What is Comprehensive Auto Insurance?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 3:23pm
hail damage on car

Last week I discussed What is Collision Auto Insurance.  I find many people have a relatively decent understanding of collision coverage.  Comprehensive coverage, however, tends to give people more trouble.  This week I am going to breakdown comprehensive coverage, discuss what it is and also what it is not.

Many insurance companies are beginning to refer to comprehensive coverage as "other-than-collision" coverage.  They do this in an attempt to make sense of this insurance.  And that is what comprehensive coverage is.  It covers damage to your vehicle (except wear and tear) that does not fall into the "collision" category.  Think of comprehensive coverage as being caused by acts of nature.  Let's look at three categories of comprehensive coverage; weather, animals, and miscellaneous.


When you think of acts of nature, the weather is often the first to come to mind.  Comprehensive insurance covers your from acts of nature, and this includes weather.  In Oklahoma, the most common comprehensive claim is hail damage.  

I used to file comprehensive claims on wildfires as well.  If the car catches fire (pending intentionally setting fire to your car), then comprehensive coverage will apply.  It is considered an act of nature.

I once filed a claim for a client who lost his door to his car because the wind was so strong.  He began to open the car door, and the wind ripped it right off the vehicle.


The second aspect of nature is animals.  Animals can damage your vehicle two ways.  First, through body damage if the vehicle hits the animal.  Second, through hungry rodents and wires.  Both scenarios fall under comprehensive coverage.

The most common animal claim filed is deer accidents.  We see deer crossing signs all the time.  Animals cross the highway, and a car is traveling at a high rate of speed, the animal is stunned by the lights and BOOM!  The next thing you know you have collided with a deer or cow in the road.  This situation is an example of a rare time that colliding with an object would be considered comprehensive.  This is an exception to the collision rule.  It is difficult to remember because it is an exception, so try and remember Animal=Comprehensive.

Rodents can also create a lot of damage to your vehicle.  Rats and raccoons will often climb under the hoods of cars and chew on the engine wiring and tubes.  This is especially true for cars that are left out and not driven very often.  In this scenario, the damage to the wiring would be considered comprehensive.


Finally, there are miscellaneous claims that fall under comprehensive.  The most common one that I know of is shopping cart damage.  People in the grocery store parking lot are not always attentive to where they park their shopping carts after use.  These carts often end up rolling down a hill or simply getting pushed into parked cars.  This leaves the parked car with damage from the shopping cart.  The insurance companies consider this type of claim to be comprehensive.

It often is too difficult, if not impossible, to determine what caused the shopping cart to begin to roll.  Damage caused by shopping carts are often minor and inexpensive to repair.  For these reasons, the insurance companies often decide to lump them into the comprehensive category.

To conclude this article, I would like to talk about some non-comprehensive claims that I have worked in the past that may surprise you.  The first was regarding a pothole in the street.  The driver was driving at night down the highway and hit a pothole.  This damaged the chassis and undercarriage of the car.  It bent the wheel well and caused a lot of structural damage.  The client called in expecting this to be filed a comprehensive.  It was not; this was an at-fault collision claim.  The driver collided with the pothole in the street.  The road nor the vehicle are natural, and mother nature did not cause the accident.  So this is a collision claim.

The second claim that surprise people are a bit of a sad scenario.  When you swerve to avoid an animal in the road, and as a result, you hit another object, it is a collision claim.  If a rabbit or raccoon runs out in the street and you hit the animal, it is comprehensive.  If you swerve and hit a tree, it is an at-fault collision.  For this reason, it is essential you are aware of your surroundings.  Remember collision with a deer or cow can be just as fatal to a driver as colliding with a tree.  Both are very dangerous, so make sure you are always driving carefully and know what is around you, even out of the street.

Comprehensive and collision coverage are handled very differently by the insurance company.  When an accident does happen to ask yourself, "was this caused by mother nature?"  That will help you determine if the claim is comprehensive or collision.  If you are in doubt, always talk with your agent.  They are there to help educate you so that you can make an informed decision when handling your insurance.

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