Car insurance - should I file a comprehensive or collision claim?

Written by Ryan Lowell on February 9, 2011 & Posted in Insurance

Dear Ryan,

I have a $100 deductible on my comprehensive automobile insurance coverage, but a $500 deductible on my collision coverage. I scraped my car on the garage doorway the other day, and don't want to pay the big deductible. Can I file a claim under my comprehensive coverage since I didn't collide with another car?

Jenny O., Huntsville, Alabama

Hi Jenny,

No, you can't. In an auto insurance policy, comprehensive coverage is sometimes called "other than collision coverage" because it pays for damage caused by anything other than a collision. For example, damage to your car caused by flood, fire, theft, vandalism, falling objects, missiles, or contact with a bird or animal would be covered by your comprehensive coverage. A comprehensive claim could involve a rock that kicked up on the highway and cracked your windshield, or damage to your paint caused by some punk egging your car.

Collision coverage pays for damage to your car caused by a collision with another vehicle or object, or vehicle upset (rolling your car). Examples of collision damage would be hitting a rock in the road, backing into a lamppost, or rear-ending another car.

You don't get to choose what coverage or deductible you use; the type of claim is determined by the cause of the damage. There is one exception: When glass is damaged in a collision, you can often choose what coverage to file the claim under. It is rare that a collision would break glass but not damage anything else, so you would normally include the glass in the collision claim, but if the only damage was glass, you could file a comprehensive claim.

Jenny, you collided with the garage doorway, so you have a collision claim on your hands.

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