Do I Need Windshield Replacement Insurance?
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First, it’s a tiny chip. Then it becomes a crack. You watch it creep across your windshield, wondering how long you have before you absolutely have to fix it. Another part of your mind wonders if it’s really worth all the effort.
Then, the questions start. Does car insurance cover windshield repair? What about long cracks or small chips? Am I going to have to pay this out of pocket?
These are all important questions and concerns, but windshield replacement insurance can alleviate them. Here’s what you need to know about one of the more popular add-on insurance policies.
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What is Windshield Replacement Insurance?
Windshield replacement insurance is a type of insurance policy that covers the cost of repairing or replacing a damaged windshield. It is typically offered as an optional add-on to an auto insurance policy, although it may be included in comprehensive coverage.
In general, windshield replacement insurance covers the cost of repairing or replacing a damaged windshield due to cracks, chips, and other forms of damage. The coverage usually includes the cost of labor, materials, and sometimes, the cost of a rental car while the repair or replacement is done.
It’s important to note that windshield replacement insurance may have an insurance deductible, which is the amount of money that the policyholder must pay out of pocket before car insurance coverage kicks in. Also, there may be limits to the amount of coverage provided, depending on the policy’s terms and conditions.
What is Windshield Replacement Insurance Called?
Windshield replacement insurance is only used in states that have it as an optional coverage policy, but it’s also referred to as windshield coverage, glass replacement insurance, or full glass coverage.
While often used interchangeably, there are some differences. Windshield replacement insurance and windshield coverage cover only the windshield. Glass replacement insurance or full glass coverage typically applies to all vehicle glass, including the side and rear windows.
When Would I Not Be Covered?
If you only have liability insurance or you have collision insurance and the damage to your car’s windshield was caused by an event outside of a car accident (such as a tree branch or vandalism), you would not be covered by windshield replacement insurance.
Comprehensive car insurance covers windshield replacement due to theft, vandalism, or acts of God (an insurance term for an uncontrollable event like a tornado or earthquake). In states where windshield coverage isn’t always part of a comprehensive policy, full glass coverage will ensure you don’t have to pay out of pocket for repairs.
The No-Deductible States
If you live in South Carolina, Kentucky, or Florida, you don’t have to worry about paying a deductible to replace a broken windshield. State laws in these three locales require car insurance companies to cover the cost of windshield replacement as part of their comprehensive insurance.
If you file a claim and it’s accepted, you should get a full windshield replacement with no added deductible. That’s why these states — at least in the industry — are called “zero deductible states.” However, these states tend to have higher insurance premiums on average than others.
How Much Does Windshield Replacement Cost?
If you have comprehensive coverage, your auto insurance will cover windshield replacement. You will have to pay the deductible, however. Get a quote first, because if the cost of a new windshield is less than your deductible, you shouldn’t file an insurance claim. Repair costs for windshield replacement are usually between $200 and $500.
However, the cost depends on the vehicle you own. If you drive a luxury car, a classic car, or a rare car, the cost may be much higher as the auto glass repair may require a custom order.
Where Should I Go to Get My Windshield Replaced?
If you have windshield replacement insurance, your insurance company usually has a preferred shop for glass claims. You won’t have to worry about scouring the internet to find a reputable shop that caters to glass damage and windshield damage.
If you’re paying out of pocket for a windshield replacement, it’s tempting to choose the cheapest option. Don’t do it, experts warn. Bargain-rate installers may put in an inferior-quality glass or install it incorrectly, without a proper seal. The result is a leaky windshield or worse, a windshield that pops out in an accident, raising the risk that you’ll be thrown from the car. Find registered, professional windshield repair shops on SafeWindshields.org.
Will Insurance Cover Windshield Chip Repair?
The good news is that most auto insurance policies will pay for your windshield chip repair, and in some cases, waive the deductible. Insurers would rather you make the quick and cheap fix so you don’t have to file a more costly windshield insurance claim later.
