If you've got a broken windshield, call the insurance company to inquire about your glass coverage. Driving with windshield damage is dangerous, and with the constant vibration of a vehicle in motion, even a small crack will eventually grow and hinder your road vision. It could even get you a safety-hazard ticket from the authorities. Many auto insurance policies make it easy -- and free -- to fix cracked or broken windshields.
You may have taken on comprehensive coverage when you bought your auto policy. With comprehensive, the insurance company will pay a claim if your car is damaged by a non-accident event, such as a flood or falling tree. Comprehensive is not required by state laws (as is liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage caused by an accident). If you don't have comprehensive insurance, you won't be covered for a broken or cracked windshield.
Glass Coverage Deductibles
Insurance companies set the deductible amounts you're responsible for when you buy the policy. Many insurers, however, will waive it for a windshield repair or replacement. This means no out-of-pocket expense if you have to fix the glass immediately. As of 2013, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina and Massachusetts required insurance companies to offer zero-deductible glass coverage as an option on comprehensive coverage.
Many auto glass companies work directly with insurance companies. If you contact them for a repair, they may offer to call the insurance company, handle the claim and file the paperwork. Some will dispatch roving service techs to your home or place of business, so you don't have to bring the car into a shop.
Cost and Timing
Windshield replacement costs vary by the vehicle's make and model, as well as where the repair is done. A 2013 survey by AutoGlassQuoteZ of replacements on Ford models ranged from $150.14 on a 1999 Mustang up to $508.75 for a 2013 Explorer. Repairing a crack or chip without replacing the windshield is much less costly. For that reason, insurance companies prefer you take care of the damage when it's small. Some waive the deductible on glass repair just to avoid being on the hook for a more expensive replacement if you keep driving with a damaged windshield.
Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.