Cracked Windshield? 4 Things to Know Before You File an Auto Glass Claim
If traveling down the highway seems more risky than it once did, it’s easy to see why. For one thing, there are more of us on the roads than ever before. We’re also driving at faster speeds. Of course, there’s a price for all of this. Not the least of which is the risk of damaged windshields. When you factor in road construction, city congestion, and rush hour, you have a recipe for rock chips, pitting, cracks, and worse.
The fact is, auto glass may be safer than ever before, thanks to manufacturing safety methods and improved engineering—but no glass is impervious to cracking, pitting, and total breakage. So what do you do? Call your insurance company, of course. But how do you know if you’ll really be solving all your auto glass problems?
Here’s how to do your homework before you deal with the insurance company and the auto glass repair shop.
1) Don’t feel pressured to visit the shop recommended by your agent.
If you’ve talked with your insurance agent, you may find that he or she provides the name of a recommended auto glass shop.
It’s a common myth that you have to follow this recommendation. Do a little research into auto glass repair shops in the area first.
The truth is, you always have the right to choose your own auto glass repair company. Yes, your insurance group likely contracts with a given company, but this doesn’t mean they have the right to force you to choose a particular one. In fact, this is illegal. If you find that your insurance company is guilty of this, you can report them.
Summary: You can choose whichever auto glass company you prefer. Just make sure that they accept your insurance.
2) Understand what your insurance plan covers.
When you’re in the lobby of the auto glass company, it’s a little too late to wonder what your insurance plan covers. Read your policy before you even choose a shop. If you can’t get through the insurance-speak, call your agent and have his or her give the details to you in lay terms.
If you carry comprehensive insurance, you’re pretty much guaranteed that your windshield repair or replacement will be covered in full. Why? Because comprehensive insurance covers any non-collision damages that follow break-ins, vandalism, or accidental damages.
This means if a tree branch falls on your car and breaks your windshield, you’re covered. Common rock chips also fall into the accidental occurrence category. Same thing if you hit an animal and decimate your glass.
Still, you need to understand the policy details. Some policies that talk about glass replacement may not include all glass surfaces. What does this mean? You may have coverage for side and back windows, but not the windshield. It pays to be sure.
If you have liability coverage only, auto glass isn’t covered in your policy. Check around for reputable but affordable alternatives.
Summary: Have your agent spell out all the details of your coverage so you know exactly what to expect. Better yet, choose a policy right from the start that covers all auto glass repair and replacement.
3) Know the pros and cons of paying with cash vs. insurance.
The first thing to consider is your insurance deductible. This is the amount you pay out of pocket. If your deductible is higher than two or three hundred dollars, insurance probably won’t pay for your windshield replacement, which means you’ll need to shop around for a fair cash price.
On the other hand, if you have a relatively-low deductible—anywhere from $100–$200—you may find that filing an insurance claim still helps pay for at least some of your costs.
If you’re lucky enough to have a no-deductible auto glass rider on your insurance policy, you won’t have any out-of-pocket costs. Always check these details well in advance of a problem. Barring that, make sure you do enough research that you’re not taken aback by the bill when you’re at the shop.
Summary: Compare insurance pay-outs with out-of-pocket cash costs. Go with the lowest overall cost.
4) Understand how your claim may affect your policy.
Most states acknowledge that rock chips and cracked windshields are not your fault. This means that such damages are very unlikely to raise your insurance premiums.
If your claim is just for windshield repair rather than total replacement, your insurance company may waive your deductible entirely. Check with your agent and your auto glass repair shop.
Summary: If in doubt, ask your agent if your auto glass repairs or replacement will impact your premium costs.
Now you’re almost ready to get back on the road. Call your auto repair shop today. Safe travels!