s because the insurer has no way of knowing if another party actually caused the damage, or if you’re lying to protect yourself or a family member.
If your car is damaged while parked and unattended, the source of damage may not always be apparent. Find out if any cameras captured the incident or whether anyone witnessed it.
Hit-and-run insurance can seem confusing, but we have all the tools to make you feel more comfortable.
Do you need comprehensive and collision insurance?
Just because comprehensive and collision coverages aren’t legally mandated doesn’t mean you don’t need these types of auto insurance. The law doesn’t require you to wear a coat when it’s 10 below zero out, either, but most people would say it’s a good idea.
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is not having the coverage,” says Peyton. “Because it’s almost always the person who can’t afford an unexpected expense who decides to try and save a little money by dropping coverage.”
Without comprehensive and collision insurance, you are at risk for covering all repairs or the total replacement of your car out-of-pocket.
Use our coverage calculator to find the recommended coverage that is right for you.
If you have financed your car and still owe a balance, you probably won’t have a choice — your lender will almost certainly require comprehensive and collision insurance (and even dictate how high a deductible you can choose). Those who own their cars outright must decide if it makes sense to buy this additional coverage. If you want your car protected from damages from collisions and weather, fire and theft, it’s a no-brainer, buy the coverage.
Local conditions may tip the balance in favor of buying insurance. If you live near a designated “open range,” for example, cattle are not required to be fenced in. Not only are you more likely to collide with them, you can be held liable for damage to livestock. People who drive frequently in wooded areas may have a high risk of colliding with a deer. Your car’s damages could be a comprehensive claim and damage to livestock would be a liability claim.
“There are plenty of uninsured drivers out there,” cautions Penny Gusner, of Insurance.com. “Uninsured motorist property damage isn’t offered in all states and where it is offered, the limits may be low, such as $2,500. Some states also have low limits for property damage liability, such as California’s $5,000 limit, and an at-fault party’s insurance may not cover your entire loss. Collision coverage may help you fully recoup damages in these scenarios.”
According to an Insurance Information Institute study, 77 percent of insured drivers purchase comprehensive coverage and 72 percent carry collision insurance. Of those who carry comprehensive coverage, analysts at the Insurance Service Office (ISO) report:
- 2.6 percent of people with comprehensive coverage filed a claim in 2013.
- Claims averaged $1,621.
The state in which you live can be an important factor in this auto insurance decision. In California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana and Ohio, for example, your uninsured motorist coverage will not cover your vehicle in the event of a hit-and-run. You are only protected if you also purchase collision coverage.
If your car is financed, collision and comprehensive may not be enough coverage. If you owe more than the value of the car, you also should consider gap insurance coverage (referred to sometimes as lease/loan payoff coverage). Your physical damage coverages will only pay up to the value of your vehicle at the time of the accident; gap insurance will then pay the difference between that value and what you owe to your lender. So, if the car is worth $15,000 and you owe $18,000, gap insurance can help cover those few thousand dollars you’d have to pay out-of-pocket otherwise. To get gap insurance, you must carry collision and comprehensive on your vehicle.
Comprehensive and collision insurance coverage limits
Unlike liability coverage that comes with specific coverage limits, collision and comprehensive insurance tops out at the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle, minus your deductible. Your car’s ACV is its fair market value the immediately before a total-loss accident occurs. Thus, if your car is worth $20,000 and your deductible is $500, you could receive up to $19,500 for the car. Your settlement should also include taxes and fees you paid at purchase, since you will need to pay similar fees for your replacement vehicle.
If your car is damaged so that the cost of repairs passes your insurance company’s total loss threshold, you should receive the car’s ACV (minus your deductible amount) rather than a payment to repair your car. The total loss threshold varies but typically ranges from around 70 percent to 100 percent of the ACV. State total loss thresholds are taken into account, but insurance companies can determine that a vehical is a total loss before the cost to repair reaches the state’s threshold. For example, in Colorado the state’s threshold is 100 percent of the car’s value, but your insurer’s internal guidelines may say to total out a car when repair costs reach 75 percent of the car’s value.
The ACV your insurance company offers you as a settlement may not match up to what you believe your car is worth. If that is the case, negotiate with your insurer by bringing proof that cars from the same model year, in the same condition of your pre-accident vehicle, are being sold for higher prices in your area.
Comprehensive and collision coverage won’t pay more than your car’s ACV. If you owe a lender more than the value of your vehicle, you should obtain gap insurance that covers the difference between the ACV paid by your insurer and what you still owe the lender.
If you have a collectible vehicle whose value is extremely high or hard to determine, explore a specialty car insurance policy featuring collision and comprehensive coverage with an agreed upon value for your vehicle. This allows a restored classic to be insured for its true worth instead of being compared to unrestored vehicles of the same age in a total loss situation.
If your car is not a total loss, then your insurance company should pay for your damages, minus your deductible. This means if repair costs are $2,500 and your deductible is $500, your insurance company should pay out $2,000.
How much does comprehensive and collision coverage cost?
The cost of car insurance coverage depends on many rating factors, from your age, gender and driving record to your location and credit rating. Especially important for collision coverage rates is the type of car you drive and your driving record.
Insurance companies have internal claims information on your model car, and if the rate of claims and/or repairs is high, you may have to pay more for your coverage. If your car has a high theft risk, your comprehensive rate is likely to be a bit higher.
Your driving record also shows what type of risk you are to car insurance providers. If you’re accident-prone and have multiple past claims, expect to pay more for your collision coverage.
Location is also a big factor influencing cost, if you live in a congested, urban area you’ll pay more than someone in a rural area. Just as someone in an area that is prone to hail storms (and thus hail claims) will pay more than someone who lives where weather claims are low.
Average costs for coverage vary by state, with the average being $596 per year for collision coverage, and $192 for comprehensive coverage, according to a rate analysis by Insurance.com. Depending on the value of your vehicle, this can be quite inexpensive, considering that if your car is totaled in an accident, you should receive the actual cash value (ACV) for your vehicle, minus your deductible. Your car’s ACV is the fair market value of the vehicle the moment before the accident (damage) occurred.
The chart below breaks down collision and comprehensive costs by state. Enter your state in the search field to see what you can expect to pay.