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How often have you had to replace your windshield?
August 26, 2013 11:28 AM   Subscribe

The cost of replacing my cracked windshield will be out of my own pocket because it's less than my insurance's deductible. Is this likely to happen again, and is it therefore worth paying for a lowered deductible?

This past weekend, a rock hit my windshield leaving a big impact mark and long radiating cracks...too big to be repaired and the windshield definitely needs replacing. While researching the best auto-glass place/price, I found a couple forums where some people claimed they've had to replace their windshields two or three times - this is on street cars, not offroad vehicles. In those same forums, more than one person mentioned paying a bit more for insurance to get the windshield-replacement deductible lowered to $0.

Now I'm wondering whether I've lived a charmed life up to now, windshield-wise; I've been driving 37 years, and this is the first time this has ever happened to me. So my question is this: is windshield damage and replacement statistically common enough to warrant raising my insurance to lower my deductible, assuming my insurance company even offers that? Or is this a rare enough occurrence that I'm better off paying out of my own pocket if - by unlikely chance - it does happen again? All I can find online about this topic is by Jeep owners, who I assume take their car offroad where it's more likely for stuff to hit and break windshields.
posted by Greg_Ace to Grab Bag (31 answers total)
 
I haven't needed to replace a windshield, but I've had a number of significant chips repaired under my policy's glass coverage. My understanding is that big chips can cause cracks down the line if not repaired. Tough to answer the question without knowing what it would cost you to add the coverage to your policy though. Also relevant: how many miles you drive per year, the weather in your area, and how often you drive on gravel roads.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:35 AM on August 26, 2013


I had to replace mine in 2012 and a few months later, got another fairly worrying chip. But then the car got totalled, so I didn't have to worry about it. (Sigh.)

A client of mine from Japan, who'd been driving for 25 years in Japan, said he had never even had a chip in Japan. In 2 years of living in CA, his windshield was repaired once and replaced twice.

At this point, given how much debris is on California highways and how much construction there is (and thus how many gravel trucks there are), I'm just expecting to have to replace it occasionally. That said, I'm not sure how much it would cost to both lower the deductible and make claims.
posted by wintersweet at 11:36 AM on August 26, 2013


i suspect where you live (b/c of weather and road conditions) may have something to do with how often your windshield will be cracked, so i don't know if other's anecdotes will help.

however, check with your insurance co. mine offers glass coverage for a reasonable yearly fee. it includes crack repairs and replaced windshields for low/no out-of-pocket, and the technicians will come to your home/office to do the work.

FWIW, i've had to replace my windshield twice. once for a persistent leak, the other because the back windshield was broken by vandals. i've also had cracks repaired 2-3 times.
posted by smokyjoe at 11:36 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Usually windshield is exempt from deductible. Double check that.

I'd say I do one every 4 years or so.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:37 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The insurance company has actuaries who calculate the statistical chances of a replaced windshield and they then charge slightly more to cover that. Assuming you are a statistically average driver, you can expect to pay more for the insurance than the occasional windshield. Of course there's no way to guess in your particular driving lifetime which way comes out ahead.
posted by Durin's Bane at 11:37 AM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've been driving 37 years, and this is the first time this has ever happened to me.

I do not understand why you think that now this extremely infrequent event is suddenly going to become commonplace.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:38 AM on August 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've been driving 13 years. I never had a windscreen replacement, except for 3 years ago when I had to replace it 3 times in 4 months (actually it was the rear screen twice and the front screen once). It was just a series of unfortunately unrelated events. Averaged out that's about 1 every 4 years, same as Ruthless Bunny.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:38 AM on August 26, 2013


is windshield damage and replacement statistically common enough to warrant raising my insurance to lower my deductible, assuming my insurance company even offers that?

Insurance policies are always priced such that the chance of an event happening (windshield crack) times the cost of the event happening (the windshield replacement) is lower than the premiums you pay on the policy. In other words, it's not beneficial for you to use insurance for expected car repairs (like a windshield). The insurer has many actuaries that make sure this occurs, because if their calculations were wrong, the insurer would almost instantaneously go out of business.

