Emily parked her car on the street outside a friend's building, during her visit the weather got bad, and she decided to stay the night instead of head home in the storm. The next morning when Emily went to leave she noticed the roof and hood of her car had huge welts in it. She figured it must have been caused by hail during the storm. She contacted her insurance company and they reassured her the loss would be taken care of by the comprehensive insurance coverage she selected when buying her policy although she would need to pay her $500 insurance deductible first.
Let's use the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy as an example to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two events that might have happened: 1) a heavy tree branch fell on your car, or 2) you swerved to avoid a falling tree branch and wound up crashing into a tree. In the first event, you had no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and ultimately swerved into the tree, which makes it a collision, and collision insurance therefore pays for the damages. Events like the hypothetical ones stated above are why it's important to differentiate between the two types of coverage.
How much you pay for comprehensive insurance coverage is determined differently than for basic coverages like property damage and personal injury liability. With those coverages, the amount of protection you buy dictates the cost. The cost of comprehensive insurance coverage, on the other hand, varies depending on the deductible you select. The higher the deductible, the less you'll spend on your premium — but the more you'll spend out of pocket if you file a claim.
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.
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 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.
Our data shows that 7% of Progressive drivers with comprehensive coverage have a comprehensive claim in a given year, and the average repair is about $1,400. Without comprehensive, that's how much you may have to pay out of pocket. Keep in mind, repair costs can vary widely based on your damage and how much your car is worth. Typically more expensive cars cost more to repair.