What if you already have a cracked windshield? Typically, your comprehensive coverage will cover repairing a crack in your windshield if it’s less than 6 inches long — about the length of a dollar bill. Many insurers will cover the repair with no deductible if you use a company within the insurer’s network.
Can My Car Pass State Inspection With a Cracked Windshield?
If you live in one of the 16 states that require your car to pass a state inspection, you may be wondering how the crack will affect things.
Here are the states that can fail your car inspection with a cracked windshield:
- Delaware: The windshield must have no cracks that interfere with vision, and any cracks over 5 inches will cause you to automatically fail the inspection.
- Hawaii: Any cracks, chips, scratches, or discoloration on any part of the windshield will cause you to fail.
- Louisiana: Cracks longer than 8 inches on any part of the windshield will result in a safety inspection failure.
- Maine: Any crack that impairs the driver’s line of sight or is longer than 6 inches long is an automatic fail.
- Maryland: Cracks that obstruct the driver’s view or are longer than 1.5 inches in the area touched by windshield wipers are illegal.
- Massachusetts: A windshield with a crack longer than 6 inches — regardless of its location — will cause a car to fail inspection.
- Missouri: A windshield with a crack longer than 3 inches that obscures the driver’s sight line will fail inspection.
- New Hampshire: Cars will only pass inspection if the damaged windshield has no cracks longer than 2 inches, provided they’re not in the line of sight of the driver.
- New York: A cracked windshield that impairs the driver’s vision is not allowed and will cause a car to fail inspection.
- North Carolina: A severely cracked windshield can cause a failure (although this is loosely defined by the law).
- Pennsylvania: Any such crack that obstructs the driver’s vision or extends into the area that is wiped by the windshield wipers will cause an inspection failure.
- Rhode Island: Cracks that are right in front of the driver are prohibited during a safety inspection, although this is up to the discretion of the inspector.
- Texas: Any cracks longer than 1.5 inches may cause the car to fail inspection.
- Vermont: Cracks that impair the driver’s view will cause a safety inspection failure.
- Virginia: If the crack extends below the AS-1 line — the demarcated strip at the top of a windshield — and into the driver’s line of sight, you will fail your inspection.
- West Virginia: No cracks or chips are allowed in the area directly in front of the driver. Chips and cracks larger than 1.5 inches can cause an inspection failure.
Can I Fix a Chipped or Cracked Windshield Myself?
Windshield chip repair is an easy DIY project, but windshield crack repair isn’t so simple.
To fix a chipped windshield, you can buy a small DIY windshield repair kit that costs between $8 and $20. This usually works surprisingly well and ensures that the chip doesn’t turn into a crack.
DIY windshield repair kits are also an option, but they offer mixed results. Typically, the longer the crack, the less likely it will work or prevent further damage. These kits also might not work if the crack is longer than 12 inches, extends to the edge of the windshield, or penetrates more than one layer of glass. (Windshields have two glass layers, held together in the middle by a vinyl sheet.)
It’s better to call the professionals for a cracked windshield, regardless of whether you have windshield replacement insurance. It’s more of a safety issue than anything else.
How to File a Claim for Windshield Damage
If you need to file a windshield claim, the process is very similar to filing any other type of claim with your own insurance company. Just follow these simple steps:
- Photograph any and all damage to the windshield. If possible, put a measuring tape in the picture so the insurer can see how large the crack is.
- Use a mobile app or contact your insurance agent and provide them with the photographs.
- Select a windshield repair specialist from your insurer’s list of approved vendors/shops. If you’re busy, see if your insurance company has a mobile windshield replacement vendor they use, such as Safelite or Glass Doctor.
Don’t Crack When Looking for Car Insurance
Whether you live in a zero-deductible state or are concerned about paying out of pocket for your windshield replacement, shopping quotes to get the most affordable insurance rate is the smartest move you can make for your vehicle and wallet.
So don’t crack when it comes to the type of coverage you need. Shop with Compare.com and find the right policy at a cheap rate.
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