Wondering what comprehensive car insurance coverage really means? The word comprehensive implies complete coverage, though it is often said in the car insurance industry that there is no such thing as “full coverage.” When you purchase liability insurance you are buying insurance protection against your mistakes, which affects the property of others. When you buy collision insurance coverage, you are buying coverage for your vehicle on the road.
However, collision insurance does not cover any and all damages that might occur to your vehicle in any setting. Collision insurance only covers vehicle collisions, meaning that all other situations (many there are) which could theoretically damage your car, are still a threat. Comprehensive car insurance is designed to cover these other situations.
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What Does a Comprehensive Auto Insurance Policy Cover?
The easiest way to understand comprehensive car insurance is to state that this policy covers every situation in which a parked car could be become damaged due to time and unforeseen occurrences. Under such a policy, your car is protected against vandalism and theft. In addition, cracked and broken windshields (whether due to vandalism or even resulting from falling objects while driving) are covered. Policyholders are also protected against damage that might occur to their parked vehicle as result of falling objects from trees or buildings. Regardless of whether a vehicle is parked or moving, the policy would cover such damage.
As much as we would like to believe that comprehensive coverage covers “everything” that could go wrong with your vehicle, this is simply not the case. Some insurance companies generously insure a variety of events that could result in vehicle damage, including inclement weather and animal attacks. If a severe thunderstorm strikes in your neighborhood, your car could be damaged by hail, flooding or lightning strikes. Most policies do cover these basic threats. That said, not all policies that state comprehensive coverage will cover damage resulting from hurricanes or tornados.
Comprehensive Car Insurance Policies Differ by Company
Besides thunderstorms, a comprehensive policy traditionally covers fire damage (whether accidental or due to arson) since not all homeowners insurance policies will include this provision for a car or truck. Animal attacks resulting in vehicle damage, resulting from a zoo or park, or from an animal in the wild, may also be covered.
It should be noted that insurance companies do not standardize such a policy. For example, one of the top auto insurance companies today states on their website that they only cover theft, vandalism, animal collision (meaning you hit an animal on the road), windshields, and windstorms. The same insurance company recommends that drivers complement comprehensive insurance with collision insurance, since this provides a sort of “full coverage” policy.
Drivers who are leasing a car are often required to have comprehensive and collision insurance if they are leasing a car from an auto dealership or a bank. This protects the owner against a total loss if the car is damaged and the leaser forfeits the note. There are also combined additional coverage policies, which are ideal for non-standard vehicles, such as large trucks. Comprehensive insurance protects you against damages that are usually not caused by direct collisions on the road. Therefore, such a policy could not protect you from uninsured motorists.
Understanding the Deductible and the Stated Amount
How does the deductible work with comprehensive insurance? Before signing the contract you choose a deductible, and this amount is the figure you will pay from your own savings account if an incident should occur. When you choose a higher deductible you are given a discount on the price of your premiums. This may not sound practical to you at first (after all, why pay for a policy if you are paying for all the minor damages) until you realize that such coverage is imperative in emergencies.
- What if your car is stolen or vandalized when you leave it at a friend’s house overnight?
- What if your car is blown away in a windstorm or severely damaged by hail?
- What if “who knows what” happens unexpectedly?
In any of the above situation you may end up having to pay thousands of dollars right out of your pocket without an adequate comprehensive car insurance policy.
As you come to a deal with the insurance company you will be asked to send in a “stated amount”, which is an estimate of your car’s current value. This amount will encompass all information related to the car’s year and condition. If your car is damaged you will have to contact the insurance company by calling a toll-free number and reporting the incident. The insurance company representative will then ask you to describe the damage and then send an investigator to look over the vehicle. Later, a claims adjustor will contact you and negotiate for the release of your recovery check.
Should You Buy Comprehensive Car Insurance?
If you are interested in protecting your vehicle from all threats, including off-road and on-road damages not covered by a collision policy, then talk to your auto insurance agent about adding comprehensive insurance. You can use our car insurance comparison website right now to compare auto insurance policies available in your city! Start comparing comprehensive car insurance quotes online by entering your zip code above now!