Driving with a cracked or pitted windshield is dangerous, making it important to replace a damaged windshield ASAP. Depending on where you live — from Apache Junction, Arizona to Boston, Massachusetts and points in between — you could qualify for a free windshield replacement. Here’s what you need to know about free windshield replacement laws and auto insurance.
Federal regulations set by the U.S. Department of Transportation state the minimum requirements for windshield conditions and visibility in the country and require each state to enforce the obligations. The regulations require the center of the windshield to be free of damage and define the center area as that above the steering wheel as far as one inch from each side and two inches from the top. There may be a single crack in the space if it has no intersecting cracks.
Each state has its own Department of Transportation and may set regulations that go beyond those of the national requirements. Many states leave it up to law-enforcement officers to determine whether a windshield’s damage creates visual impairment. Some states also regulate the way in which insurance companies deal with windshield replacement and repair, and most state laws have regulations concerning insurance companies using aftermarket or used replacement windshields.
What are Free Windshield Replacement Laws?
Free windshield replacement laws are tied into state insurance laws, which are set by individual states. If you live in a state that has specific insurance requirements related to auto glass replacement, your insurance company may be required to pay for your windshield repair or replacement in full — even if you have a deductible. Note that free windshield replacement laws cover the comprehensive portion of an auto policy, not liability. Thus, free windshield replacement laws typically apply only to policyholders with comprehensive auto insurance.
For example, let’s say that you live in Louisville, Kentucky (a state with a windshield replacement law), have full coverage on your automobile with a $250 deductible, and have a large crack in your windshield. In Kentucky, your insurance company would waive that $250 deductible and you’d receive a free auto glass replacement. The same is true if you lived in Owensboro, Covington, Richmond, or Hopkinsville. Florida has a similar law, so if you live in Miami, Jacksonville, or Orlando, Florida and have a cracked windshield, you likely have a legitimate claim for a free windshield replacement.
In contrast, if you lived in a state without a windshield replacement law, your insurance company would not be obligated to cover the entire replacement — and you would be expected to pay your insurance deductible.
Which States have Free Windshield Replacement Laws?
The following states have insurance laws that specifically address windshield replacement or repair:
- Kentucky — A “zero deductible” state when it comes to windshield replacement and auto glass replacement.
- Florida — Florida also requires insurers to waive the deductible on windshield claims (but not necessarily on other auto glass).
- Arizona — In Arizona, from Avondale, Peoria, Scottsdale, and Tempe to Chandler, Flagstaff, Gilbert, Glendale, Phoenix, Surprise, Tucson, Mesa, and beyond, you have the option of purchasing a separate auto glass endorsement or waiver when you purchase auto insurance. If you have such an endorsement or waiver, you will not need to pay your full deductible when you have your windshield replaced.
- Massachusetts — Massachusetts is frequently cited as a “zero deductible” state, but that’s a bit of a misnomer in this case. You may have friends in Worcester who paid nothing while another friend in Springfield and your coworker in Lowell, Massachusetts had to pay a $100 deductible. The reason for varying rates has to do with the option to get a separate auto glass deductible on your policy. Whether you live in Cambridge, New Bedford, or Brockton, the choice you make when purchasing your auto insurance policy will impact whether or not you get a free windshield replacement as part of your insurance claim. In Massachusetts, you have the option to purchase a comprehensive policy with free windshield repair and replacement or a policy with a $100 windshield deductible.
- New York — In New York, insurance companies can offer policies that do not have a deductible for auto glass replacement.
- South Carolina — Another “zero deductible” state for windshield and auto glass replacement claims. Whether you live in Columbia, Charleston, North Charleston, Rock Hill, Greenville, Summerville, or Sumter — or anywhere else in South Carolina for that matter, if you have comprehensive auto insurance and a damaged windshield, you will likely qualify for a free windshield replacement.
What About Other Auto Glass Replacements?
Currently just two states, Kentucky and South Carolina, extend their glass replacement requirements to other types of auto glass such as door glass, vent glass, quarter glass, and back glass. If you live in Bowling Green, Kentucky and have a valid glass claim on your comprehensive insurance for your rear window, you’ll likely receive free auto glass replacement.
