Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

This device is too small

If you're on a Galaxy Fold, consider unfolding your phone or viewing it in full screen to best optimize your experience.

Skip to main content

What Is Comprehensive Car Insurance?

Dana George
By: Dana George

Our Insurance Expert

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Auto insurance is, by design, meant to protect you from financial trouble if your car is damaged or someone is injured while riding in your vehicle. Comprehensive car insurance adds an extra level of protection. Here, we'll describe what comprehensive insurance is and help you decide if it's something you need.

What is comprehensive car insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance is designed to pay for damages if a driver's vehicle is damaged due to factors other than collision. For example, if a driver hits an animal while driving and the vehicle sustains damage, it is comprehensive coverage that kicks in to cover the cost of repair.

While some auto lenders require borrowers to carry comprehensive insurance coverage, it is typically optional. The most comprehensive coverage will pay for repairs is based on the cash value of the vehicle.

What comprehensive car insurance covers

Here's a sample of when comprehensive applies:

  • Someone steals a car
  • A vehicle is damaged by hail
  • A car hits an animal causing damage to the vehicle
  • Someone slashes the tires or breaks the window of a car
  • The wind causes a tree to fall on the vehicle
  • A fire gets out of control and sets a car on fire

What comprehensive car insurance doesn't cover

There are a few things comprehensive car insurance doesn't cover. Let's say a deer runs across a road, and the driver swerves to avoid hitting the animal. Instead, the car runs into a tree. That incident would not be covered by comprehensive insurance but by collision coverage. Here are a few other examples of what comprehensive car insurance does not cover:

  • Rolling a car
  • Hitting another object or vehicle
  • Being hit by another vehicle
  • Normal wear and tear on a vehicle

Why get comprehensive car insurance?

As careful as a driver may be, it is impossible to predict how a car might be damaged. Having comprehensive coverage adds another layer of protection to a standard auto policy. No one expects a wildfire to catch their car on fire, and for most people, having a car stolen comes as a surprise. Comprehensive auto insurance fills the gaps, covering many repairs that are not covered by collision insurance.

Comprehensive car insurance limits and deductibles

Comprehensive car insurance comes with limits and deductibles. The most an insurance company will pay toward comprehensive coverage is the actual cash value of a vehicle. In other words, an insurer will not pay $5,000 to repair a vehicle worth $2,000.

A deductible is an amount a driver is responsible for paying in the event of an insurance claim. Let's say a tree falls on a car causing $7,000 in damage, and the driver carries a $1,000 deductible. That means the driver is responsible for paying the first $1,000 of repairs and the insurance company will pick up the remaining $6,000.

Let's take this one step further and imagine the damaged car only has a cash value of $4,000. If that were the case, the driver would pay $1,000, and the insurance company would pay $3,000. If the vehicle was worth less than the driver's deductible, the driver would be on the hook for the entire repair.

When a driver purchases a new insurance policy, it is up to that person to determine the amount of deductible they are most comfortable with. The lower the deductible on an insurance plan, the higher the insurance rate. Conversely, the higher the deductible, the lower the insurance rate.

What is the difference between collision and comprehensive coverage?

In a nutshell, collision insurance is meant to cover car accidents, while comprehensive insurance covers losses that are not the result of car accidents. Collision insurance is less expensive, but policyholders take on more financial risk since they have less coverage.

What is the difference between comprehensive and full coverage?

Again, comprehensive auto coverage protects against the types of perils it is difficult to plan for, like wildfires, theft, vandalism, storms, and animals on the road. Full coverage includes both collision and comprehensive insurance protection. It is the most complete auto insurance a driver can purchase.

Given the amount of time most of us spend in our vehicles and how much many of us need an automobile to get around, it's important to protect our rides. Automobile insurance is the best way to do that. For those not sure how to get started, this article can help.


  • Let's say someone parks their car at a retail store and goes in to shop. A sudden storm hit the area and high winds picked up a shopping cart and blew it through the window of the shopper's vehicle. If that person has comprehensive coverage insurance, the insurer will pay to have the car repaired.

  • While liability insurance covers damage to another person's car, comprehensive coverage protects the driver's car from unexpected peril. Both liability coverage and comprehensive coverage are valuable ingredients in the perfect car insurance policy.

  • Normally, comprehensive insurance is optional coverage. The only exception may be if a person is leasing or financing their vehicle and their lender requires them to carry comprehensive coverage until the vehicle is paid in full.

Our Insurance Expert