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Does Car Insurance Cover Cracked Windshields?

Close up to a cracked windshield also showing the driver's hand on the wheel

Will My Car Insurance Company Pay for My Cracked Windshield? 

Yes, if you have comprehensive auto insurance coverage, which covers physical damage to your vehicle. If you only carry basic liability, then it probably will not cover it. However, you can always add an inexpensive windshield repair plan to your car policy to help pay for repairs. 

What is a Windshield Repair Plan? 

A windshield repair plan is a low-cost way drivers can make sure they can repair their glass if it is damaged or broken.  

Just about everyone experiences it eventually: driving along on a beautiful sunny day, radio blasting, singing along, and suddenly you hear a sharp noise. A pebble or some other piece of debris flies out from under the tire of the car ahead of you, hitting your glass dead-center. Whether it causes a tiny chip or something bigger, you need to get it fixed. Leaving it there puts you and your passengers at risk and may lead to a more expensive replacement.  

A repair plan typically covers the repairs of different types of damage. It typically will not cover the cost of a full replacement. 

So now you’re wondering, will my car insurance company cover a windshield crack? 

Should I Get the Glass Repaired? 

Yes and the sooner the better. Even if it’s tiny, you need to get it fixed: they rarely stay small. The good news is that any comprehensive auto insurance policy should cover auto glass repair or even replacement, as long as the damage was from a covered event. Examples of covered events include: 

  • Snowstorms, thunderstorms, or other inclement weather 
  • Natural disasters, like a hurricane or tornado 
  • Falling objects 
  • Vandalism or theft 
  • Animal damage, like hitting a deer 

You’ll also have coverage for a replacement if you have collision coverage and are in an accident. It’s quite common for the entire windshield to be totaled in head-on collisions. 

Depending on your policy, repair (rather than a replacement) might not cost you anything, so check with your insurers or agent before doing anything. 

Before filing a claim, of course, you’ll want to be sure it’s worth it. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and the cost to repair your windshield will only be $50, it makes sense to take care of it yourself. Some policies do not require a deductible for repair since costs are usually so low. If you experience a breach, always refer to your policy before taking action either way. 

If you only carry a liability insurance policy, you will have to cover the cost yourself regardless. That’s where a damaged windshield protection plan might come in. 

Not everyone can afford a full comprehensive policy, or it just might not be worth it if your car is a little older. In these cases, you might consider a protection plan add-on. This is far less than the cost of comprehensive insurance and can give you peace of mind should you ever get a break. 

Cost of a Cracked Windshield Repair 

According to the National Windshield Repair Division, the average cost to repair a chink is $99. That said, costs can vary depending on the type of crack and where you live. 

Most small fissures can be repaired relatively easily, though it’s always important for you to get help from a qualified professional. Even if a chip seems minor, you should get it repaired as soon as possible to stop it from spreading. 

What Happens if I Just Ignore a Chip or Crack?

It could get a lot worse and quickly. It’s tempting to put off taking care of a small chip left by a passing vehicle. But there are several good reasons not to put off taking care of this issue while it’s still a small one.

First and foremost: It’s likely to cost you more (like many things in life) the more you put it off. It will become a bigger problem – maybe the first time you roll over a pothole. The sudden jarring could encourage what was a small problem to become a much bigger one. You could be looking at replacing the entire thing, rather than repairing a small chip.

Safety: As with many products, a small defect can compromise the safety of the driver and possibly the passengers – and even other drivers on the road. How is that possible? A small defect can grow suddenly, possibly affecting your ability to see what’s in front of you. If there is an accident, a small chip could cause a shattering, which may be tremendously detrimental to everyone around. Plus, the presence of an intact and strong piece of glass contributes to the overall integrity of the vehicle’s structure. A chink in that armor could lead to devastating consequences in the event of an accident.

Legal consequences: In some states it is illegal to drive with a damaged windshield, since it is considered a safety hazard. In Maine, for example, a 6”-long fissure may earn you a citation.

Does Car Insurance Cover Cracked Windshields Replacement? 

Yes, if you have comprehensive coverage and under certain circumstances with collision insurance coverage. What if your entire windshield is completely totaled and you need full glass coverage? Does your policy cover a damaged windshield? Luckily, when you have full coverage car insurance, a replacement is usually covered as long as it meets certain requirements. 

If the damage is large enough that it obstructs the driver’s line of vision, your comprehensive policy and full glass coverage or windshield protection plan will cover the costs. You may need to decide whether or not it’s the most cost-effective for you to use your insurance company or pay out of pocket. 

Cost of a Windshield Replacement 

The average cost to replace is between $150 to $300. Unfortunately, though, this range can vary even more than the cost of repairing. Factors that affect the cost include: 

  • Sensors and other technology. Many newer cars contain important sensors and other technology. These must also be replaced with glass, drastically increasing costs by several hundred dollars. Therefore, you may find it’s cheaper to get replacement glass in your older vehicle. 
  • Classic cars. Not all older cars have cheap replacements. Classic cars may require custom glass because they aren’t a standard size. 
  • Tinted glass. Do you want tinted or special glass? If so, this will cost you more than standard auto glass. 
  • Luxury vehicle. Certain makes, like Mercedes Benz and Lexus, require special glass straight from the manufacturer. This increases the cost of glass. 
  • Front or back. Usually, it’s your front glass that takes the brunt of any damage. But if your back windshield needs to be replaced, it can be a little cheaper because you usually don’t have to worry about the wiper assembly. 
  • OEM glass. Using an aftermarket product can greatly lower the cost of a replacement. However, using OEM glass provides higher quality. 
Automobile mechanic removes cracked windshield of a car in auto service station garage.

