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Insurance guidelines for chipped windshields
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Insurance guidelines for chipped windshields

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You've all seen the signs on dump trucks flying down the Mingo Valley Expressway: "Keep back 200 feet. Not responsible for cracked windshields."

This is true, but that's not the end of it. Under standard auto insurance policies, debris flying from one vehicle onto another, and damaging it, is not the responsibility of the offending vehicle - unless it's a truck that has no mud flaps.

Such damage must be covered by the victims' "comprehensive coverage" portion of their auto insurance policy, says the Insurance Information Institute article "Crash course in auto insurance: III provides tips to make sure you are fully protected." See tulsaworld.com/IIIcomprehensive

The state-required "minimum liability insurance" falls far short of covering your car for everything it is likely to encounter over its lifespan. This includes bouncing rocks from dump trucks that ding your windshield.

The three basic coverage portions you should pay extra for (and not drop to save 15 percent, etc.) are comprehensive, collision and uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Comprehensive coverage reimburses you for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object - fire, falling objects, missiles, explosion, earthquake, windstorm, hail, flood, vandalism, riot or contact with wild animals such as birds, deer and moose. Comprehensive also reimburses you if your windshield is cracked or shattered; some companies may waive the deductible on the glass portion of this coverage.

Most insurance companies can place a "glass-coverage endorsement" on an auto insurance policy to cover debris-damaged windshields. The little extra is typically $10 or less per six-month coverage period, depending on the make and model of vehicle. This reduces your deductible just for the windshield, usually to about $100. It can also repair your windshield for free if such repairs are possible and more practical than replacement.

The glass-coverage endorsement reduces your deductible - from $500 to $1,000 down to $100, and simple repairs of chips are covered at no cost to you. On older vehicles, the endorsement is only $3 to $5 per six months coverage and is added to the extras you are paying for every time you submit your premium. The insurance agent must inspect your windshield before adding the coverage to ensure it is not already chipped or cracked.

In Oklahoma, big trucks are required by law to have mud flaps. All trucks "not equipped with fenders over the rear-most wheels must have rubber or fabric aprons, directly in the rear of the rear-most wheels and hanging perpendicular from the body of the vehicle." These must be of adequate size to keep spray from being thrown up into the path of following vehicles.

Drivers failing to comply can be fined for not having flaps. However, if a properly equipped truck picks up a rock from the road and it is flung at a following vehicle, breaking its windshield, the truck driver is not negligent and therefore not liable, said the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.


Chipped glass easy fix if handled early

Safelite Auto Glass is among companies that can send personnel to your residence or place of employment to fix a chipped windshield. See tulsaworld.com/safeliteautoglass

The repair is performed by using an acrylic resin to seal the crack lines in the star-chip, stopping them from migrating outward - as usually happens over the winter when snow and rain freeze to your windshield, causing uneven contraction around the chip. Windshield replacements can cost $400 to $500 or as little as $150, depending on the vehicle.

"Fourteen percent of vehicles require vehicle glass service every year," says the Safelite website, "and, if you have a chip in your windshield, 90 percent will crack within three years. When you have a big crack, it's easy for drivers to know they need it fixed, but a chip in the windshield also needs attention. Your windshield provides 30 percent of the vehicle's structural strength, and the airbag on the passenger side relies on the support of the windshield once it is activated."

A chip could turn into a crack at any time, often when you least expect it. Windshield repair is often a safe and economical alternative to a full windshield replacement. Not all blemishes are really chips. Sometimes there are scratches or pits in the surface. Unless these are in the line of vision, it causes no real threat.

However, a chip is made of thousands of micro cracks, and a strong jolt or extreme temperature change can turn it into a much larger crack. These types of chips can easily and quickly be repaired. Windshield repair takes less than 30 minutes to complete.

Safelite's certified repair specialists can repair chips, nicks and cracks up to 6 inches long. A quality windshield repair will restore the structural integrity of the windshield, help prevent the damage from spreading, and make the blemish less noticeable without removing and replacing the glass.

An affordable solution, repairing a windshield is also a good value. If you have comprehensive insurance coverage, and if you choose to have your windshield repaired rather than replaced, most insurers will waive your deductible, leaving no costs for you.


Tulsa World consumer writer Phil Mulkins wants to know which topics interest you. Call 918-699-8888, email your suggestion to phil.mulkins@tulsaworld.com or mail it to Tulsa World Consumer, P.O. Box 1770, Tulsa, OK 74102-1770.

Original Print Headline: Insurance tips for rock chips

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