As you drive along a coastal road, you feel nervous about the truck that’s driving ahead of you. The road is littered with stones and—before you can distance yourself—one of the pebbles gets kicked up by the truck’s tires and hits your windshield.
Many of us have found ourselves in this unfortunate situation. Although the damage may be minor, it could obstruct your view and you will need to sort it out as soon as possible.
In this article, we outline different kinds of windshield damage your car may experience, whether your insurance will cover it, and how much it would cost you to pay for it out of pocket.
Will a Windshield Need to Be Repaired or Replaced?
Before 1904, windshields didn’t exist and drivers were forced to enjoy the fresh air as they rode through the countryside. However, as cars began to drive faster, this became impractical.
At first, windshields were made out of single glass panes and they easily shattered on impact. But, after some trial and error, windshields were created by sandwiching a plastic layer between two panes of glass. This allowed the glass to remain intact—even if it cracked or chipped.
If you’re sitting beside the road and examining the damage to your windshield, it may be difficult to determine how bad it is. Your first step should be to determine whether:
1. Your windshield is chipped
If a pebble hit your windshield, such as in the scenario above, you may be dealing with a chip. This kind of damage usually happens when a small object hits your windshield and it “scoops away” a little chunk of glass.
There are three main kinds of chips that you may encounter:
- Surface chip (or pit): This is the smallest chip you can have and is characterized by the “pit” it leaves in the outer layer of glass on your windshield.
- Bulls-eye: This is usually larger than a surface chip. It’s circular with a dark center—in other words, it looks like a smaller circle that’s been drawn inside a larger circle.
- Half-moon (or partial bulls-eye): This is the same as a bulls-eye, but it has a half-moon rather than a circular shape. It’s the result of an object hitting your windshield at an odd angle.
2. Your windshield is cracked
Imagine you had to unexpectedly book a flight to your parent’s home, but you didn’t have time to park your car indoors before heading to the airport. A month later, you arrive home to find that your windshield has cracked from sun exposure.
Cracks can happen as a result of sudden changes in temperature or pressure, and they can also be the result of incorrect installations.
If your windshield has a chip, it can also develop into a crack if left untreated. The following kinds of cracks may surface on your windshield:
- Edge crack: These extend into the last two inches of your windshield before it reaches the edge of the glass. It’s often the result of your windshield undergoing pressure changes.
- Floater crack: In contrast to edge cracks, these start and end in the windshield’s center—anywhere outside the final two inches.
- Stress crack: This usually happens when there’s a sudden change in temperature. For example, if you try to melt ice on your windshield with boiling water, it may result in a stress crack.
- Long crack: This is when your windshield has a crack that’s longer than six inches. It’s considered a serious crack and you will have to fix it as soon as possible.
- Star break: This is when a chip in your windshield has small cracks radiating from it. This often looks like a star—hence the name.
If your windshield has been damaged, it may have more than one of the chips or cracks we mentioned above. For example, you could have a bulls-eye chip that then develops into a long edge crack that extends to the center of your windshield.
What Does It Cost to Replace a Windshield?
If you don’t have car insurance, it can cost you anything from $250 to $400 to replace your windshield. This amount will differ, depending on the following factors:
- The make, model, and year of your car.
- The state in which you’re having it fixed.
- The extent of the damage to your windshield.
- The quality and type of glass used.
If you have a luxury car that sports special features, such as rain sensors and advanced driver assistance systems, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $4,500 to have it replaced.
Does Car Insurance Cover Broken Windshields?
Instead of paying for a new windshield, you may be able to claim this cost from your, or another driver’s, insurance. However, it depends on how your windshield was damaged:
1. If someone else damaged your windshield–use liability coverage
If you’re involved in an accident that you’re not responsible for, then the other driver’s liability coverage will step in to pay for your damaged windshield.
For example, imagine you’re crossing an intersection and another driver runs a red light and crashes into the front of your vehicle.
In the process, your windshield cracks and needs to be replaced. Instead of claiming from your insurance, you will be able to claim from the responsible driver’s insurance.
2. If you damaged it during an accident–use collision coverage
If you cause an accident that damages your windshield, you will be able to claim the cost of its replacement from your collision coverage. This kind of car insurance specifically covers the cost of repairs to your vehicle when you’re responsible for an accident.
Let’s look at the above situation from the other driver’s perspective, and assume that their windshield was also damaged.
If they ended up with a long, floating crack—they would be able to claim this from their collision coverage, while you’d claim from their liability coverage.
3. If it was damaged by something else–use comprehensive coverage
If your windshield is damaged by an object or phenomenon that’s neither related to an accident nor the fault of another driver, then your comprehensive coverage will pay for your auto glass repair.
