Car Insurance / Types of Car Insurance / Do you need comprehensive coverage?

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive insurance is for everything that’s not considered a collision, but not really everything — there are exclusions which vary by insurer.

Reviewed by: Max Cho, Licensed Insurance Broker NPN 20377411

Types of Car Insurance: Minimum Required Insurance / Liability Coverage / Uninsured Motorist / Collision / Comprehensive / PIP / MedPay

It pays the cost of all of the other things that can happen to your car — theft, vandalism, flood damage, or a tree falling on it during high winds. It does not cover mechanical problems or maintenance.

Is comprehensive coverage required?

No. Comprehensive coverage is not legally required in any state. 

Some lenders require you to have comprehensive coverage, especially for leased vehicles. This is because technically the lender owns the vehicle and they want to recover as much of their loss as they can if a vehicle is totaled. The lenders assume you cannot pay what you owe on the totaled vehicle all at once.

Should I get comprehensive coverage?

That depends. The main question to ask is whether you can afford to replace your car if it is stolen or repair it if it is damaged badly in a weather event.

Your comprehensive coverage limit is typically the actual cash value of your vehicle (its value minus depreciation). You pay the deductible (of your choosing) when you make a claim for your comprehensive coverage. The coverage does not include aftermarket additions like sound systems and trim unless you have special endorsements for these items (you pay extra for the endorsements in your premium).

While you don’t decide how much comprehensive coverage you have, you do decide what your deductible is. Typically, the higher the deductible you elect, the lower the premium for this coverage will cost. 

Here are some things to consider:

  • If you have an inexpensive car and can cover the cost of replacing your vehicle, comprehensive coverage is not a good deal.
  • If you have an expensive or relatively new car, whether you owe money or not, you may not want to pay to replace it (even if you can), so you should at least consider comprehensive coverage.
  • If you make a claim against your comprehensive insurance, the cost of your premium may go up. 

There are some instances where maybe you want comprehensive coverage but don’t want collision coverage. Consider comprehensive coverage without collision coverage If you’re a good driver but:

  • you live in a place with a lot of car theft, or your make and model of car is a favorite among car thieves (like certain Kia and Hyundai models)
  • you live in a place with wild weather (tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, and hail)
  • you live in a place where wild animals are common (deer, elk, even goats and squirrels)

How does comprehensive coverage affect my premiums?

The table shown below illustrates how comprehensive coverage impacts your monthly premium based on how much your car is currently worth (not what you paid for it) and excludes the value of any upgrades or after-market additions. 

Here are some interesting things to take away from this data:

  • For cars valued less than $20k, getting comprehensive coverage is cheaper than not getting it. This makes comprehensive coverage a great idea. There’s also not a big difference between a high deductible and a low one, so you might as well set a low one.
  • For cars valued between $20-40k, there doesn’t appear to be a direct relationship between the size of the deductible and how it affects your premium, so you should definitely ask your insurer to check your actual premium price at each deductible option.
  • For cars valued more than $60k, comprehensive coverage makes a bigger impact on the monthly premium (unsurprisingly), but if you live somewhere with elevated risk for comprehensive claims — tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, or wild animals who damage cars like deer, elk, and rodents — comprehensive coverage is highly recommended.

Average Monthly Premium by Car Value & Deductible with Comprehensive Coverage

Car Value
Comprehensive Deductible < $20k $20-40k $40-60k $60-100k $100-200k
No comprehensive $127 $128 $132 $128 $115
$250 $126 $142 $175 $205 n/a
$500 $120 $132 $163 $187 n/a
$750** $117 $121 $134 $148 $149*
$1,000 $114 $142 $185 $180 $186*
$1,500 $111 $122 $150 $166 n/a

* Not enough data to be reliable

** This dataset is heavily influenced by Progressive Insurance’s policy quotes. Across the board, Progressive seems to give the best premiums to people who elect a $750 comprehensive deductible, many other companies don’t offer this as a deductible amount.

Where our data comes from

All of our quote data assumes the driver is: single, college educated, has a clean driving record, and has been driving since 16 years old. Age, gender, location, and miles driven per day are variable. We do not consider any discounts which might apply to you such as those for being a veteran, having multiple policies, loyalty, etc. 

The scenario above assumes you have at least 100/300/100 liability coverage limits, with UI/UIM and PIP where required.

Note: As Coverage Cat founder Max Cho likes to say, “insurance prices are weird.”

Full coverage

Comprehensive coverage, when combined with collision coverage and upgraded liability coverage, is often considered part of full coverage. There isn’t any standardized understanding of “full coverage” and both collision and comprehensive coverage aren’t a smart decision for every driver.

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