Cracks and Chips: Is full glass coverage worth the money?

Do you need extra car insurance to cover damage to your windshield? See more Car Safety Pictures.
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You may love driving, but dealing with car insurance can be such a pain. It's certainly not an expense anyone enjoys paying for, but almost every state in the U.S. requires some basic level of auto insurance coverage. There are so many different types of insurance, though – how do you know which ones you need? Specifically, do you need extra coverage for your windshield and the other windows on your car?

Before we get into specific types of car insurance, however, let's talk about conventional coverage. The most basic auto insurance is liability coverage. This is mandated by most states (the minimum amount varies). It covers injuries to other people and damage to other people's property caused by you when you're driving your car. The next step up is collision coverage; this will pay for damage to your car in the event of a collision. Then there's comprehensive coverage. This pays for damage to your vehicle, as long as it wasn't caused by a collision. Did your car get washed away by a flood? Stolen by a thief? That's what comprehensive coverage is for.

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There are some other types of insurance coverage that cover uninsured drivers, payment for medical expenses and reimbursement for a rental car, but which type of coverage is best if you're worried about a cracked windshield? We'll explain that next.

What is full glass coverage?

If you just have basic liability insurance, windshield and other glass damage isn't covered. Chances are, cracks and chips are not covered by your collision insurance either. This can vary from one insurance company to another, but for the most part, glass coverage doesn't show up unless you have comprehensive insurance. Many comprehensive coverage plans include windshield coverage, and some states may even require it.

However, there are comprehensive plans that don't include damage to glass, or you might want glass coverage without paying for full comprehensive insurance. What's the solution? Many insurance companies offer a rider specifically for glass damage (sometimes it covers just the windshield, sometimes all the windows in the vehicle).

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Now for the $64,000 question: Is paying for glass coverage a good idea? It depends on a few factors. First, of course, is how much your insurer is going to charge you for a glass rider. This will depend on the vehicle, but can range from $100 to several hundred dollars. Next, look at your deductible. This is the amount you pay for repairs out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. If you have a high deductible, chances are the cost of repairing or replacing a damaged windshield won't even meet the deductible, so paying extra for glass coverage is a waste. Finally, consider how likely it is that your windows will be damaged. Lots of driving on gravel roads is usually bad for windows. If you regularly park on the street, your windows might fall victim to a neighborhood street hockey game or a car-breaking thief.

Keep in mind that windshields can be repaired pretty easily these days as long as the damage isn't too severe. Most chips and small cracks can be fixed for a fraction of the cost of replacement -- and a bump in the road can turn a tiny chip into a huge crack. Replacement is even easier, too, with mobile windshield replacement trucks that will come right to your driveway and swap in a brand new windshield in no time.

With all of these factors in mind, in most cases it is not worth the extra money to pay for glass coverage.

Author's Note

To be honest, I'd never thought much about glass coverage. Chips were always just something you lived with until you got a new car a few years later, and cracks were the same unless they were bad enough that you might not pass state inspection. They both happened so rarely that paying extra to insure against it seemed silly. Still, it was interesting to break down the cost-benefit of glass coverage ... only to find out that I was right all along.

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Sources

  • Progressive. "Progressive Windshield Repair & Cracked Windshield Replacement." (April 20, 2012.) http://www.progressiveagent.com/claims/repair-windshield.aspx
  • State Farm. "Types of Auto Insurance Coverage."(April 20, 2012.) http://www.statefarm.com/insurance/auto_insurance/ins_auto_type.asp