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Windscreen cover explained

It’s surprising how easy it is to damage your windscreen. A stray stone flicked up by a passing car could be enough to chip the glass.

But even minor damage could cause severe longer-term problems and quickly turn into large cracks.

This could mean you need a windscreen repair or worse, a total windscreen replacement.

So, here's how you protect your screen – and what you do if it gets damaged.

Windscreen with damage

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What is windscreen cover?

One way to take the stress, hassle and expense of a cracked or chipped windscreen is to arrange windscreen cover.

This is an add-on to your policy that pays out if you need a windscreen repair or windscreen replacement. It may be included as standard in your car insurance but you often need to buy it as an optional extra.

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Do I need windscreen cover insurance?

This all comes down to personal preference. If you're comfortable paying for repairs as and when they're needed you may not think it's a necessity. But if you don't relish surprise bills or put off arranging repairs, windscreen cover could be a good investment.

 

Does my car insurance cover windscreen repairs?

It all depends on your policy. If you have fully comprehensive car insurance then it’s more likely to be included as standard. However, you need to check as this isn’t guaranteed.

It’s less likely to be part of a third-party, fire and theft policy. In those cases, you need to see if it can be arranged as a bolt-on extra or look for standalone cover.

The good news is that such cover shouldn't cost a fortune. You might be able to get it for around £30.

 

Does windscreen cover count as a claim?

Some insurers might make an exception for windscreen claims and not count them towards your no-claims bonus. However, this depends on the insurer so you need to check with them.

Either way, it’s important you tell the truth about windscreen repair claims when asked at renewal.

 

Do I have to declare a windscreen claim on my insurance policy?

Yes, when renewing your policy, you're be asked if you've made a claim on your car insurance in the previous year. Failing to disclose claims for windscreen repairs or windscreen replacements means you risk invalidating your car insurance.

 

How many car windscreen cover claims can I make?

It all depends on the windscreen cover and the provider. Some policies allow an unlimited number of repairs to be carried out.

Others might set a limit on how much you can claim each year. Once that limit is reached, further claims for the same type of damage may not be allowed.

 

If I make a claim, will I have to pay any excess?

You might have to pay an excess – which is the contribution you pay towards the claim – but it depends on the policy.

Some insurers might repair windscreens free of charge, as long as you use their preferred provider. Others could levy fees of around £25.

Similarly, with a windscreen replacement, you might be looking at an excess of around £75 in some cases. Check the wording of your policy – or clarify it when you’re comparing quotes.

 

What causes windscreen cracks and chips?

Even careful drivers can crack their windscreens. The most common reasons for chips and cracks in your windscreen include:

  • Road debris hitting the glass. This can happen while you’re driving or even when the car is parked. This could come from a freshly-laid bit of road, or something kicked up by a passing lorry.
  • Bad weather. Tree branches or hailstones are particular perils, especially during strong winds and storms.
  • Sudden changes in temperature. Prime examples are using boiling water to defrost the glass or leaving your car in direct sunlight on hot days. These sudden rises and falls in temperature could cause the glass to rapidly expand and contract, causing it to shatter.
  • Collisions. Having a prang could also cause your screen to crack.
 

Can you drive with a cracked windscreen?

It’s never advisable – and might be illegal. Your windscreen is vital to your safety and any damage could potentially harm your vision. Why take the risk?

Legally, whether you can still drive depends on the size of the crack and where it is on the screen.

Windscreens are divided into 4 zones and each one has a size limit for repairable damage. If the damage exceeds these limits it needs to be replaced.

For example, Zone A is 290mm wide and is centred on the steering wheel. This effectively means the area directly in the driver's line of vision.

Chips on this part can only be a maximum of 10mm in diameter.

However, damage at the farthest side of the screen, away from the driver, can be up to 40mm.

Remember – a cracked windscreen that obscures your view could result in a 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine.

And if you have an accident then you might find yourself charged with a more serious driving offence if the damage was a contributory factor.

 

Will my car fail its MOT with a chipped windscreen?

Whether your car fails its MOT all depends on the size and location of the windscreen chip or crack. If the chip is larger than 10mm in the 'Zone A' mentioned above, an inspector is likely to fail your car's MOT. Outside of Zone A, any chips larger than 40mm might see your car fail its MOT.

So, if windscreen chips or cracks are likely to impact your view of the road while driving, it could be at risk of failing the MOT.

 

Why is windscreen cover important?

Even though there's an excess to pay, windscreen cover excesses are often less than if you made a claim on your standard car insurance policy.

You might be tempted to ignore a small chip in your windscreen if you think it's not worth the cost of repairing.

But, if left untreated, that chip could turn into a crack that means you need a windscreen replacement.

Having windscreen cover in place gives you peace of mind that you could nip any problems in the bud without worrying about additional costs.

 

How much does it cost to repair a chipped windscreen?

If you haven’t got windscreen cover then a single chip repair is likely to cost you £215.15 including VAT, according to Autoglass*.

 

How much does it cost to replace a windscreen?

This depends on the make and model of your car. There's a huge disparity when it comes to windscreen sizes and features. Heated windscreens, for example, are more expensive to replace.

It could set you back hundreds of pounds if you don’t have windscreen cover in place.

 

Will my cracked windscreen be repaired or replaced?

This depends on the extent of the damage – and where it is on the screen. For example, if it’s very close to the edge then it might not be possible to repair it.

 

Tips to prevent a cracked windscreen

Prevention is always better than cure. Here's how you keep your windscreen in tip-top shape and avoid chips and cracks:

Keep your distance

The closer you drive to the vehicle in front, the higher the chances of you being in the firing line should they hit some debris in the road. Remember 'only a fool breaks the 2-second rule'.

Be wary of large vehicles

Ensure you keep a decent gap between you and any trucks you're following. Larger wheels might kick up more debris – and unsecured loads could be another danger.

Roadworks

Avoid going past them if possible. Pneumatic drills can cause tiny bits of concrete to fly out in all directions.

Avoid potholes

Tiny chips in the windscreen – even ones you may not have spotted – could become a full-blown crack by hitting huge holes in the road. You could try to claim for pothole damage from the council, rather than using your insurance company.

Use a screen protector

If your car is parked on the side of the road – or even on your driveway – consider putting a cover over the windscreen. They're likely to cost upwards of £20.

Check prices for windscreen covers on Amazon

 

Temperature changes

Avoid sudden temperature changes, such as pouring boiling water on the glass to de-ice it in the winter. This can cause glass to shatter.

 

*Prices correct as of May 2022.

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