No matter what kind of driver you are — road-tripper, carpooler, or daily commuter — you know that car ownership comes with its fair share of hassles. Even keeping up with routine car maintenance can sometimes feel like a lot to handle — throw even the most minor windshield damage into the mix, and now you’ve got a recipe for urgently-required repairs.
Whether you’re driving down the road and a pebble hits your windshield, a random tree branch snaps while you’re parked, or, god forbid, you get in an accident, you need to know what to do in the event of a cracked windshield. As a responsible car owner, you need a clear, unbroken view of the road both to comply with state inspection requirements and to ensure safety for yourself and others.
What causes damage to a windshield?
Unfortunately, there are plenty of everyday hazards that can crack your windshield. Anything such as flying road debris, sudden temperature changes, car accidents, low-quality glass, or improper installation can cause damage to your windshield. And, as your windshield provides a whopping 34% of your vehicle’s structural integrity, any windshield damage is serious damage.
This is by far the most common cause of front windshield damage. Rocks and gravel from the road surface can be thrown into the air by other car’s tires at such a velocity that they chip your windshield glass on impact. Even small chips or cracks can quickly spread and cause more substantial damage.
Abrupt temperature changes
If you live in an area where the temperature tends to swing wildly from day to night, your windshield may be more at risk than if you live somewhere with a more consistent climate. Windshield glass is made to expand and contract with temperature changes, but abrupt, extreme fluctuations can still cause the glass to crack.
This one goes without saying. Like many parts of your car, your windshield is designed to break in a way that won’t injure you in case of an accident. This means that, while your windshield will break in any severe enough accident, its tempering and protective coatings should prevent it from shattering into dangerous pieces.
When replacing your windshield, be wary of prices that seem too good to be true — they most likely are. Less than honest businesses may try to cut corners and skirt industry standards when installing a new windshield, which puts your safety at risk.
An improperly installed windshield is at much higher risk for damage. Signs of sub-par installation include wavy or blurry glass, water leakage around the edges of the windshield, gaps between the frame and the glass, and rattling or cracking sounds.
Does my insurance cover windshield damage?
As with most insurance questions, the answer is a resounding “it depends!”. Different types of car insurance offer different coverages for windshield damage, which we’ve explained below.
Comprehensive: Short answer, yes!
Comprehensive car insurance policies should generally cover windshield repair and/or replacement, so long as the damage was due to a covered event. Covered events may include, among others:
- Inclement weather
- Falling objects
- Theft or vandalism
- Damage from hitting an animal
Collision: Yes, if you were in a collision
As the name implies, collision coverages will take care of windshield repair and replacement costs, minus the cost of your deductible, so long as the damage was caused by a collision. If you rear-end someone while waiting at a light, or even get into a more serious accident, collision coverage will take care of any damage to your windshield.
Liability insurance is meant to cover the costs of damages that you caused to another party. It kicks in if you are in an accident where you are the at-fault driver. So, if you cause a car accident and your windshield is damaged, you will be responsible for the repair or replacement costs.
Should I always file a claim for windshield damage?
Many car insurance companies have a zero-deductible policy in place for windshield repairs and replacements. If your insurance company has this policy, you should definitely file a claim — you can have your windshield repaired or replaced at no cost to you.
However, depending on the amount of your deductible, in some cases it may be more cost-effective just to pay for your windshield replacement out of pocket. When shopping around for windshield replacement quotes, you may find that many come out to roughly the same amount as your deductible. If this is the case, you’ll be better off not filing a claim.
Will filing a windshield claim affect my insurance premium?
In most cases, filing a claim to have your windshield repaired or replaced will have little to no effect on your insurance premium. However, if you file a claim in the situation listed above, wherein the repair price is roughly the same as your deductible, you could see your premium increase as a result of this largely pointless claim.
Will I get OEM glass or an aftermarket windshield?
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are made by your vehicle’s original manufacturer. OEM auto glass generally costs about 40％ to 60% more than its aftermarket competition. Due to this price difference, in some cases aftermarket glass is all your insurance company will cover. Aftermarket glass is generally of very similar quality to OEM glass; however, if you prefer, you can usually request to have OEM glass installed and pay the difference between that and what your insurance company will pay for aftermarket glass.
How can I protect my new windshield?
Once your new windshield is installed, there are a few things you can do to help keep it in tip-top shape for as long as possible. While you can’t anticipate day-to-day dangers like road debris or falling tree branches, you can protect your new windshield by:
- Driving safely. You might not be able to avoid the random rock that ruins your day, but you can certainly improve the overall lifespan of your new windshield by following common sense safe driving precautions. Maintain a safe following distance, obey all traffic laws, and try to avoid driving in particularly bad weather.
- Regularly replacing your wiper blades. Damaged wiper blades can really do a number on your windshield. If you notice that your wiper blades are not moving water like they used to, or are more abrasive than they should be, make sure and replace them right away.
- Steer clear of harsh chemicals. Don’t use anything on your car that isn’t, well, meant to be used on your car. Some chemicals can do lasting damage to windshields and compromise their longevity.
With any luck, you won’t need the windshield repair and replacement information in this article any time soon. But, we all know the unexpected can happen, and with winter weather well underway, your windshield might be a bit more at risk than usual. Keep a close eye on even the smallest cracks and chips in your windshield, and repair or replace damaged auto glass right away, for your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road.
If you do end up in need of windshield repairs, Elephant is here to help. Visit our website to learn more, or get a quote today!