Do I Need Comprehensive Car Insurance?

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Comprehensive coverage is a type of car insurance that covers damage from unexpected perils like fire, hail, theft and vandalism. While it is not required by law, you will likely need comprehensive car insurance if you are leasing or financing your vehicle.

Keep reading to learn what comprehensive insurance covers and whether it is something you should add to your car insurance policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Comprehensive car insurance covers damage from fire, hail, theft, vandalism and similar perils.
  • While it isn’t required by law in any state, most lenders require you to have comprehensive coverage if you are financing or leasing your car.
  • Comprehensive coverage is included in a full coverage policy along with collision coverage, liability insurance and other state-mandated coverage types.
  • Your comprehensive limit is usually the actual cash value of your car, though you may be able to upgrade your policy to include replacement cost value coverage.
  • The average cost of an annual comprehensive insurance premium was $174.26 in 2020.

What Is Comprehensive Car Insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance is one of the two types of physical damage coverage, along with collision coverage. In general, comprehensive coverage accounts for most non-collision incidents that could damage your car; in fact, it is sometimes known as “other than collision” coverage. Covered events could range from natural disasters to damage intentionally done to your car by an unknown person.

Comprehensive coverage is often sold alongside collision insurance, which provides coverage in case you crash into another car or a stationary object like a tree, fence or guardrail. You can typically purchase a full coverage policy that will include both of the physical damage coverage types plus liability insurance and any other coverage types required in your state.

collision versus comprehensive car insurance coverage infographic

What Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover?

Comprehensive insurance generally covers damage from forces outside of your control. This sets it apart from collision insurance, which usually kicks in after an accident that you are responsible for. Examples of situations where your comprehensive coverage would provide financial support include:

  • Fire: A propane grill under your carport explodes and sets your car on fire.
  • Hail: You need a windshield replacement after a chunk of hail cracks your windshield.
  • Windstorms: High winds from a tornado or hurricane flip your car over.
  • Floods: Floodwaters ruin your car’s electrical system.
  • Earthquakes: Your car is crushed after a parking garage collapses during an earthquake.
  • Theft: An intruder damages your vehicle while attempting to steal gasoline or your car battery.
  • Vandalism: A disgruntled acquaintance keys the side of your car and slashes all of your tires.
  • Civil disturbance: A riot breaks out in your neighborhood and rioters throw rocks through your windows.
  • Falling objects: The roof of your car caves in after a heavy tree branch falls on top of it.
  • Collision with an animal: A deer runs into your car, shattering your headlights and tearing off your front bumper in the process.

What Isn’t Covered By Comprehensive Insurance?

In general, comprehensive insurance won’t cover medical bills or any damage you inflict on another person’s vehicle. However, you can usually make up for the blind spots of comprehensive coverage by purchasing other types of car insurance.

Below are some situations where comprehensive coverage wouldn’t kick in and whether there is another coverage type you can buy that would apply instead.



Covered By?

Someone else’s medical bills, lost wages and/or funeral expenses after an accident you were responsible for

You run a red light and hit a pedestrian trying to cross the street

Bodily injury liability coverage

Your medical bills and/or funeral expenses

You are rushed to the emergency room after crashing into a tree

Personal injury protection (also covers lost wages) or medical payments coverage

Someone else’s car or property repairs after an accident you were responsible for

You run over your neighbor’s mailbox while backing out of your driveway

Property damage liability coverage

Your car or property repairs

You swerve to avoid hitting another vehicle and flip your car in the process

Collision coverage

Medical expenses and/or repairs after an accident caused by an uninsured driver

Someone without insurance ignores a stop sign and crashes into the side of your car

Uninsured motorist coverage

Medical expenses and/or repairs that exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits

Someone with a $25,000 property damage liability limit causes $30,000 worth of damage to your vehicle

Underinsured motorist coverage

Outstanding loans on a lost vehicle

Your insurance company pays you $20,000 after your car is stolen but you still owe $25,000 to your lender

Gap insurance

Rental costs

You need to rent a car while your vehicle is being repaired after an accident

Rental reimbursement coverage

Tows, jumpstarts, fuel delivery, locksmithing services and/or emergency tire replacements

Your car breaks down on the side of the road and you need a jumpstart so you can get to the nearest auto shop

Roadside assistance plan

Belongings stolen from your vehicle

Someone steals your car while your phone and laptop are inside

Homeowners insurance

Routine repairs and maintenance

You take your car to a local auto shop for its regular oil change

Not covered by insurance

How Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Work?

