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Everything You Need to Know About Comprehensive Car Insurance

Not sure if you need it? We'll help you figure it out.

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by Team Onlia
Given that an average basic car insurance package already costs $1,505 per year, choosing to pay more by taking on comprehensive auto insurance coverage may not be something you’d want to consider.
But before you dismiss the idea, you should know that comprehensive insurance will cover expenses you incur due to non-collision vehicle damage — and this can include anything from a break-in to an act of god.

What is comprehensive car insurance?

Comprehensive insurance is optional automobile coverage. The average cost is around $100 to $300 and it can be used to repair or replace your car when damaged by things like fire or falling objects. For this reason, comprehensive auto insurance is often recommended along with collision insurance

What’s the difference between collision and comprehensive?

If you find yourself in an at-fault accident, your collision insurance will cover damages your car endures. However, if you get caught in a hail storm that riddles your car with dents, collision insurance won’t help you. If the damage wasn’t caused by a crash, it falls under comprehensive.

Collision and comprehensive are two sides of the same coin. If you never want to personally pay to repair major damages to your vehicle, you’ll need both to fully protect yourself.

What does comprehensive car insurance cover?

In the world of insurance, threats to you or your property are called “perils.” As a driver, you can get specified perils coverage for cost of damages from:

  • Fire
  • Explosion
  • Harsh weather
  • Lightning
  • Earthquake
  • Rising water
  • Car theft
  • Riots
  • Damage during transport

While this list seems extensive, it has glaring omissions that quality comprehensive auto insurance covers:

  • Vandalism
  • Animal collision
  • Falling objects
  • Flying debris
  • Windshield damage

In this way, comprehensive coverage earns its name. The garage burned down and took your car with it? You’re covered. You hit a deer and it smashed your windshield? You’re covered. Heavy winds picked up a stop sign and chucked it into your door? You. Are. Covered.

Does comprehensive insurance mean “full coverage”?

When you hear the term “full coverage,” it doesn’t actually refer to a specific insurance policy. It’s the combination of the three most prominent types of insurance: liability, collision and comprehensive.

In Canada, third-party liability is included in your mandatory insurance, so you can achieve full coverage by adding the other two. Together, these insurance policies will cover you for the majority of incidents that would otherwise cost you big money.

Is it worth having comprehensive coverage?

If you drive a vehicle on its last legs, you could opt to skip comprehensive insurance and take significant non-collision-related damage as a sign to get a new car altogether.  

If you’re willing to pay the cost of repairs if your car gets damaged, then comprehensive coverage might not be worth the price. But you should know that along with the out-of-pocket expenses are the hassles of finding a reputable body shop and arranging payment terms with them directly, arranging rental car pickup and return, and timing it all with when the body shop is scheduled to return your car – assuming they get it done in time. So before you make a call, decide if foregoing comprehensive insurance is worth the hassle you’ll have to endure.   

Most experts would recommend adhering to the 10% rule: if the cost exceeds 10% of the total value, then it’s cheaper to go without. Even so, comprehensive is inexpensive compared to liability and collision, so it may still be of value for your needs.

How does comprehensive car insurance work?

Filing a comprehensive insurance claim is simple. If your car is damaged in a non-collision, take pictures of the scene and write down anything that you witnessed. In the case of vandalism or theft, also remember to file a police report.

With these details, your provider will determine whether the damage falls under your comprehensive coverage. If it does, you’ll pay a deductible and your insurance will cover the rest up to your limit.

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