It’s just a little crack. You can still see through 99.99 percent of your windshield, so what’s the harm?
Plenty. Those cracks and chips in your windshield can spread unpredictably and harm the integrity of the entire windshield.
The windshield is an important part of your vehicle, whose name underplays its role. Not only does it shield wind, it prevents you from flying out of a car when you crash, is an integral part of controlling whether your airbags deploy, and structurally supports your car’s roof – which you’ll really appreciate in the unfortunate case of a rollover accident.
In short, windshield cracks are worth repairing and eventually, they could lead to a full replacement. So, should you pay out of pocket or get your insurance to cover the damage?
Why does a windshield crack, anyway? Sometimes the cause is obvious – you’re blazing down the highway and a piece of gravel nicks it. But, for stress cracks, the cause may be more subtle.
Sudden temperature changes account for many stress cracks. This is why you shouldn’t wash your windshield with cold water on a hot day, or use hot water to melt ice on your windshield in winter. Sorry, fellow Texans, but blasting your A/C can also cause a stress crack.
Wind pressure changes are another culprit. Manufacturing defects, such as unevenly applied adhesive used when installing your windshield, can also lead to future cracking.
Edge cracks are the most common type of crack, accounting for 70 to 80 percent of windshield replacements. These occur in the outer three inches of your windshield. The scary thing is that in no time, a tiny edge crack can grow into a 10-inch monster.
Speed also affects windshield damage. An article in Physics reported, “The first thing the researchers noticed was that the number of cracks was proportional to the square root of the impact speed. This result would imply that if a slow-moving rock hits your windshield when you’re driving at 80 miles per hour, you might expect twice as many cracks as a 20-mile-per-hour vehicle.”
And guess what? Texas has the highest speed limit in the country. The Texas Transportation Commission has set limits as high as 85 mph on certain rural highways. According to Weather.com, Texas’ average speed limit for rural and urban interstates and limited-access roads is 78.3 mph.
With speeds like this, Texans can expect a bonanza of windshield cracks and chips.
Getting Insurance to Cover Windshield Repair and Replacement
If your car is newer and more expensive, you probably carry comprehensive or “other than collision” coverage. This will likely cover your windshield and other auto glass. However, it’s important to double check. Even if windshields are included in your standard policy, a deductible would be more than the cost of an out of pocket fix.
Some carriers provide coverage as an additional option known as $0 deductible glass coverage. Safeco, for instance, allows for windshields to be added to a policy for an additional premium. This option typically covers both repair and replacement.
For windshields to be eligible for repair, many carriers have guidelines, such as cracks must be smaller than a dollar bill. Cracks bigger than a size will be treated as needing windshield replacement, which may not be covered depending on the size of your deductible.
If You Don’t Have Comprehensive Coverage
Even without comprehensive coverage, in some cases you can still add windshield coverage to your policy. Depending on your insurer, you might be able to buy separate auto glass coverage for less than $100 per year. According to Bankrate.com, “The cost to replace a windshield varies based on the make and model of the car. Costs range from $150 to $300, with an average of $214.” So if you drive a lot and tend to get nicks and cracks in your windshield at least once per year, this policy will quickly pay for itself.
Can you add a windshield policy after a crack attack? Once the crack or chip is repaired using your own money, adding coverage is generally not a problem except for very old cars.
Should You Add a Windshield Option?
Even if your insurance company allows for $0 deductible glass coverage, is it wise? Believe it or not, the cost of small claims are eventually reflected in the rates shown on most policies, even without an accident. Getting a windshield repaired and replaced by insurance, multiple times each year can affect your premium.
Over time, your auto insurance rate will go up the more windshield claims are on a policy. In addition, switching to a new insurance company for a better rate could be problem. It’s possible to be denied coverage or surcharged for too many windshield claims. Even small claims are visible on your claims record and can be viewed by a new insurance company (for a few years).
Other Texas Windshield Laws
Despite the importance of windshields, you won’t fail an auto inspection if yours is cracked. However, if the crack causes your auto glass to change shape – such as becoming concave or convex – you’re out of luck. If a cracked windshield is tearing your wiper blades, the inspector will fail your car. Nor can you hang fuzzy dice, or place large stickers or other view-obstructing treasures on or in front of your windshield.
Even if inspectors overlook your cracked windshield, police may not. Law enforcement officers will pull you over if they suspect a windshield crack compromises your view of the road.