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Matt Hands, VP, Insurance and MoneySense
Comprehensive car insurance protects your vehicle from risks unrelated to a collision such as theft, fire, or vandalism. It is an optional form of coverage that exists to protect your vehicle when you are not operating it.
For example, if your car was stolen, vandalized, then later found and returned to you, you could make a comprehensive insurance claim with your insurance provider to cover the cost of any repairs.
Taking from the example above, comprehensive car insurance covers:
- Theft and vandalism
- Weather (e.g. lightning, windstorm, hail, etc.)
- Fire, earthquake, explosion
- Falling or flying objects (e.g. rock or gravel)
Comprehensive insurance not only covers the cost of repairs, but can give you a cash settlement if your car is a total write-off. You can insure your car for the actual cash value or the replacement cost of the vehicle. Cash value payouts will account for depreciation, so it's the cheaper comprehensive insurance option.
Comprehensive insurance will not cover you for:
- Damage to your car from a collision with another vehicle or object on the road
- Medical expenses or lost income for you or your passengers after an accident
- Damage to another person’s car from a collision
- Medical expenses, lost income or legal fees for another person after an accident
Most of these are covered by other mandated minimums on your car insurance policy including accident benefits and third-party liability. If you want insurance to pay for repairs to your car following a collision, you need to add on collision insurance to your policy.
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When you’re ready to buy, renew, or modify a car insurance policy, you can do so in-person or over the phone. You can communicate your desires and wishes at a bank/credit union, directly with your insurance company, or with an insurance broker - essentially from whomever you've purchased car insurance from. If you haven’t already done so, we always suggest you start by comparing car insurance quotes online to make sure you're getting the best price for car insurance.
If you’re on the fence about buying comprehensive insurance, ask yourself two questions:
- What is the value of your car?
- Could you afford to fix or replace your car if something happened to it?
If your car is older and not worth much (i.e. under $2,000), you may find it’s not worth having a comprehensive insurance policy in place, and decide you’d rather replace it with something newer and safer if it was damaged.
In the event that something happens to your car, it's possible you don't use comprehensive insurance if the damage is less than your deductible. So, it really depends on how much you think your vehicle is worth, and if you have the money to cover any damages yourself. You may also want the peace of mind of knowing your vehicle has coverage against risks while it's parked.
Comprehensive insurance claims require you to pay a deductible. The deductibles are typically available at $300, $500 and $1,000. Remember, the higher the deductible you choose, the lower your car insurance premiums will cost. For one, you’re telling your insurance company that you’d be happy to pay more if something actually happened to your car. It also means you won't be filing any small claims.
For example, let’s say there was a bad storm and a large tree branch fell on your car while it was parked in your driveway. The total damage done to your vehicle added up to $3,000. If you had a $500 deductible listed in your policy, your insurance company would cover the remaining $2,500 in getting your car repaired as soon as possible.
(Alternatively, if your car was only worth $3,000, you could pay the deductible and get a cash settlement for the rest, to help you buy your next car.)
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Matt Hands, Business Director of Insurance
With 6+ years of experience at Ratehub.ca, Matt’s focus has been on growing its newest business unit, Insurance. He is a thought leader and a valuable resource to respected publications across Canada. read full bio
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