Comprehensive insurance will protect your windshield against a range of incidents, including vandalism, accidents with animals, and rocks damaging your windshield while driving.
Let’s return to our example, but this time—as the both of you are about to collide—a large tree falls between you, and both your windshields are shattered.
Since this damage wasn’t caused by a collision or by another driver, both of you would be able to claim from your comprehensive cover.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Windshield with Insurance?
By having car insurance in place, you will be able to save a lot of money when it comes to claiming for damages to your vehicle. However, this doesn’t mean that it won’t cost you a cent.
For each of the insurance policies you have in place, you will be required to pay a deductible. This is an amount—which usually ranges between $100 and $2,000—that you’ll have to pay toward your car’s repairs before your insurance will kick in to pay the rest.
Let’s say you park your car in a dangerous neighborhood and, when you return, you find that the windshield has been vandalized. Based on your car’s make, model, and year, the replacement cost is $250.
If you have comprehensive coverage with a deductible of $100, you will pay the first $100 and your insurance company will then pay the remaining $150.
However, if you were in a previous incident during the same year and you paid a deductible for your comprehensive insurance, then your insurer would pay the whole $250. This is because you only pay one deductible per coverage type a year.
If you would like to avoid paying a deductible, you can take out full glass coverage. This is offered by the majority of insurance providers as an add-on to your liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage.
On average, this will cost you an additional $5 to $10 each month.
What Do I Do If My Insurance Doesn’t Cover Damaged Windshields?
The majority of states require you to have liability coverage. However, you may have decided to skip comprehensive and collision insurance. This means that, in most situations, you will have to pay for a broken windshield yourself.
It may seem like an unnecessary expense, particularly if it’s a small crack that doesn’t obstruct your view or prevent you from driving. However, it can be dangerous—and illegal—to drive with a damaged windshield.
A small chip will weaken your windshield by 60% to 70%, which places both you and other motorists in danger. In fact, without an intact windshield, your airbags may not deploy correctly during a serious collision, which may cost you your life.
Should I File an Insurance Claim for a Cracked Windshield?
Before you claim from your insurance, you should take some time to assess whether it’s the best way to deal with the situation. There are two main points to consider:
1. The size of your deductible versus the cost of repairs
If your deductible is relatively low, such as $100, and you have a luxury car that requires $4,500 to repair a broken windshield, then it makes sense to claim from your insurance. In this scenario, you will pay $100 rather than $4,500.
However, if you have a high deductible, such as $2,000, and an average car that only requires $250 to have its windshield fixed, it might not make as much sense to claim from your insurance.
If your windshield is damaged, make sure you compare the cost of claiming from your insurance versus not claiming from them.
2. The impact on your auto insurance rates
Every time you claim from your insurance, there’s a possibility that it will increase your monthly premium during their next annual assessment of your policy.
This is because they will consider you a higher risk after each claim.
This will largely depend on whether you were at fault for the damages or not. If you have liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage, then your premiums for each will be impacted in the following ways:
- Liability coverage: If you damage another driver’s windshield, your liability coverage will pay for it to be fixed, but your premium may be increased because you’re at fault.
- Collision coverage: If you claim from your collision coverage, then you are automatically at fault for the accident, and your premium may increase.
- Comprehensive coverage: If you, however, claim from your comprehensive insurance, then an act of nature or an object is typically responsible, so your premium will remain unaffected.
How Do I Make a Claim for Windshield Damage?
Once you’re ready to have your windshield repaired, follow these steps to make a claim for the damage:
- Let your insurance provider know what happened: You can do this by giving them a call or by sending them an email. Nowadays, many insurance providers also have apps you can use to submit a claim online.
- Select your chosen repair shop: You may have to get a quote from a windshield repair shop so that your insurer can approve your claim. Make sure you shop around to find both the best deal and the best service.
- Pay your deductible: Once your claim has been approved, you can go ahead and pay your deductible. Once this has been settled, it will unlock your insurance, and your claim will either be paid out to you or go directly to the glass repair shop.
Find Affordable Car Insurance Today through CheapInsurance.com
Claiming for windshield damage is more complicated than meets the eye. There are different chips and cracks that need to be diagnosed, and it may take a moment to determine which insurance will cover the cost of it.
If you want to make sure you have the option to claim for windshield damage, you should be properly covered. However, this doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.
By filling in your zip code at the top of this page, you can receive several quotes from different insurance providers.
You can then compare them and choose the one that suits your pocket. At CheapInsurance.com, we’ve got you covered!