Should I Go For Repaired or Replaced? 

You might have been asking yourself, “Will my policy cover repair?” Usually, the better question to start with is whether you can repair it at all or if you’ll need auto glass replacement instead. 

Luckily, when you call your insurance company to tell them about the issue, they’ll send a professional to take a look at your vehicle. They’ll be able to tell right away whether a repair or replacement would work best for your specific scenario. 

In general, cracks that are less than 3 inches in length and don’t obscure the driver’s line of vision can be repaired. Each state may also have its own guidelines about which ones can be repaired without requiring a replacement. But if you’d like a general idea before your technician arrives, here is some information on the different types of damage your windshield can sustain: 

  • Stress crack. These typically occur from extreme temperature fluctuations. For example, if your car gets covered in ice during the winter and then warms up in the heat of the sun, you might experience a stress fracture. They are more common along the edge of a window because there is no impact point. 
  • Floater crack. This can be any type that doesn’t extend to the edge of the window. Once a floater reaches within 2 inches of the edge of the glass, you’ll probably need a replacement. 
  • Crack chip. A chip is a small gouge in your window from a rock or other particle. Usually, you’ll notice an impact point with one or more lines radiating outward. Short ones are less than 6 inches in length, long ones are more than 6 inches, and edge cracks extend to the edge. 
  • Star break. This is when the point of impact creates a series of legs that radiate from the break, causing the fissures to go in several directions. While these can usually be filled, you’ll probably still be able to see faint traces of it. 
  • Bullseye crack. This unique formation has a cone in the outer layer of glass that creates a darker circle where the impact took place. Unfortunately, these types are harder to repair, so you may need a replacement if this happens to you. 
  • Combination crack. A combination is just like it sounds — a mix of one or more of the types listed above. Having multiple cracks can make for harder repairs, so you’ll usually need a replacement in this instance. 

Repairing the glass damage will always cost less than full glass coverage replacement. If you’re paying out of pocket, you’ll most likely want to use the less expensive option. If your policy covers it, they’ll probably be the ones to decide whether to repair or replace it. Typically, they’ll go with the least expensive viable option. 

Regardless of whether you have your windshield crack is repaired or replaced, the process should only take about 30 minutes. That means you’ll be back on the road in no time! 

Does Car Insurance Cover a Broken Window? 

Yes, if you have the appropriate coverage, such as comprehensive. As you can see, some policies are pretty great for covering a broken windshield. But what about the rest of the windows in your car? It’s not unheard of for debris to fly up and breach the glass. You might also have a broken window if you’ve recently suffered a break-in or were in an accident. 

Good news! Car coverage has pretty much the same policy when it comes to broken windows. You can rely on your collision coverage to foot the bill if you’re in an accident. And if you have comprehensive coverage, that will cover you if one of the covered events we talked about above were to occur. 

Cost of a Broken Window Replacement 

Just because the glass damage is smaller doesn’t mean replacing a car window is any cheaper. In fact, it falls in about the same price range — typically several hundred dollars. That’s because it’s a more labor-intensive job, so you’ll need to pay more for the time spent installing the window. 

Will the Claim Affect Your Premium? 

In most cases, if the window damage wasn’t caused by a collision, it won’t affect your rates. This isn’t a universal rule, though, so check the details of your policy. 

Depending on where you live and on your specific policy, a deductible might not even apply. Some states require that for repair, carriers cannot apply a deductible. Even outside of states with this requirement, your policy might not include a deductible for glass repair, so check your policy or talk to your agent to be sure. 

Regardless, though, you’ll also want to consider the impact a claim will have on your rates. If you were in an accident that you caused, you might see a spike in your rates, as you’ll be considered a riskier driver

Filing the Claim 

If you’ve determined that your policy indeed covers your damage and that filing a claim is your best option, your next step is to contact your insurance company or agent to start the claims process. Depending on your company, you might be able to start the claim online or with a mobile app as well. 

You will most likely need to take pictures of the damage and explain what happened. This gives your agent a better idea of what occurred so they can determine if it was a covered event. 

After reviewing your evidence, the company will determine whether you do have a valid claim and might suggest a repair shop. Keep in mind that, in most cases, you can choose to use a different repair shop if you prefer. This is usually mandated by law. Still, by using the place your insurers recommend, you’ll probably receive a negotiated price on your services. 

Either way, have the repairs completed and then submit your receipt to the company, along with whatever information they request — at minimum, your name and policy number, but they might ask for additional info. 

Damage can be distracting, which makes them quite dangerous. Small ones will eventually become large ones if you ignore them. It is important to have them repaired immediately. Check your coverage now so you’ll know what to expect if it ever happens to you. 

Find a Cheap Windshield Repair Plan Online Today 

You’ll never have to ask yourself, “does car insurance cover cracked windshields?” again when you choose an affordable windshield protection plan from Freeway. Our windshield protection plans cover minor windshield damage, including chips and cracks up to six inches long. Call us to purchase a plan now! 

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