If you live in an area prone to car theft and vandalism, you'll probably sleep easier with comprehensive coverage at your side. Though car theft numbers have steadily decreased over the last several years in the U.S. — actually dipping below 700,000 reported cases in 2013 for the first time since 1967, and remaining at those levels the years following — the odds are still less than encouraging.
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Susan was driving home from Thanksgiving dinner at her family cottage when suddenly she hit a deer. Thankfully she was okay, but her car was destroyed. She called the police to make an accident report, then called her insurance worried that this might not be fully covered. Her insurance representative reassured her, she has comprehensive insurance, so the damage would be covered under her policy.
No states require comprehensive coverage, but those who finance or lease their car will probably find that their lender or lessee requires it. Lenders and lessees are the official owners of the vehicle, so they want to make sure they're adequately protected in case of an incident. For the same reasons, you'll rarely be able to buy comprehensive insurance without also purchasing bodily injury liability and collision coverages.
Making a claim with “the other driver’s” insurance company? That’s a third-party claim. Driving a company car and sustain an injury? You’re making a third-party claim there, too. Injured while driving your own car in the course of your job? A third-party claim with your employer’s insurance company would be your mechanism for recovery of medical and repair costs. Any claim made to an insurance company other than your own is considered a third-party claim.
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While State Farm's shopping experience is well-reviewed, customers did not feel as strongly about it's claims handling process. The company scored about the same as the other four large companies, but was still mediocre. A large national company may be expected to not be very efficient because of the various departments involved in handling individual claims. If you want the assurances guaranteed to you by a large, "legacy" carrier, then State Farm is the best to go with.
In third-party car accident claims where fault is in dispute, lengthy investigations can be the norm. Insurance adjusters will investigate the claim thoroughly, often hiring outside parties to conduct interviews, take statement and review any and all records (medical or otherwise) pertaining to the case. You may even need to attend an independent medical examination. The adjuster will then make his or her own determination as to fault and the settlement value of the case.
If your car is worth more than $3,000 and/or is less than 10 years old, we'd also suggest both collision and comprehensive coverage, too. Our estimates suggest drivers can buy comprehensive and collision insurance for an average of $600 to $700 per year (however, the cost may be higher for some cars), so you would spend $3,000 to $3,500 in premiums over five years. If your car is currently worth less than $3,000, you will have spent more on insurance than your car is worth. You can obtain the estimated value of your car from sites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds. Once you have both the value and a quote for coverage, you can determine whether collision insurance will be worth it.
Comprehensive insurance is a coverage that helps pay to replace or repair your vehicle if it's stolen or damaged in an incident that's not a collision. Comprehensive typically covers damage from fire, vandalism or falling objects (like a tree or hail). If you're financing or leasing your car, your lender likely requires comprehensive coverage. If you own your vehicle outright, it's an optional coverage on your car insurance policy.