Comprehensive and collision auto insurance are common optional inclusions in an auto policy. Collision pays benefits when a driver suffers vehicle damage in an accident. Comprehensive pays benefits for a variety of other events that cause damage to one's vehicle.
The specific events a comprehensive policy pays for vary, but common items include damage caused by vandalism, theft, storms and animal impact. About.com indicates that the premiums on a typical comprehensive policy are modest even with a low deductible.
A primary distinction with a collision policy is that an owner typically can't get it as a standalone element. It must be added to a policy that includes liability and comprehensive benefits. The typical event covered by a collision plan is a two-car accident. When a driver strikes another vehicle and he is at fault or no party is at fault, the collision protection pays for his damage. People are often surprised to learn that it is the collision protection that pays for repairs resulting from pothole damage or one-vehicle crashes caused by icy roads.
In contrast to comprehensive coverage, About.com indicates that collision premiums are usually expensive. A $500 or higher deductible is one way to offset the cost of this coverage.