The principle you should be looking at here is self-insurance.
posted by saeculorum at 11:38 AM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Totally depends where you live and where you drive. Some roads have more rocks and more trucks that kick up those rocks than others.
posted by mskyle at 11:39 AM on August 26, 2013


It's a freak accident. I've been driving for almost two decades and have never had to replace a windshield. My father had to replace the windshield in his van twice that I can recall while I was a kid.

It happens. You can't especially predict it.

Having said all of that: here is why you buy insurance. You buy insurance against those high-cost, rare events which you would not easily be able to pay for out of pocket. Only you know whether the freak very occasional $500 windshield expense is worse for you than the monthly $5 or whatever your insurance company will charge.

I wouldn't get it, though, because I value the flexibility and liquidity of cash which can be applied against a multitude of such small risks. Putting $5/mo against this one freak accident means I can't save that $5 to spend on any number of other freak accidents which might occur.
posted by gauche at 11:40 AM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my state I couldn't have passed inspection with a cracked windshield. I just bit it and paid out of pocket. About $250. Mind you I waited until the last minute before inspection before I had it replaced which was a few months so I had plenty of time to save up.
posted by PJMoore at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2013


Seconding to double-check that your windshield isn't exempt from deductible, every auto insurance policy I've ever had will do windshield replacement/repair with no deductible, or at least with a significantly lower out-of-pocket cost than my $500 deductible.

And anecdotally, I've had to have one repair and one replacement in the last ~10 years of driving.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should have clarified that I spent most of my life in the southeastern US and only recently started driving in NW Oregon, and one reason I asked this question is because I wasn't sure how much difference that's going to make.

Apparently Oregon is one of the states that doesn't require $0-deductible windshield replacement.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:48 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


rabbitrabbit: Seconding to double-check that your windshield isn't exempt from deductible, every auto insurance policy I've ever had will do windshield replacement/repair with no deductible, or at least with a significantly lower out-of-pocket cost than my $500 deductible.

This really varies by state. When I lived in Massachusetts, my understanding was that auto insurance was required to cover windshield replacement exempt from deductible. I probably replaced my windshield every 20,000 miles or so when I lived there. In North Carolina it is not automatically covered, but I've only had a tiny chip that was repairable (my insurance did cover that) in probably 60,000 miles of driving.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:06 PM on August 26, 2013


Even if it is not exempt from your deductible, it may be classified as a "no fault" event that won't affect your rates. So you could still take care of it under your insurance, and then if you have another event this year you'll have less of the deductible left to pay.
posted by Kriesa at 12:13 PM on August 26, 2013


I've had to replace it twice (different cars) in the last 5 years. At least here in Houston Groupon has a deal at least once a month. The cost of replacing it via the Groupon was cheaper than my deductible for one car (Toyota), but not the other (Mini Cooper, which has some kind of sensor).
posted by Runes at 12:14 PM on August 26, 2013


I've replaced four windshields on two vehicles in the last 15 years, all from rock chips. I live in a mid-sized American city and don't often drive near the local rock quarries or dirt roads. I'm not a tailgater. I drive 10,000 to 12,000 miles per year. My deductible is $100, which has saved me untold amounts of money.
posted by cnc at 12:31 PM on August 26, 2013


I think the issue isn't so much "does the state require" replacement regardless of deductible, but whether or not you bought that kind of coverage.

In my state, it's a very cheap add-on -- and they ask you specifically "do you want windshield coverage?" or "do you want glass coverage?"

I always say yes -- in 25+ years of driving, I've had two chips -- one was fixable without replacing the whole window. Totally worth it. They'll often come take care of it right in the parking lot at my job.
posted by vitabellosi at 12:37 PM on August 26, 2013


Something that most people don't notice on windshields is that the degrade over time with pitting from dust and sand impacts. It happens slowly and gradually but when that windshield is replaced with a new clear one it is a remarkable difference, especially at twilight and night. All those minute pits and scratches cause a lot of glare.

The other thing that degrades over time is the thin plastic film between the two layers of glass that make up windshields (safety glass). It yellows and just slowly goes opaque, especially in areas with a bright sun and high temperatures.

