What Does Comprehensive Cover on Auto Insurance?

By Dayna Noffke

  • Overview

    Comprehensive auto insurance coverage pays for damage that happens to your car as a result of something other than a collision. This includes damages incurred as a result of theft, vandalism, storms, or other acts of nature.
  • Definition

    Comprehensive auto insurance coverage pays the cost of repairs to your vehicle in the event that it is damaged by a non-collision incident. The coverage is subject to a deductible, meaning that insurance will pay only the amount of damages that fall outside of that amount. For example, if your deductible is $500 and the damage to your vehicle will cost $1,000 to repair, you are responsible for the first $500 worth of damages. The insurance will cover the rest. If the car is a total loss, the coverage will pay for the Blue Book value of the car. Examples of damages that comprehensive coverage would cover include fire, theft , vandalism, and damages caused by natural events such as floods or storms.
  • Benefits

    The benefits of carrying comprehensive coverage are many. Without comprehensive insurance, in the event that a vehicle is stolen or damaged beyond repair by any other non-collision incident, the driver is solely responsible for this loss. It is wise to carry comprehensive coverage unless or until the individual would be able to cover the cost of a new vehicle if needed. Also, although comprehensive insurance is not required by law, lenders do require that you carry it until the vehicle is paid off in full. This is of benefit to both you and the lender, as you are protected from having to pay off a car loan for a car that is no longer in your possession or is not drivable.

  • Considerations

    Although comprehensive coverage will pay for the replacement cost of your vehicle in case of a total loss, it is important to realize that this amount will only be equal to the Blue Book value of your car. Because of depreciation, this amount may not be enough to purchase a replacement or similar auto. If this would be a problem for you, you can elect to purchase additional coverage.
  • Other Coverage Options

    When purchasing comprehensive coverage, you will need to consider what other types of insurance you want to carry. Most states require drivers to have liability insurance that covers damage to other vehicles in the event of a collision. Additional options include collision insurance, uninsured motorist coverage and other riders such as towing service and personal effects coverage. Collision insurance pays for damage to your vehicle if you are involved in an accident. Uninsured motorist insurance is optional and pays for damages that are caused by a motorist with no or insufficient insurance.
  • Misconceptions

    Many consumers mistakenly believe that the term 'comprehensive coverage' means that they are covered for any sort of damage to their vehicles. This is not the case. Comprehensive coverage will pay the cost of damages that occur as a result of a non-collision incident only. If you do not have collision coverage, you will not recoup any of the costs from an accident. Additionally, drivers should be aware that comprehensive damage covers the cost of repairing or replacing the car only, and does not provide any restitution for personal items in the car that were damaged or stolen. If you have expensive stereo equipment or routinely carry high value items in your vehicle, you will want to invest in separate insurance policy that covers personal property.
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