The Perils of Cracked Windshields: Insurance Dilemmas and Costly Repairs
Daniel Wheelwright, a road warrior from Salt Lake City, knows the struggles of driving with a cracked windshield all too well. As someone who spends an extensive amount of time on the road for work, racking up approximately 50,000 miles a year, he encounters numerous construction trucks and the accompanying risk of rock chips on a daily basis.
Wheelwright’s Tesla has fallen victim to the perils of these road hazards. “One of them spread halfway across the windshield, and it just spread overnight,” he lamented. Over a span of two years, he had three chips that grew into large cracks, necessitating windshield replacement.
However, the third claim turned out to be more costly than he anticipated. Wheelwright’s insurance company decided to drop his comprehensive coverage, leaving him to foot the bill for the expensive repairs. The reason given by the insurer was that he had made too many comprehensive coverage claims, including the windshield replacements.
The prospect of driving with a cracked windshield is not ideal for many reasons. Firstly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that windshields provide support to a car’s roof during rollovers. Additionally, airbags often exert force on the windshield when they deploy, meaning a large crack could compromise their effectiveness. Finally, driving with a cracked windshield can lead to legal consequences such as tickets from law enforcement.
But can an insurance company really drop a policyholder for making too many glass claims? The KSL Investigators delved into Utah law and discovered that insurers indeed have grounds to drop coverage if there are too many comprehensive claims, including windshield replacements, and if there is a substantial change in the risk. However, an insurance company cannot increase a policyholder’s premium due to any claim where they are not at fault.
Wheelwright finds himself in a difficult situation due to his insurer’s decision. State Farm, his insurance company, did not provide specific answers regarding how often is deemed too often for glass claims or his concerns about having an intact windshield. Instead, they emphasized their responsibility to make good decisions to keep rates affordable, even if that means no longer insuring a vehicle.
As for the cost of windshield replacement on a Tesla, Wheelwright estimates it will set him back around $1,200. Tesla is the sole manufacturer of their unique glass, requiring owners to obtain replacements directly from them. These replacements often involve recalibrations and additional costs.
It’s essential to note that Tesla drivers are not the only ones affected by costly windshield repairs. Many vehicles, particularly those equipped with advanced technology such as sensors and lenses for lane assist, adaptive cruise control, and emergency braking, can also require expensive replacement windshields. Some insurers offer full glass coverage policies as add-ons, which can help policyholders avoid deductibles. However, if the deductible costs more than the windshield replacement itself, it may be more cost-effective to handle the repairs independently.
Ultimately, the case of Daniel Wheelwright serves as a cautionary tale for drivers who find themselves grappling with cracked windshields. It highlights the complexities of insurance coverage and the financial burdens that can arise from unforeseen damages. As road conditions become increasingly hazardous, it is crucial for drivers to be aware of their insurance policies’ limitations and consider the potential costs associated with repairs and replacements.