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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

How Comprehensive is Comprehensive Coverage?

 By Catherine Powell

If you own or lease a car, you’re no doubt familiar with auto insurance.  What you might not be familiar with is how the various components of your auto policy works.  Collision coverage obviously takes care of damage done in a single or multi-car collision.  Personal Injury Protection, otherwise known as PIP, is there to help pay your medical bills after a crash has occurred. The liability portion of your policy takes care of property damage, as well as the medical expenses and lost wages of the other party if you’re deemed to be at fault.  So, what does that leave for the comprehensive potion of your policy to cover? .

1.      Is comprehensive coverage mandatory? – In Florida , drivers are required to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability Coverage (PDL).  That means that comprehensive and collision coverage is optional. Before you choose to opt out of comprehensive coverage, below is what you’ll be giving up.

2.      Where’s my car dude? – If you’ve ever come out of your home, your office or the mall only to discover that your car was either broken into or stolen outright, then you’ll appreciate the fact that comprehensive coverage covers theft.  Whether the theft involves the car itself, components such as tires, airbags, entertainment systems or that laptop computer you left lying on the passenger seat, you’re covered, minus your deductible.  While some people eliminate the comprehensive coverage on older cars, due to their negligible market value, as you’ll see below, this can prove to be a costly omission.

3.      Breakage can add up quickly on today’s vehicles. – If you’re driving down the highway and a truck kicks up a stone that cracks your windshield, comprehensive coverage will pay to replace it.  If the same stone shatters one of your vehicle’s headlights, this too is a covered claim (Today the cost to replace some headlights can run $1,000 or more.)  If you pass beneath a low hanging limb only to have the satellite antenna ripped off the roof of your car, this is a covered claim.

4.      Are the barbarians at the gates? – If you’ve ever had your vehicle ransacked or your car keyed, then you can appreciate the fact that vandalism is one sure way to take the joy out of your pride and joy.  If you chose to carry comprehensive coverage, the cost to repair the damage or repaint the affected areas would be covered by your insurer, minus the deductible.

5.      Have you experienced that sinking feeling? – Park your car in a low-lying area when a sever thunderstorm occurs or drive it down the off-ramp when a flash flood bubbles up and you may quickly turn your vehicle into a submarine.  Depending on the depth of the water, a flooded vehicle may or may not be worth the price to salvage it.  If your vehicle were ever to flood, could you afford to repair or replace it?  If you carry comprehensive coverage, your insurer will pay to repair it or pay you the value of your vehicle, minus the deductible.  On top of covering your vehicle for flood damage, comprehensive coverage also insures the vehicle against other acts of God, including tornadoes, earthquakes, windstorms, and hail.

6.      What happens if your vehicle gets burnt up in a fire? – If you’ve checked the newsfeeds lately, you’ll notice that wildfires are still burning in the western portion of the US.  Those of you who’ve lived in the Sunshine State for several decades will no doubt recall the wildfires that ravaged Florida in 1998.  Not only did the fires cause billions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses, they also totaled a number of cars.  If the owners of those vehicles had no comprehensive coverage, they were on their own to repair or replace vehicles that were either damaged or destroyed by the wildfires.  So too are car owners whose vehicles catch fire on the road or are destroyed when a house-fire burns up the garage in which it’s stored.  On the other hand, car owners who carry comprehensive coverage are covered.

7.      Oh Deer! – If you’ve ever struck a deer or some other large animal with your vehicle, then you know it can cause major damage to your vehicle, not to mention injure you or your passengers.  If you’ve ever swerved to miss an animal that crossed paths with your vehicle, only to lose control, you know that when nature and cars collide, the results are not always pretty.  More importantly, if you carried comprehensive coverage, you also know that any damage that was done to your vehicle was covered by your insurance company.

8.      Unrest & Insurrection – While it’s unlikely you will ever inadvertently drive through a war zone with your vehicle, that doesn’t mean that unrest and insurrection can’t occur right before your very eyes.  Should you suddenly turn your vehicle down a road where a riot breaks out, it’s likely that your car could be damaged by rocks, turned over by an unruly mob or even set on fire.  If you declined to add comprehensive coverage to your policy, guess who gets to pay for the damage?  You do. 

9.      The sky really is falling! – If the cargo door on a passenger jet flying overhead were suddenly to fall off or pop open and the door or the contents of the cargo hold were to fall 10,000 feet to hit your car, you’ll be glad you opted to keep the comprehensive coverage on your vehicle.  If a thunderstorm snaps a limb off a tree only to hurl it through the passenger window of your vehicle, all it will cost you to repair the damage is your deductible, even if the rain that came through the window ruined your upholstery and shorted out everything in the dashboard.

10.  5, 4, 3, 2, 1…BOOM! – If your car exploded due to an incendiary device or because a fire reached the gas tank, those who carry comprehensive coverage are covered.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at


  1. It's amazing how the prices of simple auto repairs has skyrocketed. $1,000 to change a light bulb? Where do I get that job?

  2. I guess comprensive can be a misnormer. Not all insurnace policies are equal. The devil is in the details.


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