Glass and Windshield

Visibility is perhaps the most important element of driving defensively and safely. Nightfall and difficult weather conditions like fog or sun glare are common problems. Meanwhile, a lot is happening on the road, and drivers must view it all through glass that is easily broken. Many people don't realize that selecting the right car insurance coverage can help ensure that visibility is always clear.

Damaging Stars, Chips and Cracks

The windows in an automobile actually consist of two thin, clear glass layers bonded to either side of a laminate. Manufacturers have improved the quality and safety of auto glass over the years. However, impacts still result in flaws that can prove distracting and dangerous:

  • Stars: Stone chips are notorious for causing small stars, also known as stress cracks. These often expand with star points extending into cracks over time.
  • Bull's Eyes: If a stone hits at a slightly different angle, you may see a more round flaw that resembles a bull's eye. The rock chips a small cone from the surface layer, leaving a dark ring.
  • Half Moons: When projectiles strike at an angle, they may leave what appears much like a deep scuff. However, it is essentially half a bull's eye that has compromised the outer layer.
  • Cracks: Extreme temperatures are a common cause of cracks. Cracks may affect the inner layer, outer layer, or both, but they often begin at an edge. Once started, cracks often grow rapidly.

These imperfections begin with a tiny nick. However, they typically spread over time due to a number of unavoidable factors, such as:

  • Moisture
  • Dirt
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Sun exposure
  • Friction and wear and tear

Having damage repaired immediately is important. Your windshield is crucial to your vehicle's structural integrity, and it may even affect whether your air bags function properly.

Coverage Under Comprehensive Auto Insurance

Windshield claims are one of the top claims in the country.

At $150 to $300 (and sometimes more), window repair or replacement is an expense that is inconvenient at best and can destroy a monthly budget. However, depending on your state and the type of car insurance you carry, a repair or replacement may cost you nothing at all.

Most glass damage coverage is a part of the comprehensive coverage that you may carry on your vehicle. It covers damages that result from events like:

  • Falling objects.
  • Missiles or projectiles.
  • Explosions or fires.
  • Storms and other weather events.
  • Vandalism.
  • Contact with deer or other wild animals.

That means that if a bird shatters a window, your comprehensive policy should cover it. Likewise, when flying stones or subzero temperatures crack your moon roof, those events fall under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy.

Deductibles and Comprehensive Coverage

Because insurance companies handle comprehensive coverage and deductibles in various ways, it is important to know exactly what your car insurance policy covers versus what your financial responsibility is:

  • Some drivers choose deductibles that are higher than the average cost of replacing a windshield in exchange for lower premiums.
    • If you are one of these drivers, this means you will be paying for your windshield/glass repair out of your own pocket.
  • Some policies may use separate riders for full window coverage under comprehensive.
  • Some auto insurance companies may not charge a deductible for a repair but will enforce one for a replacement.
  • Some drivers may opt for full coverage with no deductible.
  • Some policies may automatically include full coverage with no deductible.

Legal Responsibilities

Federal law generally states that windshields must be free of discoloration or damage in the area extending upward from the height of the top of the steering wheel, excluding a 2-inch border at the top and extending from a 1-inch border at each side.

Going a step further, many states set legal visibility requirements, especially those that require annual vehicle inspections.

Some states also determine whether and how auto insurance companies must cover damages. Some states specify whether aftermarket parts are allowed.

The Repair or Replacement Process

Despite all the rules and regulations, both repair and replacement under your auto insurance comprehensive policy are usually simple, convenient processes:

  • You contact your agent.
  • Your insurance company contacts a qualified repair technician. This may be their choice or yours depending on your state.
  • Your insurance company lets you know who will be fixing the problem.
  • The repair company schedules an appointment to come to your home for the repair or replacement.
  • The repair company brings all necessary materials and completes the work.
  • Depending on the materials used, the repaired vehicle will need to remain still for 1 to 24 hours.

In the hands of a skilled technician, your car will be as good as new. Just take a few moments to ensure that your insurance policy has the essentials for ensuring you always have 100 percent visibility.