Q

Does car insurance cover broken windows?

A

Yes, glass damage is usually covered by your comprehensive insurance unless the damage was caused during an accident, at which point your collision coverage or the other driver’s liability coverage may apply.

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By

Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in auto insurance. She worked for 21st Century Insurance, BlueCross BlueShield Massachusetts, and HealthPass New York. She also spent two years working as a content expert for dozens of auto insurance websites through 360Quote LLC.

Published August 10, 2021|5 min read

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A falling tree branch. A rock kicked up by another car on the highway. An unexpected hail storm. These are all potential causes of glass damage to your vehicle. You need to have the damage fixed, but does car insurance cover broken windows? 

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The short answer is yes, glass damage is included in your comprehensive coverage, so as long as you have a full coverage policy that includes comprehensive coverage and a full glass benefit, if applicable. There are situations where other types of coverage may pay for glass damage and it is possible to find yourself in a situation where it doesn’t make sense to file a claim, but a broken window is usually covered by your comprehensive insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • Glass repair is covered under your comprehensive coverage

  • The cost to repair or replace a window is usually cheaper than repairing or replacing a windshield because of the differences between the two types of glass

  • Some insurance companies cover glass damage like any other comprehensive claim, while others separate out glass and windshield damage under full glass coverage

  • Some states allow insurance companies to replace a windshield with used glass

Is a broken window covered by car insurance?

Yes, car insurance will cover a broken window as long as the damage was caused by a covered peril. Your auto insurance is broken down into several parts, including:

  • Liability: Liability coverage pays for damage you cause to another person or their property, up to the limits of your policy. Liability coverage is broken into two parts (bodily injury and property damage) and is required by law in most states.

  • Uninsured motorist: Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pays for medical expenses you may have after an accident if the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured. UM coverage is required by law in some states and optional in others.

  • Personal injury protection: Personal injury protection (PIP) covers your medical expenses in an accident, no matter who is at fault. PIP is required in states that have no-fault insurance laws. 

  • Collision: Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle in an accident, no matter who is at fault. Unless you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, collision is an optional coverage in every state.

  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle that is not caused by a collision, including damage from weather, vandalism, fire, etc. Unless you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, comprehensive is an optional coverage in every state.

If you are in an accident and the other driver is at fault, their property damage liability coverage would pay to repair any broken glass. If you are at fault in a collision, your collision coverage would include glass repair. In most other situations, glass breakage is covered by your comprehensive coverage. Drivers who choose not to carry comprehensive coverage don’t have any coverage for broken glass or damaged windshields.

Is a broken windshield covered by car insurance?

If the damage is caused by an accident and the other driver is at fault, their property damage liability coverage will pay to repair or replace your windshield. If the damage is caused by someone else’s negligence (a baseball gets thrown through your window, for example) that person’s liability coverage through their homeowners or renters insurance would pay to repair or replace your windshield.

Your comprehensive coverage would pay to repair or replace your windshield in most other situations, like:

  • A tree branch falling on your windshield

  • A rock flying into your windshield on the highway

  • Acts of vandalism, like someone smashing your windshield with a brick

  • An animal crashing into your windshield

  • Hail damage

Each company has different ways of covering glass damage. Some cover it like any other comprehensive claim, while others separate out glass and windshield damage under full glass coverage, which you’d have to add to your policy.

Full glass coverage

Full glass coverage is a rider to your comprehensive coverage that covers damage to windshield and window glass. In an attempt to encourage drivers to repair windshield damage instead of driving around with cracks and chips blocking their view, some states require full glass coverage to pay for repairs without a deductible.

Full glass coverage can vary significantly from state-to-state or company-to-company, so check with your insurance representative to find out exactly which coverages are available to you. 

If your glass coverage is included in your comprehensive coverage you may be required to meet your regular deductible before they will pay out for glass damage, but many companies offer the option of a separate glass deductible. Companies that have a separate full glass endorsement may have different deductibles or no deductible at all, depending on the policy.

