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What is comprehensive car insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance covers non-collision damage to your vehicle. In most cases, this coverage addresses threats that are beyond the control of the driver (and other drivers on the road). This includes minor damages, like a chipped windshield caused by hail, as well as larger issues, like body damage caused by an earthquake.

Though auto insurance is mandatory in Canada, having comprehensive coverage is optional. It may, however, by required by your lender if your vehicle is leased.

If you own your vehicle outright, or are not obliged to get comprehensive coverage as part of your lease agreement, there are several factors to consider when contemplating whether it is a necessary protection. Chief among these considerations is location: do you regularly drive or park your vehicle places that face non-driving perils.

For example, in Yukon, northern Alberta and northwestern Ontario, wildfires are a frequent occurrence that pose a threat to your vehicle. When you have comprehensive coverage, you’ll be covered if such an event damages your car.

What does comprehensive insurance cover?

A standard comprehensive insurance policy covers damage to your vehicle from:

  • Hail
  • Floods
  • Lightning from thunderstorms
  • Falling objects, such as tree branches or rocks
  • Fire or explosions
  • Hitting an animal
  • Theft
  • Earthquakes
  • Vandalism

Not all comprehensive insurance policies will include this entire roster of protections. Some policies explicitly exclude damages from certain sources.

Check for policy exclusions

Some comprehensive auto insurance policies may feature exclusions. For example, protection against wildfires may not be included if the driver lives in a particularly high-risk area.

Exclusions of this nature are not too common, but they do illustrate the necessity of scrutinizing any comprehensive policy offered by an insurance provider.

What is not covered under comprehensive car insurance?

A standard comprehensive car insurance policy does not protect against collision related damage, even those in which you are not found to be at fault. For example, if another driver hits your parked vehicle, the resulting cost would be covered by a collision coverage policy, not a comprehensive policy.

How to choose your comprehensive car insurance deductible

When choosing a comprehensive car insurance policy, a common question is where to set your deductible. A higher deductible will lower your insurance premiums but also means you’ll pay more out-of-pocket for each claim.

For example, imagine your car is damaged by vandalism during a riot. The total damage amounts to $800. With a $500 deductible, your insurer will cover only $300 in damages, leaving you to pay the rest.

Please note, you are not required to pay any deductible for damages caused by fire, lighting or the complete theft of your vehicle, in any province except Ontario and Quebec.

Differences between comprehensive coverage and collision coverage

Collision coverage protects against any damage that may occur from a collision with another vehicle or object, such as a wall. In contrast, comprehensive insurance covers damages caused by things like theft, hail and earthquakes.

Here’s a breakdown of the major differences between comprehensive car insurance and collision car insurance in Canada.

Comprehensive insurance vs. collision insurance


Comprehensive coverage

Collision coverage

What's Covered

Non-collision damage to your vehicle, such as:

·       Theft

·       Falling objects

·       Fire

·       Floods

·       Earthquakes

Damages caused by collisions, such as:

·       Collision with another vehicle

·       Collision with an object, such as a wall or fence

·       Single-car rollover accidents

Deductible involved



Coverage limit

Actual cash value

Actual cash value

Is it mandatory?

Not mandatory, but may be required by a lender if the vehicle is leased.

Not mandatory, but recommended. Collision insurance comes in handy if someone hits you and the cost to repair or replace your car exceeds the limits of that person’s liability policy.

What's not covered

·       Damage to another person's vehicle

·       Medical bills (personal and third party bills)

·       External object inside your car that are unattached, like laptops, bags etc.

·       Damage to another person's vehicle

·       Medical bills (personal and third party bills)

Frequently asked questions about comprehensive car insurance

Wondering whether you should get comprehensive car insurance? Here’s what you should know.

Does comprehensive car insurance provide full coverage?

Though the name may imply that comprehensive coverage leaves nothing to chance, this type of coverage is not just another way of saying ‘full coverage.’ Comprehensive coverage protects against non-collision damage only. Other types of car insurance coverage include:

  • Accident coverage – mandatory in Canada
  • Third-party liability coverage – mandatory in Canada
  • Uninsured motorist coverage – mandatory in all provinces except Alberta
  • Collision coverage – optional

To protect your vehicle against all perils, each of these coverages is required.

How do I know if I need comprehensive insurance?

If you’re wondering whether you should get comprehensive car insurance or not, ask yourself these important questions:

  • What is the value of your car?
  • Could you afford to fix or replace your car if something happened to it?
  • How often is your vehicle exposed to non-collision risks, such as fire and theft?

If your car’s overall value is low (i.e. under $2,000), having a comprehensive insurance policy in place may not be worth it, as it may be more economical to replace your car than repair it.

If the value of your car is high and you want to be covered for non-collision damages, having comprehensive car insurance is a good idea. Especially, if your vehicle faces increased risk from disastrous weather conditions, theft, fire, etc.

Does comprehensive auto insurance cover rodent damage?

Rodents, such as rats, squirrels and raccoons, can damage parked vehicles by chewing wires and blowing up fuses, leading to high repair costs. But worry not, rodent damage is covered under most comprehensive car insurance policies. Speak with your insurer to get more details about rodent damage coverage.

Is hail damage covered by comprehensive car insurance?

Yes, comprehensive car insurance covers hail damage. A severe hail storm can significantly damage your vehicle’s body, leaving large dents and chips on your car.

If the damage is greater than your deductible, filing a claim may be worthwhile. For example, if your deductible is $500 and the hail damage amounts to $1,500, filing a claim will save you $1,000.

Can you have comprehensive insurance without collision insurance?

Yes, you can have comprehensive car insurance without collision insurance, or vice versa. These are two mutually exclusive types of car insurance, both optional rather than mandatory. You should pick the type(s) of optional car insurance coverage you need depending on your location, vehicle value and driving habits. Some people opt for full coverage car insurance (all coverages), while others try to save money by only choosing the coverage they’ll most likely need.

What do I need to make a comprehensive car insurance claim?

Comprehensive car insurance claims are similar to collision insurance claims. To start off your claim, call your insurance provider. Gather and submit the following information to ensure that your claim is approved.

  • Damage reports
  • Photos/videos
  • Relevant contact information
  • Date and time of incident
  • Police reports

A claims adjuster will investigate the claim to determine the amount covered under your policy. Once approved, the insurance company will subtract your deductible from your claim amount and reimburse you the difference.

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