Just one tiny rock hitting your windshield can trigger a chain of events that can ultimately lead to costly repairs and potentially compromise the structural integrity of your vehicle. Even a small chip can crack and spread across your windshield over time.
And in most states, you can get a ticket for driving with a damaged windshield if the crack is large enough to impair the driver’s vision.
Needless to say, there are financial and safety reasons for fixing a damaged windshield in a timely manner. The good news is that as long as the damage is caused by something other than a collision, most insurance companies will not count auto glass damage as a claim on your policy, as long as you've comprehensive coverage.
Many companies pay for windshield repairs at 100 percent coverage.
Here are a few things you need to know about windshield repair and what’s covered by insurance. Be sure and ask about windshield repair coverage when shopping for auto insurance.
Why you should fix a chipped windshield
The windshield provides a significant portion of structural support to the cabin of a vehicle and helps keep the roof in place in the event of a rollover. According to the Auto Glass Safety Council, the windshield provides up to 45 percent of the cabin’s structural integrity in a front-end collision, and up to 60 percent in a rollover.
It also allows the airbags to properly deploy to cushion passengers, and it prevents people from being ejected in a serious collision.
When the damage is minor, taking early action almost always prevents the damage from spreading.
“Even if it’s a small chip, don’t wait. Because the glass layers in windshields are now thinner, most chips will eventually crack,” says Melina Metzger, spokeswoman for Safelite Group, a third-party administrator of auto glass claims for more than 175 insurance companies.
Cold and hot weather can make small chips spread quickly, so repairing chips as soon as they occur helps to eliminate the need for replacements in the future.
What your auto insurance covers
There is usually no deductible for windshield repairs as long as you have comprehensive coverage and that your policy covers windshield damage.
“Typically, the comprehensive portion of your insurance policy covers windshield cracks or vehicle glass damage. However, many car insurance companies have a separate section of the policy that defines coverage for glass breakage,” Metzger says.
This special coverage may allow for a lesser deductible owed on windshield replacement.
If you have a high deductible without specific glass coverage, it’s a good idea to think twice about filing a claim if the cost of your repair is only a small amount greater than the cost of your deductible, Metzger says.
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In Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts and South Carolina, the law requires insurance companies to waive the deductible to completely replace a windshield, as long as you have a comprehensive auto insurance policy.
Windshield repair vs. replacement
Damage to a windshield doesn’t always mean the windshield needs to be replaced.
If addressed quickly, many windshield chips and even small cracks can be successfully repaired before they spread, Metzger says.
Replacement is the only option if:
• The damage is too large to be repaired – longer than the length of a dollar bill
• The damage is close to the perimeter of the windshield, or in the line of sight
• There are multiple points of damage.
How windshield repair works
A chip is made of thousands of micro cracks. As Metzger explains, a vacuum is created over the damaged area and the resin penetrates and fills the finest micro-cracks. “
We inject a special resin, and in just 30 minutes, the result is barely visible, and the windshield is strong again,” she says. A technician then coves it with UV light to harden the resin.
Who chooses your windshield repair vendor?
The policyholder has the right to choose the shop of his or her choice. It’s worth asking whether the shop:
- uses top-quality glass, urethane and primers;
- offers 24-hour support;
- employs only technicians who are certified and have undergone background checks;
- includes a nationwide warranty with its service.
“It’s important to understand how the process works before you pull out your wallet,” Metzger says. “If you choose to compare quotes from more than one auto-glass company, be aware that not all quotes are equal.
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