Meanwhile, policyholders in Florida communities, such as St. Petersburg, Hialeah, Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, Port Saint Lucie, Pembroke Pines, Cape Coral, Hollywood, Gainesville, Miramar, Coral Springs, Clearwater, Miami Gardens, or Palm Bay, have zero deductibles on their windshield claims only. All other auto glass claims are subject to their regular comprehensive deductibles.
What About Free Windshield Repairs?
Windshield repairs are a viable alternative to windshield replacements in some cases, such as when the damage is smaller than the size of a quarter and not in the driver’s direct line of sight. Most insurance companies, though not all, will waive the deductible for these repairs regardless of the state the policyholder lives in. This is considered a courtesy and is not typically mandated by state insurance law.
Because of the high cost of insurance, many vehicle owners choose to carry only liability coverage on their autos to meet their states’ minimum insurance requirements, and those policies pay only for damage to other vehicles. People must have current auto insurance policies that cover comprehensive damage to their vehicles in order to qualify for windshield replacement or repair with no deductible. Some insurance companies have certain policies that include comprehensive coverage but require policyholders to purchase additional coverage if they want the option of free windshield replacement or repair.
Known as Zero Deductible States, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts and South Carolina require insurance companies to allow those with comprehensive insurance on their vehicles to pay for and add windshield replacement with no deductible to their policies. Policies in Massachusetts and Florida must fully cover only windshields, but those in South Carolina and Kentucky must cover replacement of other glass as well.
Insurers in New York may offer auto policies that do not have deductibles for glass, and companies in Minnesota must offer their customers coverage for full-glass replacement, but the coverage is optional. People in Massachusetts who have comprehensive insurance coverage can choose to purchase policies with either free windshield repair or replacement or with $100 deductibles for windshield coverage. In Connecticut, customers can pay for optional, full-glass insurance coverage, which covers broken windshields and other safety glass with no deductible.
Insurance companies in other states often offer policies similar to those in states with no deductible and provide windshield repair or replacement without cost to their policyholders as well. Even if their policies do not specifically mention windshield repair or replacement with no deductible, policyholders should inquire about no deductible or reduced deductible if they have damaged windshields. Insurance companies realize that it is less expensive to repair a crack or hole while it is small rather than to wait until it spreads over a larger area of the windshield. They also know that their customers are more likely to take care of damaged windshields quickly when they are aware that the insurers will pay the total charges.
You can find more information about state-specific laws on our our State-by-State Information page.
How the Process Works
Insurance companies generally do not consider windshield damage a claim on a policy and do not raise premiums for those who get windshield replacement with no deductible.
Most insurance companies prefer that policyholders report windshield damage to their insurance agents as soon as possible, and some companies have websites where people can report claims online. In either case, claims representatives work with the customers to determine that they have the correct insurance coverage and then arrange for glass repair or replacement.
However, many glass companies want people with damaged windshields to contact their repair shops before making claims with insurance companies. The glass companies usually verify coverage, file claims, handle necessary paperwork and deal with insurance companies, but customers usually need to communicate with their insurance representatives as well to confirm certain information.
Many states require insurance companies to allow their customers to decide which auto-glass shops complete the windshield replacement or repair on their vehicles. In states without that requirement, some insurance companies want policyholders to use body shops within the insurers’ networks or different auto-glass shops that accept the insurance companies’ pre-determined prices. Most insurance companies allow their policyholders to choose their repair shops if the customers agree to pay for any differences in cost.
Many auto-glass shops send technicians to their customers’ homes or workplaces to complete windshield repairs or replacements as a convenience for the customers, and most shops complete the jobs within 48 hours of their initial orders.
Regulations describe the glass in automobiles as safety devices, and it is usually a violation to drive with impaired vision or poorly functioning safety devices. Therefore, it is important for owners to repair or replace damaged windshields as quickly as possible after incidents occur.
- If you live in Kentucky, Florida, or South Carolina and have comprehensive auto insurance, there’s a good chance that you’ll qualify for a free windshield replacement.
- If you live in Arizona, Massachusetts, or New York, you may have a separate glass endorsement, $0, or $100 glass deductible.
- If you live in any other state, check your insurance policy to determine your comprehensive deductible. Depending on your deductible amount, it may make sense to attempt a free windshield repair first.