What is a comprehensive claim for auto insurance?

Non-collision damage to a vehicle is a comprehensive loss and is not covered by collision insurance. You need to have comprehensive coverage in order to make a comprehensive claim.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • Comprehensive coverage protects a vehicle in the event of theft, vandalism, flood, fire, falling objects, hitting an animal, or acts of nature
  • Comprehensive insurance is optional but may be required by some lenders
  • Comprehensive auto insurance rates will depend on where you live and what kind of car you drive

Choosing the right type of auto insurance coverage for your vehicle can get confusing. Many drivers find themselves wondering — what is the difference between collision insurance and comprehensive coverage, and what is a comprehensive loss?

The information in this article is intended to help answer the important questions you have about your auto insurance coverage. You will gain a better understanding of the differences between collision and comprehensive coverage and discover what counts as a comprehensive claim. Additionally, we’ll help you find the right kind of coverage you need in your auto insurance policy.

What is a comprehensive claim for auto insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance is an optional coverage you can add to your existing policy. Comprehensive insurance helps you cover vehicle damages that are not crash-related, including:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Weather event or act of nature
  • Fire
  • Striking an animal with your vehicle

A comprehensive claim for auto insurance will cover any loss or damage to your vehicle not resulting from a collision, occurring when you are not behind the wheel, or involving events that are beyond your ability to control as a driver. 

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When is comprehensive coverage mandatory?

State law does not require drivers to have comprehensive coverage. However, if you are leasing a vehicle, it’s common for the leaseholder to require comprehensive coverage as part of your lease agreement. 

Additionally, if you have financed your car, your lender may require that you include comprehensive coverage in your insurance policy until your debt is paid. Once you own your vehicle outright, it will be up to you whether to maintain any optional coverage in your policy.

Do I need comprehensive coverage?

If you are not required to have comprehensive coverage by a lender or lessor, it is your choice whether or not to add it to your policy. However, if you’re ready to buy comprehensive auto insurance, here are some things to consider:

  • Your car’s value. Generally, if comprehensive coverage costs you more than 10% of your car’s value, it may not be a good investment. You can calculate your car’s value with Consumer Reports.
  • Your location. If you live in an area that is prone to intense weather events, a comprehensive policy will better protect your vehicle.
  • Your ZIP code. If you live in an area with a high incidence of property crime, vandalism, and theft, the extra protection of comprehensive coverage could be worth the price.

You should also consider whether you could afford to replace your car if it was a total loss due to a comprehensive claim like theft.

What’s the difference between collision vs. comprehensive claims for auto insurance?

There are many types of auto insurance, but most states only require drivers to hold liability insurance on their vehicles. Liability insurance will pay for property damage and injuries that occur in an auto accident for which you are at fault but only covers losses that the other driver incurs. It does not cover your vehicle or treatment for any injuries you may sustain.

To get more substantial protections, you need to add other types of coverage to your auto insurance policy. The most common types of additional coverage are collision and comprehensive, and many drivers choose to carry both.

Collision coverage will pay the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle when you are in a car accident. Collision insurance applies to multi-vehicle crashes as well as collisions with objects or property. It also covers single-vehicle collisions that might occur if you swerve to avoid an animal and run into a tree or if a pothole causes your car to flip. 

Like comprehensive coverage, collision is optional coverage by state law, but lenders and lessors will require that you have it.

Comprehensive coverage covers vehicle damage that is not caused by a collision or involves circumstances beyond your control. For example, if you collide with a deer, the resulting damage is a comprehensive loss. 

Since you cannot reasonably anticipate the movements or behaviors of a wild animal, these types of collisions are deemed beyond your control. For this reason, comprehensive claims on auto insurance will not raise your rates.

Is comprehensive coverage expensive?

Comprehensive coverage rates vary based on several factors. The make and model of your vehicle will be a determining factor. High-end vehicles will cost more to cover than others as the insurance company takes a greater financial risk when considering the potential cost of a comprehensive loss on such a vehicle.

Your rates will also be determined based on how you store your vehicle. Considering what a comprehensive loss is, it is logical that areas with a higher likelihood of theft and vandalism will have higher rates if you don’t have a garage.

What level of deductible you choose will also affect your comprehensive rates. As with any type of insurance, a higher deductible will result in lower rates, and the lowest deductible will cause rates to rise.

The best insurance companies will take all of these factors into consideration.

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The Bottom Line on Protecting Yourself From a Comprehensive Loss

Comprehensive claims on auto insurance will help defray the cost of vehicle repairs or replacement for any damages not caused by a collision. Although this coverage is optional, you may be required to include it in your policy by a lender or leaseholder. 

You may also want to consider maintaining comprehensive coverage if you own an expensive vehicle or live in a high-crime area where you are more likely to experience a comprehensive loss.

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