The first thing to do when you notice a chip or crack in your windscreen is to act. It’s only going to get worse over time, so the quicker you do something, the easier it will be to repair it rather than having to replace the entire screen.
Here’s what to do…
Dig out insurance paperwork
First of all, you need to consult your car insurance documents.
The way insurers treat windscreens varies from company to company, but the majority cover replacement windscreens or repairs. Most insurers have preferred windscreen companies; so you contact that contractor, they come to deal with the windscreen and your insurer picks up the tab. Where it can differ is in how much it might cost you.
The Devil is in the detail
Some insurers don’t charge any excess (the amount of money you pay towards the claim) as long as you use their preferred windscreen company. Some will charge excess for replacements but not repairs. Others will make you pay the excess whoever you go to and whatever you've done.
Of course, the excess varies from company to company. With some insurers, the excess can be so high it’s cheaper to pay from your own pocket. This is why it’s important to check your insurance policy before you start ringing around windscreen companies.
Windscreen cover is a good thing
The good news is, windscreen repair companies are used to dealing with insurers and it’s in their interests for you to use their services. So they’re on your side and will usually help to smooth the process.
If, for whatever reason, your insurance doesn’t cover windscreen repair or replacement, you may be pleasantly surprised at how affordable a small and simple repair can be. Conversely, if your car has features such as rain-sensing windscreen wipers, or a heated or panoramic windscreen, you may be horrified at the cost of a replacement.
Will windscreen repair affect your premium or no claim discount?
It’s worth mentioning you’ve made a windscreen claim when an insurer asks if you’ve used your insurance, because technically you have.
How they then use that information depends entirely on individual insurers. Some will take a year off your no claim discount if you’ve made a windscreen claim, some might increase your next premium. Others won’t be in the slightest bit interested.
Do you need to have a stone chip repaired?
No matter how small a chip in a windscreen is - it needs repairing. This is because any imperfection is a weakness in the windscreen’s surface.
According to Autoglass, the windscreen provides up to 30% of a car’s structural strength. As a lot of force goes through it, particularly over our notoriously rough roads, a chip can develop into a crack at any point. While chips can be repaired, cracks can’t. So it’s potentially a lot cheaper to have windscreen damage assessed and fixed promptly before it deteriorates.
Where do you stand legally with a stone chipped screen?
Windscreens are split into A, B, C and D zones, for the sake of the annual MOT roadworthiness test.
The A zone is 290mm wide and centred on the steering wheel. If you have a chip in that area, it can only be repaired if it’s 10mm in diameter or less. Damage of up to 40mm or less can be repaired if it’s elsewhere on the screen.
How do windscreen repair services work?
To repair a chipped windscreen, the technician cleans the area then fills it with a clear resin that has a similar optical property to glass. This enables you to see through it, prevents dirt or moisture getting in and vibrations affecting it - all of which can cause the screen to crack.