Comprehensive insurance, when applied to auto insurance in the United States, is insurance which offers a level of cover that covers a large range of risk possibilities. Unlike automobile liability insurance which is the minimum level of coverage that is required by most states, comprehensive insurance is not limited to 3rd party damage coverage and includes protection for you and your vehicle, in case of fire, theft, etc.
What does automobile liability insurance mean?
Automobile liability insurance covers you for damage to 3rd parties, in respect of both people and property; your insurer will pay benefits based on claims for either.
What does comprehensive insurance offer in addition to automobile liability insurance?
The exact additional benefits of comprehensive insurance vary depending on the policy but in general terms, your comprehensive insurance may cover some or all of the following scenarios:
- Fire – if your car were to catch fire or be damaged in a fire, a comprehensive insurance policy would typically offer some form of benefit for the repairs or replacement of the damaged vehicle
- Theft (or attempted theft) – while it is recommended that you install an anti-theft recovery device for lower insurance premiums, and a better chance of having your vehicle recovered if it is stolen, theft coverage will protect you in case of the loss of the vehicle. In the case of attempted theft, the policy covers you against damage incurred to the car during the attempt.
- Vandalism – if your car is damaged through an act of vandalism this coverage ensures that your insurance company will pay towards the repairs.
- Animal Collision – animal collisions are often excluded from automobile liability insurance coverage, and you will need comprehensive insurance to offset this risk. This is particularly important to drivers in rural and/or farming communities.
- Weather – severe weather conditions can result in damage to cars and vehicles, and most comprehensive insurance policies pay benefits in this instance.
- Force Majeure (“Acts of God”) – many major insurers will provide insurance against incidents that are outside of human control as part of their comprehensive insurance offerings. This means that in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, flood, hurricane, tropical storm, tsunami, etc. you will be protected by the insurer against the loss of your vehicle or any damage caused to that vehicle by the event.
If you are unsure about your current level of comprehensive insurance coverage you should review your insurance contract or contact your insurer to determine what level of protection you receive.
(To read more about comprehensive insurance outside of our glossary, please read our more detailed article on the subject.)