How much does it cost to repair or replace a windshield?

Depending on the type of car you drive, it could cost anywhere from $100 to $1,500 or more to replace your windshield. The idea of spending $1,500 or more to replace your windshield might seem excessive, but heads-up displays or other expensive technologies that are built into the glass can quickly drive up the cost of repairing or replacing your windshield.

Luckily, there are ways to lower your out-of-pocket costs when it comes to glass replacement.

Deductibles

Typically, a good way to save money on insurance is to choose higher deductibles to lower your annual premiums. In this case, however, it may make sense to choose a lower deductible so that the cost of replacing broken glass will be picked up by your insurance company in the event of a claim.

Choosing lower deductibles can go a long way toward reducing your expenses when repairing or replacing a windshield. People with more affordable windshields may find it isn’t worth paying for full glass coverage, but people with high end windshields or who have glass included in their comprehensive benefits may find that choosing a lower deductible can save you hundreds of dollars or more when filing a glass claim.

Used glass

Some states allow insurance companies to replace a windshield with used glass, which means taking an intact windshield from the same make and model car that has been totaled or junked and using it to replace your broken windshield.

This is common, so don’t be afraid to drive with used glass. However, if you don’t want a used windshield you can check your local laws to see if you have the right to request new replacement glass. 

What to do if you don’t have comprehensive insurance

Glass repair is covered under your comprehensive coverage and full glass coverage is an optional rider that is attached to your comprehensive coverage, which means drivers who don’t have comprehensive insurance don’t have coverage for repairing or replacing glass or windshields outside of an accident.

Drivers who don’t have comprehensive insurance and don’t currently have glass damage may want to purchase the coverage. If your car is cheap enough that it doesn’t make sense to have comprehensive coverage in your policy, choosing used glass is a good way to save money when replacing your windshield or other windows.

Should you file a broken windshield insurance claim?

Depending on the cost of the repairs, it may not make sense to file a glass claim. If the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged glass is less than your deductible, paying for the damage out-of-pocket is likely your best option.

If your glass claim costs more than your deductible, it may make sense to file a claim. However, a claim could potentially increase your insurance rates, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to file a comprehensive claim.

What is the difference between broken glass and a broken windshield?

Your windshield is made of laminated glass, which is a type of safety glass that is designed to crack and break without shattering. This is why damage to your windshield so often results in a “spider web” pattern in the glass—it is designed to hold all of the pieces of broken glass in place so they don’t injure you in an accident or if a projectile gets launched into your windshield, like a rock getting kicked up from the road.

Your other windows are usually made from tempered glass, which is glass that has gone through a rapid heating and cooling process to make it much stronger than standard glass. It also breaks into small pebble-like pieces instead of shards, making it safer to use in a car than regular glass. 

The cost to repair or replace a window is quite different from repairing or replacing a windshield because of the differences between the two types of glass.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which states have laws waiving deductibles for full glass coverage?

Only three states — Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina — have laws waiving the deductible for windshield repair or replacement. Referred to as zero deductible states, these states waive the deductible to encourage drivers to get broken glass repaired so it isn’t a hazard while driving.

Does car insurance cover break-ins and vandalism?

Comprehensive insurance does provide coverage for break-ins and vandalism. It also covers damage caused by weather, fire, theft, animal-related damage, falling objects, natural disasters, and damage to glass.

Is glass coverage required?

Comprehensive coverage (which generally covers glass damage) is technically optional, but drivers who finance or lease their cars are usually required by their lenders to carry both comprehensive and collision coverage.

Can I drive with a broken window?

Depending on the amount and location of the damage, you may be legally allowed to drive with a chipped windshield or broken window. However, if the damage is severe or blocks your ability to see the road properly, it is likely illegal to drive until the glass has been repaired. Laws vary from state-to-state, so check your local laws to determine how much (if any) glass damage is allowed while you are driving.