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Car insurance covers windshield damage and replacement in most cases through comprehensive insurance, and when others are at fault, through property damage liability insurance.
In this piece, we will discuss how auto insurance will cover you should your windshield crack or shatter.
When does car insurance cover your cracked or damaged windshield?
Damage to your windshield and car windows is covered in the vast majority of cases so long as you have comprehensive insurance.
Comprehensive insurance is an optional coverage that is usually purchased with collision insurance. Essentially, it protects your car from any type of damage not caused by another car, sometimes called "acts of god".
Common examples of what comprehensive insurance would reimburse you for are:
- Tree branch falling on your windshield
- Baseball crashing into the windshield
- Pebble flying into your windshield while driving
- Acts of vandalism
- An animal crashing into your windshield
While most policies might cover your windshield, we recommend that you double-check to see which events are covered and make sure all of your glass is covered. It could be a tough situation if it turns out your policy only covers your side windows and not the windshield.
What to do if you do not have comprehensive insurance
Generally speaking, if you do not have comprehensive coverage, your insurance won't pay to repair your windshield. There are two major exceptions where just liability insurance can repair your car.
You may be covered if another person crashes into your car and they are at-fault for the accident. If your windshield or other parts break, it would be repaired when you file a claim against the property damage liability portion of the other driver's auto insurance.
You may also be covered if another person breaks your windshield and you file a claim against their homeowners or renters liability insurance. If they have either of those policies, they would have a liability portion meant to cover expenses for things they damage. You would have to prove to their insurance company that it was their fault.
We typically recommend that drivers get comprehensive and collision insurance if their car is less than 10 years old or worth more than $3,000. Although the two types of coverage can double the cost of your auto insurance, the cost of repair could be more than you would pay for the insurance over five years.
Should you file a broken windshield insurance claim?
The first thing to consider is the cost of the deductible versus repair costs. Insurers subtract your deductible from the total amount claimed, so if your deductible is greater than the price to repair or replace the windshield, you won't get anything from your insurer.
Most deductibles for comprehensive claims range from $50 to as high as $2,000.
We've found that:
- If your deductible is over $1,000, it is unlikely your windshield damage costs would exceed that amount or you'd get a check from your insurer.
- If your deductible is lower, such as $250 or $500, the decision to file a claim becomes a little trickier. You need an estimate of the cost to repair or replace the windshield.
You should also check to see if your comprehensive coverage waives the deductible for glass claims. Some auto insurers like Geico have comprehensive plans that do not force you to pay a deductible when filing a claim for broken glass.
Consult your policy or your agent to see if you have that provision in your policy.
How much does it cost to repair or replace a windshield?
We found that the cost to fix a windshield generally ranges from $100 to $400 for standard vehicles at auto body shops, but can be as much as $1,000 with high-end, high-tech cars such as Teslas. The final amount depends on whether you're swapping in a new windshield or injecting resin into the existing glass.
Cracks that are over six inches long are considered unrepairable and need a full windshield replacement; anything smaller you can probably get away with just repairing the crack.
You can see prices we were quoted from Safelite for both situations below.
The cost to repair a chip in the windshield (less than 6 inches) is consistent, at $120 even for the Tesla. If your deductible is over that amount, you should not file a claim and simply just pay out of pocket.
If you have a $50 or $100 deductible, we also recommend paying out of pocket. Although a $50 deductible would still save around $70 from your insurance company, filing a claim may cause your rates to increase — especially if you have made previous claims.
We highly recommend that if you have previous claims, you do not file a claim for a chip in the windshield.
How to file a claim after your windshield breaks
Filing a claim for broken glass is the same process as other types of car insurance claims. Most companies allow you to either call an agent or submit a claim online. Auto insurance companies like to be notified as soon as possible.
If your windshield was destroyed as an act of vandalism, call the police and obtain a copy of the police report. It may come in handy in the future when talking with your insurance company. When you call, you may be directed to a special division of the claims division for broken glass and windshields, so be sure to pay attention to the prompt.
After filing the claim, your auto insurer may require you to take the car to a shop of their choice to inspect the damage. Some companies may be very specific with whom you get the windshield replaced. Others may be more lenient, and allow you to work with services such as Safelite or other local companies.
Be sure to save all of your receipts so your insurance company knows how much to reimburse you for.