So periodic replacement of windshields is a good idea anyway, and if you have a significant crack or damage it is even more important to change it. I have brought a lot of older neglected cars back to life and i generally count on windshield replacement on any car more than 10 years old.
posted by bartonlong at 12:43 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


About 17-18 years ago I had to replace my windshield twice in a flabbergastingly short time frame. Hasn't happened since.
posted by Lucinda at 12:46 PM on August 26, 2013


In three decades of driving, I've had two windshields chipped by rocks that needed to be repaired (one just a couple weeks ago), and one windshield replaced after a tree limb fell on it while I was driving at 50 mph on a 2-lane highway—fun! Fortunately it was the passenger side, so I could see.

These incidents occurred in Michigan, Massachusetts, and Ohio, respectively.
posted by brianogilvie at 12:50 PM on August 26, 2013


Over the 30-or-so years of car ownership, I've had to replace about three windshields, and they've never been subject to a deductible. Safelite came to my house, replaced the windshields, then left. I never wrote a single check, nor did the repair ever affect my rates, as far as I can tell.

The only time I can imagine windshield replacement would be subject to deductible is when it was broken because of an accident that was your fault.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:06 PM on August 26, 2013


Twelve years of driving in the UK. No chips, no replacements.
posted by knapah at 1:07 PM on August 26, 2013


Insurance policies are always priced such that the chance of an event happening (windshield crack) times the cost of the event happening (the windshield replacement) is lower than the premiums you pay on the policy. In other words, it's not beneficial for you to use insurance for expected car repairs (like a windshield). The insurer has many actuaries that make sure this occurs, because if their calculations were wrong, the insurer would almost instantaneously go out of business.

That's not exactly true. Their calculations don't care about the individual. They just know that out of 1000 people insured, 18 (made up numbers) are likely to have a damaged windshield in a year. So they split the cost of the 18 windshields plus profit across the 1000 people. If you own 1000 cars, yes it would be cheaper to self-insure. But you don't, so it becomes valuable to you to spread the risk around.

Windshields aren't expected repairs. They happen more or less randomly, and there is no connection between a first replacement and a subsequent replacement. So some people in the population of insured people are going to win, some are going to lose.
posted by gjc at 1:42 PM on August 26, 2013


Twenty-five+ years driving, never needed a new windshield if I didn't need a new car attached to it.

I'd look into the additional cost regardless. Some of these riders are unbelievably cheap; I have one on my insurance for rental coverage in case of an accident and it's about $1.10 a quarter. You could not self-insure enough in your life to cover one week-long claim. Possible windshield is similarly priced in your state.
posted by phearlez at 1:45 PM on August 26, 2013


My insurance policy has glass coverage. Over the course of 35 years driving, I have replaced 3 windshields and one of my back windows. 2 of the windshields resulted from debris hitting it and the third was an errant pass with a lacrosse ball. My back window was from a cyclist going through it, but that is another story. I have had large stones hit my windshield at highway speed and no damage as well as small things hit it that caused large cracks. It is random.

I think you simply need to price glass coverage and make your own determination if you think it worth it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:49 PM on August 26, 2013


I've heard that certain routes tend to be more windshield-breaking than others, with more loose rocks flying around on the road.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:26 PM on August 26, 2013


My windshield was hit by flying rocks three times in the last 10 years.
It wasn't until the last incident that a deep enough crack appeared and I had to replace it.

I second the idea of saving the money on your own because while I've only needed to replace the windshield once, I've had to pay for various other kinds of damage, as I have run over wooden planks, nails, concrete, and spinning hub caps in the freeway lanes, all causing damage to my hood and tires.

I love LA freeways.
posted by calgirl at 2:43 PM on August 26, 2013


Driven about 200,000 miles in the UK between 2004-2010 and had to replace windscreen 3x all due to rocks on motorways. Not owned a car since then.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:54 PM on August 26, 2013


I've replaced two windshields (different cars) in the 40-plus years I've been driving.

In both cases, the broken glass was caused by rocks thrown up by trucks on highways; in both, the replacement costs were well below my deductible --- I'm not thrilled by having to pay out of pocket, but I've chosen to keep a high deductible to help keep overall insurance costs low. Overall, over time, I'd say the high deductible has been worth it.
posted by easily confused at 2:57 PM on August 26, 2013


From my first vehicle in 1989 through 2011 I replaced zero windshields and repaired zero windshield cracks. In the last 14 odd months I had two chip repairs, one of which failed and resulted in a new windshield in the same 2011 Corolla.

Law of averages I guess.
posted by COD at 6:06 PM on August 26, 2013


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