If your car is stolen or totaled due to a peril covered by your comprehensive coverage, then your insurance company will typically pay you the actual cash value (ACV) of your car after you pay your deductible. Your deductible is the minimum amount of money you agree to contribute toward covered losses before your insurance company will chip in.

For example, if you have a $500 deductible on your comprehensive coverage and a tree causes $10,000 worth of damage by falling onto your car, then your insurance company would provide $9,500 for repairs. Typical comprehensive car insurance deductibles range from $500 to $1,500.[1]

car insurance repair bill payment shares bar graph

In general, the limit for your comprehensive coverage is the ACV of your car, which is how much the car is worth when you take depreciation factors like age or wear and tear into account. You may be able to raise your policy limit to your car’s replacement cost value (RCV), which is the amount it would take to replace it with a similar car. However, you will have to pay a higher premium to receive RCV coverage.

What Happens if My Car Is Stolen Then Recovered?

If you file an insurance claim for a stolen vehicle but the police recover your car before your insurance company pays you, you may still be reimbursed for any damage your car incurred during the theft. However, if your car is recovered after your insurance company has paid you, then the company will most likely take possession of the car.

Is Comprehensive Coverage Required?

Comprehensive coverage is not required by law in any state. However, if you are financing or leasing your car, then your lender will likely require you to have comprehensive coverage in order to better protect their financial interest in your car.

Once you have finished paying off your car, you are not required to have comprehensive insurance. However, it may be worth keeping if you live in an area that is susceptible to crime, extreme weather or other perils covered by comprehensive insurance.

Find Cheap Rates for Comprehensive Coverage

When Should I Drop Comprehensive Coverage?

It is recommended that you consider dropping comprehensive coverage if the cost of its premium is more than 10 times the value of your car.[2] In general, comprehensive insurance ceases to be cost-effective when the price of your premium plus your deductible is not worth the potential payout after a total loss.

As a result, comprehensive coverage may not be necessary for an older car that has significantly depreciated in value. You can estimate the ACV of your vehicle by putting information about the car into an online price guide like Kelley Blue Book.

Can I Add Comprehensive Coverage to My Policy at Any Time?

You should be able to add comprehensive coverage to an existing car insurance policy at any time. In general, you don’t have to wait until it’s time to renew your policy if you want to update your coverage. Keep in mind that adding comprehensive coverage to your policy will raise your premium.

The average cost of a comprehensive coverage premium in 2020 was $174.26.

Comprehensive coverage is considerably cheaper than both liability insurance and collision coverage, which averaged $631.19 and $370.73, respectively.[3]


Is comprehensive the same as collision insurance?

Comprehensive insurance is different from collision insurance, although they are often sold together. Collision insurance covers car repairs after an accident you are responsible for while comprehensive insurance covers non-collision perils like fire and theft.

What is a comprehensive deductible?

Your comprehensive deductible is the amount of money you must pay up front before your insurance company will contribute any money toward a comprehensive claim. Comprehensive deductibles usually range from $500 to $1,500.[1]

Can I add comprehensive coverage to my policy at any time?

Yes, you can generally update an existing policy to add comprehensive coverage at any time.

What’s the difference between comprehensive and full coverage?

Comprehensive coverage accounts for damage from perils like fire, hail, vandalism and theft. It is one part of full coverage, which also includes collision coverage, liability insurance and other coverage types required in your state.

Is it worth getting comprehensive car insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance is a worthwhile investment if you have a new and/or valuable vehicle or if you live in an area that is prone to crime, extreme weather or other perils covered by comprehensive coverage.


  1. Allstate. “What Is Comprehensive Insurance vs. Collision Coverage.” Accessed March 6, 2023.
  2. Insurance Information Institute. “Nine Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance Costs.” Accessed March 6, 2023.
  3. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report.” Accessed March 6, 2023.

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