What Is Comprehensive Car Insurance Coverage?

Understanding what comprehensive car insurance covers.

Team LemonadeTeam Lemonade
Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

Comprehensive coverage is a type of car insurance coverage that helps pay to fix damage to your car, or possibly replace it, if there are damages from an incident that wasn’t a car accident. Essentially, it’s designed to cover things that are out of human control.

Including comprehensive insurance coverage on your car insurance policy means your insurance company may cover things like damage to your car from natural disasters.

Your comprehensive coverage can also have your back if your car is damaged from fire, vandalism, theft, or a falling object (like a tree or a branch), or if you hit a deer or other animal that damages your car.

Although comprehensive car insurance is typically an optional coverage, it is often required by auto lenders when you’re leasing or financing a car.

Here’s what we’ll discuss:

What does comprehensive auto insurance cover?

Comprehensive insurance covers the kinds of things you never expect to happen to you, but actually happen all the time. Check your specific policy for any exclusions, but comprehensive coverage usually includes:

  • Vandalism: Comprehensive car insurance has your back for vandalism—whether you get in an altercation in a parking lot and some nice gentleman decides to key your car, or a thief damages your vehicle while breaking in to steal the guitar in your backseat. One note on that last example: If someone breaks into your car, comprehensive insurance covers damage to the car itself, but not theft or damage to your things inside. So that guitar may be covered by renters or homeowners insurance. (BTW, you can bundle these at Lemonade and be eligible for a discount on each policy.)
  • Car theft: If your car is stolen, comprehensive insurance would cover theft as well, meaning you may be paid out the actual cash value of your vehicle if it can’t be recovered.
  • Accidents with animals: If you hit a deer, or some other animal, the collision damage will be covered by your comprehensive policy. 
  • Hail damage: Ever been caught in a hail storm? It ain’t fun. Serious hail storms can cause a lot of damage to your vehicle, but that’s covered under your comprehensive policy. 
  • Other kinds of storm damage: Hail isn’t the only climate event covered. Flooding, as well as other natural disasters, are usually covered by your insurer as well.
  • Falling objects: If your car is hit by a falling object—like a falling tree branch, or a rock that flies from the tire of a passing car—that can also be covered by comprehensive insurance. 
  • Damaged glass: If a rock cracks your windshield, comprehensive insurance typically covers the costs of repairing or replacing damaged auto glass. This usually involves a deductible, compared to extended glass coverage—another coverage option that also covers damaged auto glass, often with little or zero deductible.
  • Fire damage: If your car becomes a casualty of a local wildfire or bursts into flames for any reason, your comprehensive coverage could help pay to repair or replace it.

What isn’t covered by comprehensive car insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance does not cover damages from collisions with other vehicles or objects, which are typically covered by collision insurance. It also excludes mechanical failures, normal wear and tear, or damage resulting from poor vehicle maintenance. 

And, while comprehensive coverage could cover the theft of your car itself, it does not cover the theft of any items inside your car, which would fall under your homeowners or renters insurance policy.

Is comprehensive car insurance required by law?

No, there are no laws in any state requiring that you purchase comprehensive car insurance.

The only type of car insurance you are legally required to have is liability car insurance, which is mandatory in almost every US state.

Do I need comprehensive insurance? 

In most cases, it’s up to you. This will be optional coverage that you’ll have in addition to your liability and collision coverage on your car insurance.

You might not be legally required to have comprehensive insurance, but the question of whether or not you need it depends on you and the amount of financial protection you believe you need. Don’t forget that if you lease or take out a loan on your car, your lender or leasing company will likely require that you get comprehensive coverage. 

If you can’t afford a major repair, you’ll definitely want to have comprehensive coverage for your car. 

How does comprehensive insurance work?

Let’s say a flash flood wreaks havoc on your neighborhood, causing significant flood damage to your car’s engine. Luckily, comprehensive car insurance coverage covers flood damage

Here’s what the claims process looks like for this type of damage at Lemonade:

1. File a claim

Head to the Lemonade app to start filing your car insurance claim

Our trusty chatbot, AI Jim, will guide you through the process, prompting you to provide details about the incident and share a few photos of the damage. You’ll then you’ll get paired with one of our (human) claims adjusters who will help you through the rest of the process—like coordinating car repairs, and picking up a rental car if necessary. 

2. Assess options to repair or replace your damaged car

Depending on the level of your car’s damage, you’ll need to have it repaired or replaced. Getting your car to a body shop as soon as possible (even before submitting your claim) is an important step in determining the damage from the crash. 

At Lemonade Car, you’ll have the option to take your car to a shop of your choice, or to a shop that Lemonade has had positive experiences with in the past. If your car is undriveable, we can help you get it towed there.   

3. Pay your deductible

If your comprehensive car insurance claim is approved, you may still need to pay your deductible, depending on the details of your policy. A deductible is essentially your contribution to the claim. 

