Damage to windscreens is quite common so you should probably check your insurance policy details to establish what the cost to you will be of repairing this damage and how it will affect your future insurance premiums. In the past there was a fairly standard treatment across insurance policies – it was free to have your windscreen repaired and for replacement, there was a charge of around £75 (the excess) the rest being covered by the insurer. Neither a claim for glass replacement or repair effected your no claims bonus.
Companies sprouted up to take advantage of this generous treatment by insurance companies. The cost to insurers increased and so predictably they have started to increase costs for policyholders. It is now important for you to understand if you are covered at all, if so how much can you claim, and finally, will it increase the cost of next year’s insurance premium? These days, even if you have a comprehensive policy, it is not safe to assume that windscreen repairs are covered.
Some policies provide full cover and no claims protection, others no cover at all, some offer it as an optional extra and there are plenty of combinations of cover levels and varying excesses.
The excess is the amount that you have to pay for any repair on your car that is not covered by your insurance. For example, your insurance policy may specify a windscreen replacement excess of £80. If your replacement screen costs £500 to replace you will have to pay the first £80 and your insurer will pay the other £420. It is important not to get any repair work performed before contacting your insurer. In some cases, they have a list of approved suppliers and if you get your repair done by anyone else they will make you pay for the whole cost.
Because insurance policy excesses are relatively high for replacement windscreens it can actually be cheaper for you to pay the £20-£50 for a repair rather than claim on your insurance for a replacement. Don’t always rely on the company your insurer suggests, it can pay to get a second opinion from a company that only provides chip repair, rather than screen replacements, as they have no incentive to push you towards a more expensive replacement. Alec Price from Bury St. Edmunds had this experience. He was originally told by the windscreen company recommended by his insurer that a chip could not be repaired, and the entire screen would have to be replaced. He was just about to say ‘go ahead’ when he noticed a chip repair specialist (Optic Kleer) stationed in his local Tesco Car Park. Optic Kleer was able to fix the damage perfectly while Alec was doing his shopping, and in his case, they were able to claim the cost directly from Alec’s insurers.
Most policies say that a claim for glass replacement or repair will not affect your no claims bonus but make sure you have checked your policy’s small print. Whilst it may be true that the cost of your policy with the same insurer will not increase the following year – if you choose to go with a different insurer, in some cases, the cost of the premium will be higher. This can be tested using insurance comparison websites and altering the details you enter. Although the cost difference was small at about £10, if you are paying this over a number of years it can build up. In some cases, repairs by the insurers approved suppliers is fine but replacement of screens will affect your no claims. Again, check your policy documents.
What Glass Is Covered?
The last thing to check your insurance policy documents for is exactly what glass is covered. It is normal for front and back windscreens to be covered by not all policies cover the side glass. In addition, sun and moonroof glass cover is often an optional extra with higher excess payments.
All good comparison websites now include the auto glass options in their quote comparison tables, so you can very quickly compare the differing levels of coverage and excesses.