What to know about “full glass” and comprehensive auto insurance coverage
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about your car’s windshield much unless it gets damaged. And if you need glass repair or replacement, you may not know how your auto insurance works. Does the policy cover windshield damage? Is there a deductible, and should you make a claim?
It basically comes down to whether you have full glass coverage and/or comprehensive coverage—and whether the latter involves a high deductible for damaged windshields.
What are the differences, and what’s the best option for you? Let’s answer those questions and touch on state requirements that may impact the type of coverage you need.
Common causes of windshield damage
Windshield and other glass damage happen more often than you might think. In fact, damaged windshields are the number one auto insurance claim in the US. There are many common ways you could find yourself looking through cracked, chipped, or broken glass other than a collision:
- Rocks or pebbles hitting the windshield
- Objects falling off a truck
- Extreme weather
- Falling trees or branches
- Theft or vandalism
- Improper glass installation
About 66% of glass repairs are related to chips, while 34% are related to cracks. And even minor damage can quickly become a bigger problem.
Types of glass coverage
Auto insurance can pay for repairs or replacements if your windshield (or windows) are damaged. There are two types of coverage available: as part of comprehensive coverage in an auto policy or separate full glass coverage.
Each policy dictates whether the cost of repair or replacement is fully covered or if you’ll have to pay a deductible. Here’s a look at the two types:
1. Full glass coverage
Full glass coverage provides maximum specific protection. You typically won’t need to pay a deductible if you repair or replace the damaged glass. However, you have to purchase full glass insurance separately on top of a standard auto policy—and if you have comprehensive coverage, that might already be covered adequately and inexpensively!
2. Comprehensive coverage
Comprehensive coverage is separate from basic collision coverage and pays for other forms of damage to a vehicle, like theft, vandalism, or weather events. It can pay for repairing or replacing a damaged windshield or glass. However, policyholders often have to pay a deductible with this type of plan—unless they happen to be in a state that requires insurance companies to waive it (more on that below).
Which policy is right for you? It’s helpful to think about how much it might cost to repair or replace damaged glass versus the premiums and deductibles associated with each policy.
The basics of auto glass repair
The cost to repair auto glass depends on the type and scope of the damage. It’s pretty easy to fix very small chips/cracks less than a few inches long. However, some states have laws that prohibit windshield repair (vs. replacement) if the damage is within the driver’s line of sight; in some cases, even small cracks can obstruct or distort the driver’s view.
Auto glass specialists also recommend replacing a windshield if the damage happens along its edge, as small cracks can spread and cause more extensive damage.
Repair techniques and costs
Glass repair has come a long way in the last several years. Auto glass specialists inject a polymer resin directly into the crack/chip. Once the surface has been smoothed out, you typically won’t be able to tell the glass was ever damaged.
Repair costs depend on the type of damage, the size of the crack or chip, and where you take the car for repairs. Of course, where you live will affect the expense, as well. You’ll pay anywhere from $60–$100 for glass repair in most cases.
Glass replacement and costs
First, if you’re facing windshield repair, make sure to take your vehicle to a business that’s a registered member of the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC). Auto glass technicians should be certified by the AGSC or the Independent Glass Association (IGA). Some major glass repair companies even have their own training and certification programs. Your insurance carrier may recommend an auto glass repair business, which can save a lot of time and trouble.
Like repairs, windshield replacement costs vary depending on several factors, such as your location, vehicle model, and the type of glass. According to AAA, a replacement can cost anywhere from $250–$300 for a sedan or $350–$450 for an SUV. If you have a vehicle equipped with advanced driver-assist systems or a rearview camera mounted in the windshield, you’ll likely have to replace that original equipment, which will drive up the cost.
Why you shouldn’t ignore damaged glass
Slight damage might not seem like a big deal, but even a tiny crack can impact safety on the road. It can affect the integrity of the windshield and even your car’s structure.
If you were to get into a front-end collision, the crack could cause the windshield to shatter more easily, leaving you and your passengers vulnerable to projectile injuries. A crack can also cause the roof to cave in, as the windshield helps protect you in a rollover accident.
State laws and glass coverage requirements
Windshield replacement laws vary by state. For instance, it’s against the law in some states to have a cracked windshield, and three of them—Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina—mandate insurance providers repair or replace a windshield without charging a deductible if the driver has comprehensive coverage.
New York allows a separate glass insurance policy with no deductible. Further, the New York State Insurance Department states that “Aftermarket parts may be used if they are ‘equal or exceed the comparable OEM crash part in terms of fit, form, finish quality and performance,’ and if used must appear on the estimate.”
So, which coverage should you get?
The first step is considering how much you drive and then examining your current policies, whether you have comprehensive coverage, and if you do, whether there is a high deductible for a claim.
For example, if you live in Florida and have comprehensive coverage, the windshield is already covered with no deductible. But if you live in New York and windshield repair and replacement costs are less than your deductible, you may consider paying for any damages yourself or getting extra full glass coverage.
Full glass coverage usually costs an additional $5–$10 a month, so you might not need it if you don’t drive much. But if you do spend significant time on the road, it may be worth it. Just be sure to get a cracked windshield fixed whether you have specific coverage or not!