Replacing a windshield can set you back hundreds of dollars. But the good news is that if you have comprehensive and collision coverage on your auto insurance policy, your out-of-pocket costs may be lower for a covered windshield claim, minus your deductible amount. Even better, the replacement cost could be $0 if you live in a free windshield replacement state. Bankrate’s insurance team explains how different types of auto insurance can help you replace your windshield and how to file a claim for windshield damage.

Does car insurance cover windshield damage?

There are two main types of car insurance, commonly known as minimum coverage and full coverage. Minimum coverage car insurance is the base amount of coverage that is legally required in your state to operate a vehicle. That said, states do not require optional coverage types like comprehensive and collision coverage. Therefore, if your windshield cracked because of a rock hitting it while driving on the highway, comprehensive coverage would not be available to help cover the repairs unless you purchased it as an add-on.

Full coverage expands on state-required coverage, typically adding comprehensive and collision coverage to your auto policy. These add-ons help cover repair costs for perils, such as fire, flooding, theft, vandalism and damage to your vehicle from an at-fault accident. Windshields typically would be covered through the comprehensive coverage portion of your policy. But depending on your insurance company, the state you live in and the event that caused your glass to break, there may be other options.

Here is how each type of coverage could work in case of damage to your vehicle’s glass.

Collision insurance

Collision insurance pays for your vehicle losses and repairs that were caused during a crash. If your windshield is cracked after you rear-end another vehicle or drive into a pole, collision insurance will likely cover the windshield damage minus the deductible amount you chose for this coverage.

Comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive insurance adds protection for other events not related to a collision. Say a tree branch falls on your vehicle, a rock hits the glass, you strike a deer or a severe hailstorm cracks your windshield. In any of the events mentioned, comprehensive insurance could pay to replace the damaged glass, minus your deductible.

Liability insurance

If you do not have comprehensive coverage, you may still be able to have your windshield replaced. If you were involved in an accident that damaged your windshield and the accident was the fault of another driver, the at-fault driver (or their insurance company) would have to pay for your expenses from their property damage liability. However, most other scenarios would fall under comprehensive or collision coverage, and without those coverage types, you would pay the expenses out of pocket.

What car insurance covers windshield replacement 100%?

Insurance companies may have a full glass coverage add-on available in many states that you can purchase in addition to comprehensive insurance. It is exclusively dedicated to glass repairs or replacement, often with a $0 deductible option.

Will I have to pay a deductible to fix my windshield?

According to the Insurance Journal, most auto insurers will waive the comprehensive insurance deductible for glass repair but not glass replacement. However, if you live in a “zero deductible” state — Florida, Kentucky or South Carolina — you should not have to pay a deductible for a replacement. State law does not allow carriers to sell full glass coverage with a deductible.

It is also worth noting that depending on the size of the damage, a glass repair shop may patch the crack for free, so you wouldn’t even have to make an insurance claim. Regardless, it may be a good idea to get a quote from a repair shop first. That way, you will have a general idea of what to expect and whether your deductible will be a factor if you file a claim.

How to file a claim for windshield damage

To file a claim for a windshield replacement, you should assess the extent of the damage first. A good rule of thumb suggests that if a crack in the glass is at least six inches long, a complete windshield replacement is more prudent.

Smaller chips or cracks could be repaired by a vehicle glass professional without removing the entire windshield. If you doubt whether you should repair or replace a windshield, your insurance company or a glass specialist will be able to tell you.

Time is of the essence if your windshield is damaged. Even a small chip or crack could quickly spread. And the damage to the glass could affect the strength and integrity of the entire windshield. For your safety and to protect against further damage, consider repairing or replacing your windshield when there are signs of cracking or chips.

To file a windshield claim:

  1. Photograph and measure the damage to determine whether a repair is enough.
  2. File a claim online, over the phone or by visiting your local insurance agent.
  3. Provide the photos or size of the damage to your claims adjuster.
  4. Choose a glass and windshield specialist from the available options your insurance company provides. You may need to take your vehicle to a facility, although many companies have a mobile windshield service that comes to you.

Windshield damage that is repaired under the comprehensive portion of your car insurance coverage typically does not impact your car insurance premiums. However, because you filed a claim, it is possible that you could lose out on a claims-free discount if your car insurance company offers one.

Frequently asked questions

    • Most auto insurers cover windshield replacement if you have comprehensive coverage on your policy. In some cases, deductibles are waived for windshield repairs. However, if you need to fully replace the windshield, you will likely be responsible for paying your comprehensive deductible, unless you live in a “zero deductible state” or you have purchased optional no-deductible windshield replacement coverage.
    • One method to decide whether glass repair is enough for your windshield is by measuring the damage. If the crack or chip is smaller than six inches, repairing the windshield may be all that you need to do. However, if the damage is more extensive, the windshield could be unsafe, and replacing it with new glass could be the best option. You should consider getting the professional opinion of a glass repair specialist if you’re unsure whether your windshield should be replaced or repaired.
    • Without windshield coverage, the cost to replace a basic windshield could be around $300 to $600. The actual cost will vary depending on the vehicle. It might be even higher — exceeding $1,000 — if you have a high-tech car. These vehicles sometimes have sensors that need specific recalibration.Depending on your car insurance company, it might be possible to purchase optional no-deductible windshield repair coverage. This means that if your windshield were to be damaged, you wouldn’t need to pay a deductible to repair or replace it. Instead, the car insurance company would cover the entire cost of fixing the windshield.
    • While you likely won’t be able to get your windshield replaced for free, you may purchase auto insurance with a no-deductible windshield replacement clause in California. This clause prevents insurers from requiring you to pay a deductible for covered glass replacement claims, meaning your out-of-pocket costs could be $0. That said, if this clause isn’t in your contract, you may have to pay a deductible to replace or fix your windshield.