Thursday, August 22, 2019

Will Auto Insurance Pay for My Windshield Damage?

Photo of woman on cell phone with her vehicle’s broken windshield visible in the foreground. Headline reads: “Will Auto Insurance Pay for My Windshield Damage?”

A windshield crack is a nuisance, and the hard fact is that most small cracks get bigger, so it’s best to deal with them sooner rather than later. But will auto insurance pay for your windshield damage?

The Answer is a Definite “Maybe”

It depends on what types of insurance policy you have on the vehicle …

Liability Coverage

As the name indicates, this coverage only covers other drivers’ vehicles when you are at fault in an accident and therefore liable for their damages. It doesn’t pay for any damage to your vehicle, including windshield cracks. Most states require drivers to carry this coverage.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage won’t do you any good because it only covers, well, collisions with other vehicles. Chances are, you have more than a broken windshield when this happens, so the question is moot.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage may cover damaged auto glass, depending on your insurance company’s policies. If your windshield is repairable, some insurers pay the full cost of the repair. Ask your agent or check your policy for a “glass repair agreement” to see if you’re covered.

If the windshield has to be replaced, you’ll probably have to pay a deductible under your comprehensive coverage. A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance company will pay the rest. If you have a $500 deductible, and your windshield only costs $175, you pay the full amount.

You may have heard that some states require insurance companies to provide a no-deductible coverage option for windshield replacement. This is true, but sadly, Kansas is not one of those states.

Full Glass Coverage

If you’ve opted for full glass coverage on your vehicle, windshield damage is taken care of. Windshield repair coverage may or may not have a deductible (many policies waive the deductible). Again, check your policy or call your agent.

Windshield Repair Versus Replacement

Windshield damage larger than a dollar bill usually requires complete replacement of the windshield, while smaller chips and cracks are often repairable. Repair costs a lot less than replacement, and you can drive the vehicle immediately after the work is done rather than waiting an hour (as with a replacement). Repair is a great option when it’s possible, but it’s not always an option. Windshield repair can’t be used for:
  • Cracks near the edge of the glass (this jeopardizes the structural integrity of the windshield)
  • Chips or cracks in the driver’s direct line of sight (repair resins are made to match the optical qualities of auto glass, but they’re not always a perfect match, so regulations prohibit repair here because it can inhibit visibility)
  • Chips and cracks over the size of a dollar bill (repairing larger areas of damage risks weakening the windshield)
  • Heavily soiled cracks and chips (if ALL the dirt and impurities can’t be cleaned away, the repair will be compromised)
The reason some insurance companies are lenient with deductibles for glass repair is that it costs so much less (as little as $50) than replacement ($175 and up). Whoever ends up paying for it, you or the insurance company, auto glass repair, is real money saver and every bit as safe as the original glass.

Do It Soon

Different insurers have different policies, and different states have different laws, but one thing is always certain: small cracks eventually become big cracks. It may happen on a bumpy road, as a result of extreme temperature changes, or just from the natural stresses placed on auto glass during normal driving. If a chip can be repaired, get it repaired, whether it’s covered by insurance or not. You’ll come out ahead in the long run.

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