You’re driving down the road, minding your own business when you hear it, crack! It’s the sound of a rock hitting your windshield. At least it wasn’t a huge one but, dang, it put a chip in your perfectly intact windshield. The first one too. Maddening! Now what? The two major considerations are, your safety and your car insurance coverage.
Let’s address safety first since it’s always the prime concern. Why isn’t a cracked windshield safe? In worse case scenarios, damaged glass is dangerous because it weakens the physical strength and integrity of the vehicle. A small ding might not be any big deal, but large cracks can affect the vehicle in the event of an accident. A correct windshield is an important part of the design of a vehicle. It may be involved in things like proper airbag deployment, transferring the force of front-end impact to the chassis of the vehicle or supporting the roof of the car in a roll over. In addition, a large crack makes it easier for the windshield to shatter in the event of an accident increasing the potential for more injuries.
If you only have state-required coverage, then you do not have any insurance considerations since you do not have “Comprehensive” coverage. The purpose of Comprehensive (also called Comp or Other Than Collision) is for things like glass. Is it worth making a claim? Here are some things to consider:
· Is it big or small, a star or a crack?
· Can it be repaired? If so, what’s the cost of repair?
· Does your policy have a special glass rider or repair option?
· What’s the cost of the windshield to replace?
· What is your Comprehensive deductible?
· Is the chip in your line of sight?
Thoughts on replacing a windshield when you have Comprehensive coverage
If your windshield costs $250 to replace and your deductible is $250 or higher, then why make a claim at all? It’s the same out of pocket to you. Any time you use your insurance you are making a claim and claims are known to increase rates down the road. A single comprehensive claim shouldn’t be an issue but when added to any other claims, it could have an impact on your available future rates. Note--often, car insurance companies don’t “ding” you on Comp claims. Some carriers, however, count all claims (even roadside) toward your overall claims picture. For instance, a claim of any sort could disqualify a person for a claim-free discount or affect your tiering status if a company uses tiering to calculate their rates. Obviously, this varies by company so get to know yours. On the other hand, you have the Comprehensive coverage for a reason (you may even have a special glass coverage clause with low or no deductible) so you may want to use it.
Regardless of your decision, it’s best to deal with glass damage quickly. If you can have your windshield repaired, then don’t dilly-dally. Driving down a bumpy road, hitting a pothole or making a quick, forceful turn could cause a small chip to easily spread across the windshield (especially in really cold or really hot weather). I’ve even had a new chip spread as I was driving down a smooth freeway (that was crazy, watching it snake across my whole windshield! It’s now replaced.) Other than that, I’ve personally had success with having a professional glass company fill small chips to get a few more years out of a dinged windshield. In many states it’s considered illegal to drive a car with a cracked windshield, according to the Insurance Information Institute (iii.org). If you’re traveling or busy at work, there are national chain glass repair companies that can typically come to you in their mobile glass service units.
You are the final decision-maker in choosing your windshield path since you know your carrier, your situation and your pocketbook. Hope these thoughts help you!
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