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Cost vs. Benefit Analysis: Comprehensive Car Insurance

While comprehensive car insurance is the Rolls-Royce of auto insurance, that doesn't necessarily mean it's the right choice for every driver. On the contrary, it is important that you weigh the peace of mind that carrying comprehensive coverage buys you against its financial cost before you add it to your larger auto insurance policy. Here is a quick primer on comprehensive auto insurance to help you understand what you're buying, and whether it's the right choice for you.

Comprehensive Car Insurance 101
For starters, comprehensive car insurance is exactly what it sounds like - an insurance coverage on your automobile that protects you from just about anything and everything that could happen to your vehicle. More specifically, comprehensive coverage provides protection against broken windshields, vandalism, theft of the car and/or its contents, hit and run damage, flooding, fire, damage from severe weather, and unforeseen threats such as falling trees and branches, road debris, and animals on the road.

Comprehensive Car Insurance Costs
Just how much does that level of insurance cost? While acknowledging that rates will vary depending on your vehicle's make and model, its age, mileage, and your deductible, a few ballpark estimates are always helpful if you're seriously thinking about adding comprehensive to your auto insurance package. According to recent data compiled by the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of comprehensive insurance in the U.S. runs around $136 per year, with a high of $266 per year in the District of Columbia, and a low of $97 per annum in Oregon.

Do You Need Comprehensive Car Insurance?
At first glance, the answer to this question seems like a no-brainer. For a few hundred dollars per year, who wouldn't want to protect their vehicle against any and all possible threats? Since comprehensive can add up to as much as 30% or 40% of your annual premiums, however, it's important to weigh the benefits of carrying it against the annual cost, especially if you own an older car.

Where do experts recommend you draw the line? Emphasizing the fact that comprehensive coverage will never pay you more than your vehicle is worth, even if the cost of repairing your vehicle exceeds that amount, the Wall Street Journal's SmartMoney.com recommends that you carry comprehensive only if the annual premiums add up to less than 10% of your vehicle's blue book value.

Cutting Comprehensive Car Insurance Costs
Last but not least, there are ways to obtain comprehensive coverage, or similar coverages, and save money. If you're leaning toward comprehensive insurance, but are still leery of the costs, here are a few proven methods to get the best of both worlds:

  • Raise Your Deductible—Comprehensive deductibles usually range from $0 to $1,000. Selecting a higher deductible of $500, $750, or even $1,000, will lower your costs accordingly (though keep in mind that by adopting high deductibles, you're assuming the responsibility of paying for lesser costs such as broken windshields and petty theft).
  • Opt for Collision Only—Eliminating comprehensive altogether and opting for collision is another way to save money and still protect your vehicle. Doing so will save you the $100 to $300 per year that you would otherwise pay for insurance, yet will still protect you against the possibility of your car being totaled in an auto accident.
  • Shop Around for the Best Rates—Costs for comprehensive insurance coverage aren't determined by any industry standards. That being the case, one of the best ways to save on comprehensive is to shop around. By using an online quote provider like NetQuote.com, you'll be able to sit back, let the quotes come to you, and compare the rates, coverages, and service of multiple providers on the way to obtaining the best protection possible for you and your car.

See how much you could save today on your car insurance. Get your free auto insurance quotes today!

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