Why Comprehensive Insurance Can Be Misleading

by Christy Bieber | Updated May 21, 2022 - First published on July 31, 2021

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Car accident between two vehicles on the road.

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Drivers may be surprised to find comprehensive coverage isn't that comprehensive at all.

When buying auto insurance coverage, motorists will see many different policy options. One type of coverage most insurers offer is called "comprehensive" coverage.

Drivers may assume that comprehensive coverage provides all the protection that they will need. In reality, however, comprehensive car insurance protects against only a subset of very specific types of losses -- and motorists need other types of coverage in addition to it in order to be protected.

Here's the reality of what comprehensive insurance actually pays for.

Comprehensive insurance doesn't cover as much as motorists may think

When it comes to auto insurance, "comprehensive" has a specific meaning, which may be different than the standard definition most people think of. Comprehensive insurance refers to damage to vehicles that happen for reasons other than crashes. While it covers a full array of non-collision-related damages, that is all the protection it provides.

For example, comprehensive insurance would typically cover:

  • The theft of a vehicle
  • Damage to a car from vandalism
  • Damage from riots
  • Damage from falling trees
  • Damage from explosions
  • Damage from road debris
  • Damage from items that fall off cars
  • Hail damage
  • Lightning damage
  • Storm damage
  • Earthquake damage
  • Damage from animals, such as if a vehicle strikes a deer

It does provide protection from a lot of losses, which helps explain why it's referred to as comprehensive coverage. However, it doesn't cover many other important components, such as:

  • Personal injury a policyholder causes other people to experience as a result of a crash
  • Property damage the policyholder causes
  • The policyholder's car repairs or replacement of the policyholder's vehicle in the event of an accident
  • Damages the policyholder experiences because of a crash caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist

Many motorists need multiple types of coverage that protect against all of these different kinds of losses. Otherwise, a driver who has comprehensive coverage but not collision coverage could find themselves faced with paying for 100% of car repairs (or replacement of the vehicle) if that motorist is in a single car accident. And a motorist who has comprehensive coverage but not liability coverage could end up paying a fortune in damages if they are at fault for causing a car crash.

Every motorist needs to have the right kind of auto insurance coverage

Drivers need to understand the reality of how comprehensive car insurance works and exactly what it covers.

This type of protection is sometimes called non-collision coverage, which makes things a little clearer. But those who want to be sure they have the right insurance to cover most or all of their damages should be sure to read their policy options carefully to find out exactly what kind of protection each provides.

By learning about different types of insurance, drivers can get the car insurance coverage they need, so no matter what happens on the road, their insurer will share the risk of loss with them. Reviewing coverage options will shed light on why comprehensive insurance isn't as complete as some might think. It's far better to know ahead of time and get the right protection before an accident happens, because afterwards, it will be too late to avoid loss.

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