What does comprehensive in car insurance mean?

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Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for CarInsuranceCompanies.com with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in...

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Chris Harrigan has an economy degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise...

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Reviewed byChris Harrigan
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UPDATED: Oct 26, 2019

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Key takeaways...
  • Comprehensive coverage covers damages in accidents that are “other than collision”
  • There are exclusions to what it may cover
  • It is not a required coverage by law

Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car in an event other than a collision. You can make a comprehensive insurance claim in the event of:

  • Fire
  • Theft/vandalism
  • Flooded
  • Hitting an animal

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What Comprehensive Insurance Covers

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— Fire

There are situations where comprehensive coverage would help cover the cost of damage to your car if it catches fire:

  • Mechanical fire – A car that has a mechanical or wiring defect resulting in an engine fire would be covered under comprehensive insurance.
  • Forest fire – If your car is caught in a forest fire, you can make a comprehensive claim to cover the fire damages.
  • House fire – If you have a house fire and your car suffers fire damages as a result, the damages are covered under your comprehensive insurance.

— Theft or Vandalism

A big reason to carry comprehensive insurance is to insure against theft or vandalism. If your car is stolen, the insurance company will most likely have a waiting period so that they can find the car before reimbursing you for the current market value of your car.

It’s best to look at your policy to see what your company will do for you in the event of theft.

— Flood

If your car was flooded due to natural causes, comprehensive insurance would cover the cost of damages. Your car could be flooded due to a hurricane, a heavy thunderstorm or other water disasters.

— Hitting an animal

A common reason for making a comprehensive insurance claim is hitting a deer. People who live in high traffic animal areas usually like to carry comprehensive coverage for this reason.

Damage due to animal accidents can be very pricey. It is always best to double-check your insurance policy to make certain that animal accidents are covered in your policy.

— Other Situations

If a tree limb falls on your car or if a rock is thrown from a lawnmower and hits your car, comprehensive should cover it.

Damage from nature, like from hail is also covered by comprehensive coverage.

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Exclusions

There are some exclusions when it comes to what comprehensive insurance will cover. Comprehensive coverage excludes:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Vehicle defects
  • Damage due to collision

It is always best to read your car insurance policy carefully to see what exclusions are specifically outlined with your company.

Not a Required Coverage

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Comprehensive coverage is not a required coverage by law. If you own your car outright, you have no obligation to carry comprehensive coverage.

Although, if your car has any value to you, you may want to consider adding it if you do not have it already.

If you finance or lease a car, the bank will usually require that you carry comprehensive coverage. This is simply to protect their asset in case of an accident resulting in damage.

How to File a Claim

When you add comprehensive coverage to your insurance, you are asked to choose a deductible. This is the amount you pay before your insurance company will cover the remainder of the cost.

A deductible can range from $0-$2000 depending on what your insurance company offers.

So if the damages to your car cost $1500 and your deductible is $250, then you would pay the first $250 to your insurance company and the insurance would then cover the rest of the $1250.

If you are involved in any of the above scenarios, contact your car insurance company immediately. They will record what happened and start the claims process for you.

To find out your insurance company’s exact claims process, give them a call or look through your insurance policy.

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To Add or Not to Add?

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Adding comprehensive coverage is a good decision for most people. Those with older model cars may choose to skip this coverage.

But if theft, vandalism, fire, flood or hitting an animal is a concern for you, then you may want to reconsider.

If you live in a high theft neighborhood, comprehensive coverage is for you. If you live in an area with a lot of deer, comprehensive coverage is for you. If you live in an area with frequent natural disasters, comprehensive coverage is for you.

Depending on the insurance company, comprehensive coverage may be pretty inexpensive to add. For most people, it’s worth the extra cost.

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