Is windshield replacement insurance worth it?

Get extra protection for your car's windshield by choosing comprehensive coverage.

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Looking through a cracked car windshield

All it takes is a pebble to chip a car windshield. Or maybe you’re one of the thousands of people who’s woken up to a smashed car window and something missing from the inside of your vehicle.

Glass is one of the most at-risk parts of the car, which is why windshield replacement coverage is included in most comprehensive plans. But if you don’t have comprehensive coverage, you may stuck paying for repairs or replacement out of pocket.

Does car insurance cover broken glass?

It depends on your level of insurance. There 3 typical levels of auto insurance coverage: third-party liability, collision, and comprehensive. Different insurers may have their own conditions, but generally, you can expect comprehensive insurance to cover damage to windows and windshields, as it does other parts of the car. However, be aware that your deductible may rise after multiple claims, making it increasingly more expensive to cover repairs through your policy.

How does a broken glass claim work?

Typically, the extent of the damage determines whether you need to repair or replace the glass as appropriate. Generally, this will simply be done based on the mechanic’s recommendation.

Car insurers will typically offer a lifetime guarantee on all repairs carried out by their approved providers, including glass repair and replacement, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure it’s fixed properly, whether that means repair or replacement.

Depending on the policy, you should be able to claim these costs under car insurance but:

  • You will need to pay your car insurance deductible
  • Your premiums might increase or you might lose a no claims bonus

This is where the no deductible glass replacement car insurance add-on comes in.

How does a windshield replacement add-on work?

If available through your insurer, this extra-cost option raises your premiums, but lets you make claims for broken glass only without needing to pay the deductible. Where applicable, it may also let you keep your no claims bonus.

This typically covers broken sunroofs, windows, and windshields, but not mirrors, dashboard screens or similar.

It’s generally not unlimited though. In many cases, you will only be able to exercise this option once every 12 months.

Typically, it will not affect your coverage in any way except in that it lets you make broken glass claims without paying a deductible or losing applicable bonuses.

Can I choose my own repair shop?

Yes, you can choose your own repairer for broken glass and windshields, but be sure to check your policy terms to confirm. Your insurance company may have a list of preferred repair shops which could be easier to work with.

However, if you’re only going for repairs rather than a replacement, it might be worth going for one of the insurer’s repairers to take advantage of the widely available lifetime repairs guarantee option.

How much does it cost to replace car windows and windshields without insurance?

The cost can vary widely. While repairing cracks and chips can cost less than $100, replacing a windshield generally costs between $250 and $1,000, depending on a few factors:

  • The size of the window needing replacement
  • The type of glass used in that car model, and if there are any extra features like rain-sensors
  • The cost of labor and equipment used to carry out repairs

In most situations, it will typically cost more to pay for repairs out of pocket than it would to claim it on car insurance.

Why get comprehensive coverage?

If you think there’s a reasonable likelihood of needing to replace a window or your windshield, it might be worth it. Unlike the other two tiers of coverage, comprehensive coverage covers any damage related to your car regardless if it was from a collision, theft or weather. If you’re comfortable with paying the higher premiums of this option but would struggle to pay the cost of fixing or repairing a broken window or windscreen, then you may want to consider it.

Driving around with a broken window is unsafe, and can end up causing damage to your or someone else’s car that won’t necessarily be covered by insurance.

  • Windows and the windshield contribute to a car’s structural integrity, so accident damage might be more severe.
  • If the accident could be said to result from the broken glass, for example, if you were distracted by something flying in through the broken window, then an insurer might deny a claim on the basis that you shouldn’t have been driving the car.
  • Water damage, electronics failures, rust and other deterioration generally isn’t covered by car insurance. You probably wouldn’t want to drive in the rain with a broken window.

Generally, you want to make sure you’re in a position to get broken glass repaired as soon as possible, whether it’s out of pocket or through insurance.

Pros and cons of comprehensive insurance coverage

  • No out of pocket expenses
  • Usually no effect on premiums or discounts
  • Often able to choose your own repairer or get lifetime repairs guarantee with recommended repairer
  • Typically available once a year
  • Chips can usually be covered easily out of pocket
  • Mirrors not usually covered

Is windshield replacement worth it?

There are a few different ways to handle damaged glass, with or without car insurance.

  • Paying out of pocket: You might decide to pay for it out of pocket, in order to avoid paying a car insurance deductible and to avoid affecting your insurance premiums. If it’s just a minor repair, this might be the way to go.
  • Claiming it on car insurance without the no deductible glass option: You might decide to claim it on car insurance anyway as it might cost less to pay the deductible. However, this might affect your car insurance premiums going forward.
  • Claiming it on car insurance with the no deductible glass option: It might be worth claiming. After all, that’s why you have this add-on in the first place. You won’t need to pay the deductible, but your premiums might still be affected going forward.

Can I drive with a cracked windshield?

It depends on where you live. Every province has different laws regarding cracked windshields, so you may get a ticket and pay a fine if the crack is bad enough. Your car might also not pass inspection.

While rules will vary by province, your car generally isn’t considered road safe if:

  • A windshield crack impairs the driver’s vision.
  • A chip or crack is more than 3/4″ in diameter or 6″ or longer.
  • A chip or crack extends through the entire thickness of the windshield.

All of these represent fairly severe windshield damage. Car windshields are multi-layered, laminated and fairly durable, so these types of things will generally only result from either a serious incident or unrepaired damage over time. That’s why it’s typically worth getting damaged glass repaired before it turns into broken glass.

Bottom line

There are a few different ways to handle damaged glass, with or without car insurance. Whether or not a windshield replacement is worth it is entirely up to you, but you should always weigh your options. Consider getting comprehensive insurance coverage to give you peace of mind.

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