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What should you do if your windshield is cracked or chipped?

Windshield cracks and chips come in all shapes and sizes. Some are relatively easy to fix, while others threaten the structural integrity of your vehicle and require the entire windshield to be replaced. How do you know if your crack or chip can be repaired, and what should you keep in mind when replacing or repairing your windshield? 

How can I tell if a crack or chip in my windshield can be repaired?

Although a windshield crack may not look dangerous, it can significantly weaken the structural integrity of your vehicle. Your windshield is responsible for up to 45% of structural integrity of the cabin in a front-end collision and 60% in a rollover.1 If you have a significant crack, you must replace the windshield to protected you and your loved ones in an accident. 

As a general rule of thumb, a chip bigger than a quarter or a crack over 7.5 cm long cannot be repaired and a windshield replacement is required.1 Additionally, your windshield must be replaced if there are more than three chips or cracks or if the damage penetrates through all layers of your windshield, reaches within 4 cm of the window edge or impedes driver’s vision.2

To prevent a crack from getting worse until you can get it fixed, avoid extreme temperature changes like spraying it with cold water on a hot day or blasting your AC. Be careful if you have to clear ice or snow, and avoid driving aggressively or hitting bumps or potholes.

 Will my insurance cover the repair or replacement?

A cracked windshield falls under comprehensive coverage which covers damage not caused by a collision, such as a stone hitting your windshield. Without comprehensive coverage, the repair will not be covered unless it was caused by a collision.

As windshield repairs are generally inexpensive, your insurer may not make you pay your deductible. If your windshield needs to be fully replaced, your deductible will apply. 

Unless you have a claims-free credit or were at-fault in an accident, submitting a single claim for a cracked windshield will have little to no effect on your premium. However, if you’ve filed multiple comprehensive claims, your insurer may increase your deductible or premium — in this case, discuss the claim with your insurance advisor before submitting to learn how it will impact your policy. 

Why have the costs of windshield replacements increased?

In the past, you may have been able to replace a windshield for $300 or less. However, if you are replacing the windshield on a newer vehicle or one with additional safety technology, you can expect a bill of $700 or more!3

The increased replacement cost is due to the complex nature of the safety features integrated into your windshield. If you have advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot warning or surround view cameras, they typically rely on a camera mounted in the windshield that needs to be recalibrated if the windshield is replaced. If it’s not calibrated correctly your safety system could malfunction and steer your car into traffic, miscalculate distances or engage automatic braking at the wrong time.3 Experts estimate that by 2023, more than half of the cars on the road will be ADAS equipped.3

If you have questions about your auto insurance coverage call 1-800-267-6847. If you would like a quote for auto insurance, contact an OTIP broker at 1-866-561-5559.

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3.    The Globe and Mail

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