Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Jul 12, 2021

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Comprehensive car insurance, also called OTC (“other than collision”) coverage, or “comp,” is a type of coverage available on most vehicles that takes care of damage to a vehicle caused by things besides a wreck.

Some examples of things covered by comp are fire, theft, flood, or broken glass from falling objects. Comprehensive coverage takes over where collision leaves off, giving you total protection on your vehicle from most situations.

Comprehensive coverage is, indeed, the most complete coverage you can buy for your vehicle.

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Comprehensive coverage is generally required for cars which are financed or leased from a lender. The lender wants to ensure that no matter what happens, the car will remain in good condition until it is paid off.

Because of this, you may not be able to get financing if you do not choose comprehensive coverage.

Once the vehicle is paid off, you can decide if you want to continue comprehensive coverage or allow it to lapse. If you allow your comprehensive coverage to lapse prior to the vehicle being paid off, the lender may cover the vehicle for you and assess you with extra costs on your payment.

Do you need Comprehensive Auto Insurance Coverage?

If your vehicle is paid off, and you are thinking about whether to purchase comprehensive insurance, you may want to consider the age and condition of your vehicle.

A brand-new car or truck with few miles on it will obviously be much more expensive to replace than an old car which already has some body damage or other problems.

If you have a new vehicle which is not financed, you may still choose to purchase comprehensive coverage just in case your vehicle is damaged.

Comprehensive insurance has a flexible deductible, just like the other components of your policy. By setting this deductible relatively high, you can save a good bit on the premiums for your comprehensive insurance. A good rule of thumb is to increase the deductible every year you own the car, as the value of the vehicle goes down.

For example, you might start with a $500 comprehensive deductible for a new car, and add $100 to the deductible every year for the next five years, ultimately having a $1000 deductible on the comprehensive insurance.

At that point, it is time to assess if you need comprehensive insurance on your car at all. If the car is only worth a few hundred dollars at that point, it does not make sense to pay a $1000 deductible if the car is damaged or stolen.

However, if the car is in relatively good shape and worth more money, it might make sense to keep the comprehensive coverage with a relatively high deductible.

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How much is Comprehensive Car Insurance?

Your cost for comprehensive insurance will be decided based on a number of factors outside of the value of the car itself. If you live in an urban area, where car theft is far more common, your comprehensive rates will be higher.

If you live in a part of the country where natural disasters happen more frequently, such as hurricanes on the Gulf or Atlantic coasts or tornados and hailstorms in the Midwest, you may be required to pay more for comprehensive.

In general, comprehensive insurance costs are based on many of the same factors as other insurance costs, so where one is expensive, the other will probably be also.

Many people wonder if they truly need comprehensive coverage. As with any insurance, your cost for the policy must be balanced with the likelihood of an event that would require you to use the coverage.

Since it is impossible to predict most of the events associated with comprehensive coverage, some people feel it is worth the extra money.

Others believe that the chances of some of these events happening are so slight that the extra cost is not necessary. Much of this depends on your location, circumstances, and other factors.

If you live in a low-crime small town, and your car is garaged every night, it is highly unlikely it will be stolen or broken into. On the other hand, if you park on the street in a busy city every night, the chances that your car might be vandalized are much higher.

If you talk to your insurance agent, he or she is probably going to want you to err on the side of caution and get comprehensive insurance, even if your chances of need it are slim.

After all, insurance agents get commissions on what they sell, not what they advise their clients not to buy. However, an ethical and reputable agent will outline your options and help you make the right decision for your particular circumstances.

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