Comprehensive insurance deductibles can range from $100 to $1,000, and the average US driver has a $500 deductible.

4. Get your reimbursement

If in this scenario the flood damage to your car totals $5,000 and your comprehensive coverage deductible is $500, you’ll get reimbursed the remaining $4,500 for a covered incident. 

And if your car is deemed a total loss from the flood damage, you’ll get reimbursed for its actual cash value, which accounts for depreciation over time.

Is comprehensive insurance worth it?

It depends.

When deciding if it’s worth having comprehensive insurance coverage, consider some factors about your personal circumstances, including:

  • Where you live
  • The age and value of your car
  • How high of a deductible you choose
  • How often you use your car
  • Your savings

If the cost of a major repair, or fully replacing your car, is out of your comfort zone to pay out-of-pocket,  you’ll definitely want to consider including comprehensive coverage on your policy. 

Is there a comprehensive deductible if I file an insurance claim?

If your car got damaged during a natural disaster, or in any of the awful or unfortunate scenarios described above, the last thing you want to think about is whether you have the money to cover your comprehensive deductible. 

If you are in a state that offers a zero dollar insurance deductible amount for comprehensive coverage, you won’t have anything to worry about in the event of a so-called “act of god.” Your insurer will either fix your car, or offer you a payout for the value of your car, without any out-of-pocket expenses on your end. 

How much does comprehensive insurance cost?

Your comprehensive coverage likely won’t cost as much as collision coverage or liability insurance. But keep in mind—if you don’t live in a state that has zero deductible rules for comprehensive coverage—that the deductible level you choose will make an impact on your monthly premium. As a general rule, you are charged relative to the level of financial responsibility you take.  A higher deductible means you have greater responsibility for your losses.

What’s the difference between comprehensive and collision insurance?

Both comprehensive and collision insurance are important supplements to the standard liability coverage your state requires you to have, and they cover different types of incidents. Collision insurance is coverage that helps pay to repair or replace your own car if it’s damaged in an accident with another vehicle, or a stationary object (like a fence, highway divider, and so on).

We’ll break down some common scenarios to show which insurance coverage could come to the rescue in case you need to file a claim.  

When your car gets damaged from a covered accident, these coverages may help pay for the repairs needed to get your car back into pre-accident condition. In the event of a total loss, they may compensate you for the actual cash value of your car.

In a covered claim…Comprehensive InsuranceCollision Insurance
You hit another car, which damaged your carNoYes
You got distracted while driving and ended up in a ditchNoYes
You lost control of your vehicle and hit a guardrailNoYes
Someone else hit you, but they don’t have enough insurance to cover the full cost of repairs to your carNoYes
You’re the victim of a hit-and-runNoYes
Someone keyed your car in a parking lotYesNo
You’re the victim of vandalism after someone shattered your windowYesNo
You hit an animal (like a deer)YesNo
Your car was stolenYesNo
Your car was damaged by a natural disaster (hail, flood, etc)YesNo
Your car was hit by a falling object (like a tree)YesNo

What’s ‘full coverage’?

Full coverage car insurance is a combination of insurance coverages designed to ‘fully’ cover you in the event of an accident. This would include coverages that aren’t legally required, but that would give you extra peace of mind in many different scenarios. 

It’s important to understand that it doesn’t mean you’re covered for everything, nor does it guarantee your claim will be approved. Full coverage car insurance combines various coverage options and endorsements to fully cover you up to any applicable limits you selected. It’s a single policy you build with your insurance company to provide the best combination of coverage for you.

If you want to feel fully covered by your Lemonade Car policy, your coverage could include a combination of comprehensive and collision insurance, in addition to bodily injury, property damage, temporary transportation coverage, and extended glass coverage.

Keep in mind that deductibles will apply for most of these coverages, and you’ll only be covered up to the liability limits you set. 

FAQs about comprehensive coverage

Is it better to have collision or comprehensive coverage?

The choice between collision and comprehensive coverage ultimately depends on your needs. Collision covers accidents with other vehicles or inanimate objects, while comprehensive covers non-collision damage. Both provide important protections based on different risk factors, and, in fact, most drivers opt for both kinds of coverage.

Can comprehensive car insurance be purchased separately from other types of car insurance?

Yes, comprehensive car insurance can often be purchased separately. It’s an optional coverage that you can add to your policy depending on your specific needs and the level of risk you want to mitigate. 

Is it better to have a $500 deductible or a $1000 deductible?

Choosing between a $500 and $1000 deductible ultimately depends on your financial situation and risk preferences. A lower deductible means you’ll pay less out-of-pocket if you file a claim but face higher monthly premiums. Conversely, a higher deductible reduces your monthly premiums but increases your out-of-pocket expenses when you do file a claim. It’s all about which costs you’re more comfortable handling when.

A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage may not be available in all states.

Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.