Not surprisingly, a lot of our readers come to us for detailed information about car insurance. Because, let’s face it, while comprehensive coverage, medical payments, and personal injury protection are part of our daily vocabulary, they may not be standard in yours.

So why not make the most of this opportunity to fill in any holes you might have about understanding car insurance and how it all works?

Today, we’ll check out comprehensive coverage. Is it really as comprehensive as it sounds?

What is comprehensive coverage?

Car accidents aren’t the only way to cause damage to your car. Natural disasters and hooliganism can also send your car to the repair shop. And that’s where comprehensive coverage comes in.

Typically, it can help pay for damage to your car from:

  • Fire
  • Natural disasters
  • Falling objects
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Hitting a deer or other animal

Glass damage is usually covered under this coverage too.

Comprehensive coverage is a bit of a misnomer, however. It may cover a lot, but it doesn’t cover everything. Towing, rental reimbursement, and personal property (and, of course, collision and liability) coverages have to be purchased separately.

For more on this, check out Comprehensive Covers Everything: Debunking a Car Insurance Myth.

How does comprehensive coverage work?

When you file a claim, comprehensive coverage typically pays for your car repairs, minus your deductible. If the repairs cost more than your car is worth, however, you’ll be reimbursed for your car’s actual cash value (your car’s replacement price, or fair market value, minus depreciation). Your deductible still applies to replacements, so choose a deductible you can afford.

Is comprehensive coverage required?

In a word: no. But in several words: if you finance or lease your car, your lender may require you to purchase it.

Even if it’s not required, you should consider buying it if you have a newer car or one that would be expensive to repair or replace … especially if you live in an area that’s prone to natural disasters or wandering woodland creatures.

Do comprehensive coverage and collision coverage always go together?

Though comprehensive and collision are 2 separate coverages, they tend to go hand in hand and are sometimes referred to together as “physical damage coverage.” In most states, if you buy collision coverage, you must also buy comprehensive coverage (though not the other way around).

Try the Esurance Coverage Counselor®

Wondering if comprehensive coverage is right for you? Answer a few questions from our online Coverage Counselor and it’ll help you select the right coverage for you based on your input.

While you’re at it, here are some handy guides on collision coverages and other common questions.


Car insurance 101


about Jessica

During her time as senior copywriter at Esurance, Jessica wrote about everything from automotive trends to insurance tips to driving dogs (it’s a thing!). In her free time, you can find Jessica hiking with her dog (who cannot drive), devouring a good mystery, or very slowly learning Spanish.