Will My Insurance Replace My Windshield?

Damaged Windshield
••• Getty Images/ DusanBartolovic

Getting into an accident that shatters your windshield can make you feel pretty bleak. Unlike a dented fender or a scrape along the side of your vehicle, a shattered windshield makes your car undrivable until it is fixed -- and in some cases, a replacement windshield can cost as much as $1,000. If you are “lucky” enough to only have a minor dent in your windshield, an auto shop might be able to repair it rather than replacing the windshield entirely.

So you’re probably wondering: will my insurance cover the cost?

The answer is that it depends. The first step to finding out if your insurance company will replace your glass is to find out if your car insurance policy covers windshields. The type of damage to your glass is what determines whether the glass needs repaired or replaced altogether. If your glass has a crack larger than the size of a dollar bill, it will need to be replaced. Also if the windshield is chipped right in the driver's line of sight, the glass will need to be replaced.

Will My Glass be Repaired?

The ability glass companies have to repair glass is pretty amazing. Sometimes you can't even tell the glass has been repaired. Most of the time when a chip is repaired, it will prevent the chip from spreading into a full-fledged crack.

Filling a chip is a lot cheaper than replacing your entire windshield. Most insurance companies will often waive your deductible if you are just repairing your windshield. Getting a chip filled right away will help ensure the damage does not spread.

Will I Get OEM Glass?

If a full glass replacement is required to fix your windshield, you will certainly get a new piece of glass. Whether or not the glass used to replace your windshield is repaired using original equipment manufacturer parts (OEM) depends on your policy coverage.

Most insurance companies provide coverage for aftermarket parts. Aftermarket parts are cheaper and often very similar to OEM parts. They are produced by companies other than your car manufacturer. If all insurance companies used OEM parts all of the time, no one would be able to afford car insurance. A couple of options are available to get OEM glass replacement in most cases:

Pay the difference out of pocket.

You can typically request OEM glass if you want to and pay the cost of the OEM glass minus the cost of what the insurance company will pay for the aftermarket glass. Prepare for the possibility of several hundred dollars difference in price.

Request a rider (in advance)

When you set up the coverage on your vehicle, request a special rider to receive OEM parts. If you have the rider, you will receive OEM parts no questions asked by the insurance company.

Not all insurance companies offer an OEM rider. If OEM parts are important to you, definitely ask about OEM parts at the time you shop for car insurance. OEM coverage could help you choose what insurance policy you purchase.

What if My Replacement Windshield Leaks at the Seams?

One concern many people have about having a full windshield replacement is whether or not the new glass will leak at the seams. Most glass replacements go off without a hitch. However, as with any car repairs, there is a chance things won't go smoothly.

A way to protect yourself against faulty work is to get a guarantee on the glass ahead of time. Lots of glass companies guarantee their work. Most insurance companies guarantee the work of their preferred glass company as well. Ask your insurance agent or ask the representative fielding your insurance claim who the preferred auto glass company is for your insurance carrier. Any problems with your glass replacement should be taken up with the glass company and not your insurance company unless you’re unable to resolve the issue on your own.

Windshield Replacement Tips

Ask the glass company if they use a primer. Primer treats the surface of the vehicle prepping it for new glass installation. Primer is an extra expense for glass companies and some may cut corners by skipping this step.

Make sure the repairman is wearing gloves. Oils from the skin can cause problems with the glass’s ability to adhere to the metal of the vehicle. Skin oil can also affect chip repairs, so do not touch the chip in your windshield.

Can My Windshield be Replaced at My Home?

Replacing your windshield should be one of the easiest claims to manage. Replacement can be done quickly and often right at your home. Nearly all glass companies have a mobile service. Worst case scenario, you will not get your glass repaired or replaced at home if the weather is bad. Usually, only heavy precipitation or extremely cold weather will deter a glass repairman.