Comprehensive auto insurance has a head-scratching name because it’s far from “comprehensive.” It pays for a very specific set of problems. If you have a car loan, your lender likely requires it.
And if your car is paid off, you likely want it even if you’re an excellent driver. That’s because comprehensive coverage pays for problems that have nothing to do with the quality of your driving. It even pays for things that can happen to your car while it’s sitting in the driveway.
What Is Comprehensive Car Insurance?
Comprehensive car insurance pays to repair your vehicle or pays you the value of the vehicle if it’s a total loss because of a problem covered under the comprehensive coverage portion of your car insurance policy.
A car insurance deductible is an amount deducted from an insurance claim cheque. Say you make a comprehensive claim for hail damage that costs $3,500 to repair. If you have a $500 deductible, you would receive $3,000 as your payout. Alternatively, if you use a preferred repair shop that your insurance company pays directly, your deductible is the amount you will need to pay out of pocket when you pick up your car.
What Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover?
The types of problems covered by comprehensive car insurance include:
- Car theft
- Windshield and glass damage.
- Collisions with an animal, such as a deer.
- Severe weather, including hail or high winds.
- Falling objects
- Fire and explosions.
- Civil disturbances, such as a riot.
- Damage caused by rodents.
What Does Comprehensive Insurance Not Cover?
|What comprehensive insurance doesn’t cover||What type of car insurance covers it|
|Crash with another vehicle or object||Collision insurance|
|Injuries you cause to people in other vehicles||Liability insurance|
|Damage you cause to other people’s vehicles or property||Liability insurance|
What if My Car Is Stolen From a Parking Lot?
Comprehensive car insurance pays out for car theft if your vehicle isn’t recovered, even if you left your keys in the car.
Maybe you leave your car running for the air conditioning while you pop into a convenience store. Whatever the reason, your vehicle can become an effortless win for a thief.
If your car is stolen and later recovered with damages, your comprehensive insurance will pay for repairs up to the cash value of your car, minus the deductible.
On average, a car is stolen every six minutes in Canada, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. The Honda CR-V, Lexus RX Series and the Ford F150 Series trucks top the list of the top 10 most stolen vehicles of 2021, according to the Équité Association, an anti-insurance fraud and crime not-for-profit.
What if Someone Keys My Car?
Damage from a keyed car is considered vandalism and would fall under comprehensive coverage.
The same would be true if you came out and found that your car had been spray-painted or otherwise intentionally vandalized. Having a police report on the incident can help when filing a car insurance claim for vandalism.
What About an Animal That Runs Into the Road?
Hitting a deer is a classic example of an animal collision that’s covered by comprehensive insurance. Animals of all sizes, such as wild turkeys and dogs, can dart into the road in front of you and cause car damage.
Comprehensive coverage pays for your vehicle damage if you strike an animal, minus the amount of your deductible. If you swerve to miss the animal and hit a tree, that would be covered by collision coverage, not comprehensive insurance.
What if My Car Is Damaged in a Tornado?
Comprehensive insurance covers weather-related damage, such as tornado and wind damage. It also pays for hail damage to a car.
What if Something Crushes My Car Roof?
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle caused by falling objects, such as tree branches that squash your car or debris that hits your car due to high winds.
What if My Car Is Washed Away in a Flood?
Comprehensive insurance covers a vehicle’s flood damage, either for repairs or the value of the vehicle if it’s totalled.
People who experience devastating flooding are often focused on drying out and repairing their houses. That’s understandable, as houses are a much bigger investment than cars. But flood waters often wash away vehicles, too.
Even driving into a large “puddle” that’s deeper than you thought can result in vehicle damage, and would be covered by comprehensive car insurance.
Do I Need Comprehensive Car Insurance?
While comprehensive car insurance is not mandatory in most provinces (except in Saskatchewan and Manitoba), if you have a car loan or lease, your lender or leasing company will likely require you to have both collision and comprehensive insurance.
But even if you aren’t required to have comprehensive car insurance, you may want to buy it if you can’t afford to pay out of pocket to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged due to problems like vandalism, falling objects, severe weather or fire—or it’s stolen.
Is Comprehensive Coverage Worth It?
You can weigh the cost of the insurance vs. the potential payout to decide if comprehensive coverage is worth it.
- Covers your car if it gets damaged in ways beyond crashing into another vehicle, such as falling objects, fires and vandalism.
- Pays you the value of your vehicle if it’s stolen.
- Pays for windshield and glass repair and replacement.
- Plays an important role if you own a newer vehicle that will need expensive repairs if it’s damaged.
- Adds to your car insurance costs.
- Might not be needed for an older car of little value.
What’s the Difference Between Comprehensive Insurance and Collision Insurance?
Collision car insurance pays out if your vehicle is damaged in a car accident. It’s often paired with comprehensive coverage. They’re similar in that they pay to repair your vehicle and both have a deductible if you file a claim.
The cause of your vehicle damage determines whether comprehensive or collision insurance will pay out. While collision covers your car’s damage following a crash with another vehicle or an object, such as a pole, comprehensive coverage pays for other damage, such as falling tree limbs, striking an animal, vandalism and fire.
Examples of car insurance claims
|Car insurance claim||Covered by comprehensive insurance?||Covered by collision insurance?|
|You crash your car into another car||No||Yes|
|You crash your car into a pole||No||Yes|
|A tree branch falls on your car||Yes||No|
|Someone steals your car||Yes||No|
|You strike a deer||Yes||No|
|Your car is damaged in a flood||Yes||No|
|Your car is vandalized||Yes||No|
How Much Does Comprehensive Car Coverage Cost?
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) using exhibits from the General Insurance Statistical Agency, the average annual cost of comprehensive insurance in 2020 was $140.16. This is in addition to the mandatory insurance requirements, including third-party liability and accident benefits.
Comprehensive coverage is usually paired with collision coverage. IBC reported that the average cost of collision insurance in 2020 was $178.72 per year.
The exact cost of car insurance varies depending on many factors, including the vehicle, your driving record, where you live and your deductible amount.
What Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover FAQs
Can you just have comprehensive insurance?
No. Third-party liability and accident benefits insurance is mandatory across Canada. Most provinces also require uninsured automobile coverage and direct compensation property damage coverage. Comprehensive, along with collision, all perils and specified perils are optional.
Do I need comprehensive insurance on an old car?
You may not need optional coverage types like comprehensive and collision insurance if you have an older car that isn’t worth much. When you factor in the insurance costs and the deductible, you might end up paying more in premiums over several years than what you would get if you file a car insurance claim.
Is comprehensive insurance required by law?
No, comprehensive car insurance isn’t required by law. But if you have a car loan or lease, you are likely required to carry both collision and comprehensive insurance.