Windscreen cover explained
It’s surprisingly easy to damage your windscreen. A stray stone flicked up by a passing car can be enough to chip the glass.
But even relatively minor damage can cause severe longer-term problems if left unrepaired as it can quickly turn into a large crack.
By then it’ll be too late to repair. You’ll need to replace the windscreen and this is likely to cost hundreds of pounds – not to mention the inconvenience it could cause.
So, here is our guide to protecting your screen – and what to do if it gets damaged.
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What is windscreen cover?
This is an insurance that pays out if your windscreen needs to be repaired or replaced. It may be included as standard in your car insurance or bought separately.
READ MORE: Car insurance extras: which do you need?
What causes cracked windscreens?
Even careful drivers can crack their windscreens. The most common reason is road debris hitting the glass. This can happen while you’re driving or even when the car is parked.
Bad weather is another cause. Tree branches or hailstones are particular perils.
Sudden changes in temperature may also cause damage. Prime examples are using boiling water to defrost the glass or leaving your car in direct sunlight on very hot days.
Of course, collisions can also crack the screen.
Can I drive with a cracked windscreen?
It’s never advisable – and may 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 four zones and each one has a size limit for repairable damage. If the damage exceeds these limits it will need 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 fixed penalty of three points on your licence and a fine.
And if you have an accident then you may find yourself charged with a more serious driving offence if the damage was a contributory factor.
Does my car insurance cover windscreen repairs?
It all depends on your policy. If you have fully comprehensive cover then it’s more likely to be included as standard. However, you need to check as this isn’t guaranteed.
Unfortunately, it’s less likely to be part of a third-party, fire and theft policy. In those cases, you’ll 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 won’t cost a fortune. It can usually be added for around £30.
Does windscreen cover count as a claim?
Some insurers may make an exception for windscreen claims and won’t 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 claims when asked at renewal.
Do I have to declare a windscreen claim on my insurance policy?
Yes, when renewing your car insurance, you will be asked if you have made a claim in the previous year. Failing to disclose it means you risk invalidating your insurance.
How many windscreen cover claims can I make?
It all depends on the policy and provider. Some companies allow an unlimited number of repairs to be carried out.
Others may set a limit on how much can be claimed 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 may have to pay an excess – which is the contribution you pay towards the claim – but it depends on the policy.
Some insurers will repair windscreens free of charge, as long as you use their preferred provider. Others will levy fees of around £25.
Similarly, with windscreen replacements, you may 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.
How much does it cost to repair a chipped windscreen?
If you haven’t got insurance then a single chip repair is likely to cost you £189.44 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 is a huge disparity when it comes to windscreen sizes. It could set you back hundreds of pounds if you don’t have the correct insurance in place.
Will my cracked windscreen be repaired or replaced?
This will depend 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
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.
Be wary of large vehicles
Ensure you keep a decent gap between you and any trucks you are following. Larger wheels can kick up more debris – and unsecured loads can provide another danger.
Avoid going past them if possible. Pneumatic drills can cause tiny bits of concrete to fly out in all directions.
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.
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 are likely to cost upwards of £20.
As we mentioned above, avoid sudden temperature changes, such as pouring boiling water on the glass to de-ice it in the winter.