Comprehensive deductible: Learn what to choose

Car on fire in streetComprehensive insurance is optional, but if you’re thinking of buying it, you will have to decide what your comprehensive deductible will be.

Unless you have savings on hand to fund the cost of car repairs, buying comprehensive insurance is a prudent move. It pays for damage to your car from hail, fire, flooding, theft, vandalism, collisions with animals and falling objects such as trees.

One way to save on comprehensive insurance is to raise your comprehensive deductible, but there several factors you should consider before making this decision.

How car insurance deductibles work

A car insurance deductible is the amount you pay toward repairs before your insurance policy kicks in. (Our car insurance deductible chart shows the dollar and percentage amount reduction by state that you get by raising your deductible.)

Typically comprehensive deductibles range from $100 to $2,500, as car insurance deductible choices vary depending on your state laws and insurance company guidelines. Generally, deductibles tend to be between $250 and $1,000.

The higher the deductible, the lower your premiums will be. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 can reduce comprehensive insurance costs by 15 to 30 percent, while a jump to a $1,000 deductible can save you 40 percent or more, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group based in New York.

The downside to high comprehensive deductibles is that this amount will be subtracted from your insurance claim and you will be responsible for the rest of the repairs.

For example, if you set your comprehensive deductible at $1,000 and your car sustains damages totaling $1,800, you will pay $1,000 and your insurance company will pay $800. 

Car insurance deductibles are normally paid per incident, so you will have to pay your deductible amount out every time you make a comprehensive claim. The exception being if you live in a state where laws require the deducible to be waived for windshield claims.

Why you may not want a high comprehensive deductible

If you’re looking to trim costs on your policy by raising car insurance deductibles, you may want to do so with your collision coverage instead of your comprehensive. Collision coverage pays for damage to your car from accidents, which may be easier to avoid than theft and natural disasters, which fall under comprehensive claims. 

Another reason you may not want to raise your comprehensive deductible is that it doesn’t cost that much. For example, in Florida, drivers pay $86 a year for comprehensive, on average, according to’s analysis of Quadrant Information Services data showing rates from six insurers for nearly every ZIP code in the country. The average annual cost is $134, according to the III.

How much comprehensive insurance should I have?

You cannot choose how much comprehensive insurance to buy. The most your insurance will pay out is the car’s actual cash value – what the car was worth on the market before the damage occurred – minus your chosen deductible amount.

You can negotiate the actual cash value of your car in the event of a total loss by providing different examples of similar cars. Settlements should include taxes and fees you paid at purchase.

Comprehensive insurance claims and your rates

Unlike liability or collision claims for accidents, comprehensive claims typically won’t increase your rates. The exception may be if you file multiple claims in a very short period of time.