windshield wipers on a Jeep

Comprehensive insurance is a car insurance policy that covers certain damages to your vehicle that are not caused by a collision with another car. It is required on leased vehicles, and on vehicles that are currently being paid for by a loan. Comprehensive auto insurance is supplementary, meaning it’s an optional coverage which can be added to an insurance policy. For maximum protection, you can pair comprehensive coverage with liability and collision coverage, or choose classic car insurance that provides flexible usage and coverage designed specifically for classic cars.

If you're wondering "What is comprehensive insurance going to do for me?" Here’s an example: you’re dashing out of your house for work in the morning and as you’re opening the driver’s side door of your car, you realize a baseball-sized chunk of hail has crashed through your windshield. You think to yourself, all windshield damage is equal under my state-minimum insurance policy, right?


To avoid paying for damages like this out of pocket, you need comprehensive insurance. A windshield shattered by hail would be covered by comprehensive insurance, while a windshield shattered by a traffic accident would be covered by either your collision insurance or the other driver’s liability insurance.

What does comprehensive insurance cover?

Every accident is unique – whether comprehensive insurance covers your accident is determined by a wide set of circumstances. Here are a few types of damage that may be covered by comprehensive insurance:

  • Theft
  • Fire
  • Vandalism
  • Contact with animals
  • Falling or flying objects
  • Hail
  • Windshield damage
  • Windstorms
  • Earthquakes

Find out more about what is covered by Nationwide comprehensive auto insurance.

Comprehensive vs. collision insurance

What is comprehensive coverage compared to collision? You could say they’re two halves of a whole. Collision insurance covers you if your car is damaged by another vehicle, a stationary object or by rolling over. If you’re in a collision, you’re covered by collision insurance. Simple enough, right? Conversely, comprehensive insurance covers just about everything else. As mentioned above, comprehensive covers you if your car is damaged by everything from theft to natural disasters. You could say that collision is for when you hit something else, and comprehensive is for when something else hits you (provided that something else isn’t another car).

Comprehensive vs. full coverage insurance

Yes. Some people mistakenly use these terms interchangeably, but there is an important difference, namely that most insurance providers do not offer anything called “full coverage.” In other words, there is no single auto insurance policy that covers everything.

As mentioned, comprehensive insurance is an optional coverage that can be added to your state-required liability insurance which provides additional protection for accidents not caused by a vehicular collision. Rather than having one super policy, you can pair different types of coverage.

Is comprehensive insurance required by law?

You’re not required by law to have comprehensive insurance. That said, lenders will often require you to have it if your car is leased or not fully paid off.1 Comprehensive insurance also covers damage from sources that are often beyond your control. So, unless you’ve learned to command the weather, every tree branch near you, and every would-be thief in the area, then comprehensive coverage is a good idea.

Learn more about comprehensive coverage and get a quote today so you can build a custom policy that’s right for you.

[1], Accessed March 2022.

Insurance terms, definitions and explanations are intended for informational purposes only and do not in any way replace or modify the definitions and information contained in individual insurance contracts, policies or declaration pages, which are controlling. Such terms and availability may vary by state and exclusions may apply.