Does car insurance cover windshield replacement?

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Windshield replacement has historically been the top car insurance claim. Highway debris from vehicles and construction trucks can cause a surprising amount of damage when you are traveling 65 miles per hour. A tiny pebble could crack your windshield. Many people ask, “does insurance cover windshield damage?” The answer depends on the type of car insurance coverage you have.

Having the coverage to repair or replace damaged glass can save you hundreds of dollars or more. If you do not have windshield coverage, replacing a broken windshield could cost as much as $400 for a standard vehicle and up to $1,500 for a luxury model. Comprehensive coverage is what you need on your policy to repair or replace your windshield. Carrying this coverage may be a wise financial decision, especially if you plan on spending any time on the highway.

Does car insurance cover windshield damage?

There are two main types of car insurance, commonly known as minimum coverage and full coverage car insurance. Minimum coverage car insurance is the most basic type. It means the minimum coverage that is legally required in your state to operate a vehicle. That said, states do not require optional coverages 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.

Full coverage expands on the required state coverages and adds 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.

Are windshields covered by insurance? They typically would be 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.

Full glass coverage

Insurance companies 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 and often with a $0 deductible option.

Will I have to pay a deductible?

According to the Insurance Journal, most auto insurers will waive the comprehensive insurance deductible for a repair. However, unless you live in the “zero deductible” states of Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina, you would have to pay a deductible for a replacement.

As for the three states mentioned, state law does not allow carriers to sell full glass coverage with a deductible.

What if I do not have comprehensive insurance?

If you do not have comprehensive insurance, you may still be able to have your windshield replaced. If you were involved in a crash 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 liability insurance policy. However, most other scenarios would fall under comprehensive or collision coverage, and without those coverages you will pay the expenses out of pocket.

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 on 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. To file a windshield claim:

  • Photograph and measure the damage to determine whether a repair is enough.
  • File a claim online, over the phone or by visiting your local insurance agent.
  • Provide the photos or size of the damage to your claims adjuster.
  • 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.

Frequently asked questions

Does my insurance cover windshield replacement?

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”.

Should I replace or repair my damaged windshield?

The best way to decide whether a glass repair is enough is by measuring the damage. If it is smaller than six inches, repairing the windshield may be all you need to do. But if the damage is larger than six inches, the glass could be rendered unsafe, and a new windshield might be the better option. Contact a glass repair specialist for guidance if you have any doubts about whether your windshield should be repaired or replaced.

How much does full car insurance cost?

Full coverage car insurance is more expensive than minimum coverage, but it offers the optional comprehensive and collision coverage that you need to help cover your vehicle’s damage. The annual average cost of car insurance for full coverage car insurance is $1,674 per year.

Written by
Cynthia Paez Bowman
Personal Finance Contributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a finance and business journalist who has been featured in Bankrate, Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and TheSimpleDollar.com. She regularly travels to Africa and the Middle East to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development and works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility.
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Senior Insurance Editor