Auto insurance companies change rules on glass breakage

Chris Kissell

Glass breakage often happens when you least expect it. Perhaps you’re driving down the highway when a truck loaded with gravel hits a bump, and a stray rock dings your windshield. Or maybe you’re soaking up the sun at the beach when the skies suddenly turn stormy, causing you to flee to your car just in time to see a large hailstone crack the rear window.

For years, drivers could safely assume that the comprehensive coverage portion of a car insurance policy would reimburse them in such circumstances. (Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car from things like fire, hail and animal collisions.)

But that may not be the case today. Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute, says some companies no longer cover glass damage as part of the comprehensive portion of a car insurance policy.

“I don’t know how many companies are doing this, but I would advise consumers to check with their insurance agent,” she says.

Worters says there’s no single reason why companies drop the coverage from comprehensive insurance, although she suspects it’s because of an excessive number of claims by policyholders. “I would venture to say it is most likely an area that has had a lot of abuse,” she says.

Coverage changes

Even if a company does not drop glass coverage, it may change how glass claims are reimbursed.

State Farm is one company that recently changed its policy on glass coverage. Instead of grouping all glass damage under comprehensive insurance, the insurer now splits the coverage between comprehensive and collision, company spokesman Sevag Sarkissian says.

So, if glass is broken in a collision with another vehicle or an object like a telephone pole, collision insurance would cover the damage.

On the other hand, glass breakage caused by falling objects, hail, windstorm, vandalism, fire, water or hitting a bird or animal is covered under comprehensive coverage, Sarkissian says.

Most people who carry collision coverage also carry comprehensive. But there are some exceptions. So, for example, a State Farm customer who carries collision but not comprehensive would not be reimbursed for glass damage resulting from a mishap that falls under comprehensive coverage.

Stay in touch

Companies that drop glass breakage coverage from their comprehensive plans typically are not eliminating the insurance altogether, Worters says. Instead, insurers may offer it as an extra feature to a car insurance policy.

Paying a little more and exercising such an option may be wise for many consumers. At the very least, consumers should keep in touch with their insurance agent or company to make sure they have the glass coverage they expect, Worters says. “Make sure there are no gaps in coverage,” she says.

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