Getting a broken back windshield or window can be an annoying and expensive hassle. Even a small crack can spread quickly across the glass, obstructing your view and becoming a safety hazard. Replacing the glass is often several hundred dollars or more.
Luckily, if you have the right car insurance coverage, you can get your broken back windshield or window replaced for little to no cost. Here’s what you need to know about filing a claim and getting your car’s back glass fixed.
What causes back windshields and windows to break?
There are a few common causes of back windshield and window glass breakage:
Rocks or debris hitting the glass. Back windshields are prone to getting hit by gravel, rocks, and other debris kicked up by cars on the road. This is especially true on highways and rural roads.
Temperature changes. Rapid temperature swings can cause the glass to expand and contract quickly, leading to stress cracks. This is common with back windshields as they heat up in the sun.
Vandalism. Unfortunately, people sometimes break rear windshields intentionally by throwing objects or directly damaging the glass.
Car accidents. The force of a rear-end collision can cause the back windshield to shatter. Side rear windows may also break in side-impact crashes.
Wear and tear. Over many years, vibrations in the car can weaken the glass and cause spontaneous cracking.
Is a broken back windshield covered by car insurance?
In most cases, yes – a broken back windshield will be covered under your car insurance policy’s comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive insurance pays for damage to your vehicle that is not from a collision, including:
- Glass breakage
- Falling objects
- Animal collisions
So if a rock hits your back windshield and causes a crack, your comprehensive insurance would pay for the replacement cost minus your deductible.
The same goes for a broken back side window. Comprehensive coverage treats your rear windshield the same as any other window glass damage.
Do you have to report a broken back windshield?
You don’t necessarily have to report a broken back windshield right away. But you should document the damage with photos and contact your insurance company to start a claim when you’re ready to get it fixed.
Most insurance policies have clauses requiring you to repair broken glass within a “reasonable” timeframe. Driving around long-term with a badly cracked rear windshield may violate your policy and put you at risk of having your claim denied later on.
Is there a deductible for fixing a broken back windshield?
Yes, you will typically need to pay your comprehensive deductible when filing an insurance claim for a broken back windshield or rear side window.
Comprehensive deductibles are usually around $500, but can range from $200 to $1,000 or more. If your deductible is $500, you’d pay the first $500 of the replacement cost and your insurance would cover the rest.
However, some car insurance companies offer no-deductible glass coverage. This means they waive your deductible for windshield and window repairs. Ask your agent if this option is available.
Does insurance pay 100% for a back windshield replacement?
Your car insurance will pay 100% of the cost to replace your back windshield after you pay your deductible. So if the new windshield is $800 and your deductible is $500, you would pay $500 and the insurance company would pay the remaining $300.
The insurance company has deals with auto glass shops to get replacements done affordably. As long as you use an approved shop, the insurance company will cover the full price of parts and labor.
Trying to save money using a non-approved shop may result in added costs later on.
Can insurance force you to only repair a crack?
Some insurance companies require that small cracks be repaired first before they’ll pay for a full windshield replacement. Repairs cost much less than a new windshield.
But if the crack is too long or spreads across your field of vision, they can’t force you to keep repairing it. At that point a new windshield becomes a safety necessity.
Make sure to take photos documenting any damage so you can show your insurance company if needed.
What is the average cost to replace a back windshield?
The cost to replace a rear windshield runs between $200 to $600 in most cases. But for certain makes and models, it can be over $1,000 if the car has advanced technology built into the glass.
Here are some average rear windshield replacement costs by car type:
- Small sedan – $200 to $350
- Midsize sedan – $350 to $550
- Luxury sedan – $500 to $800
- SUV/crossover – $400 to $700
- Pickup truck – $350 to $650
Coupes and sportscars tend to fall on the higher end due to their specialized glass.
How long does it take to replace a back windshield?
Getting your rear windshield replaced usually takes 1-2 hours at the repair shop. The windshield needs to be ordered ahead of time for less common car makes and models.
The process involves:
- Removing the old windshield
- Prepping the windshield frame
- Test fitting the new glass
- Securing it with urethane adhesive
- Letting the adhesive cure
Let the adhesive fully cure (12-24 hrs) before driving for safety. Most shops can provide a loaner car so you’re not stuck waiting.
Can insurance force you to use aftermarket or used parts?
Some insurance companies push policyholders to use aftermarket (non-OEM) or used windshield glass to save money. But you may have the right to insist on new OEM glass for safety reasons.
Aftermarket windshields are made by third parties and may not fit properly or meet safety standards. Used windshields are risky because you don’t know their history or if they have hidden damage.
Check your state laws – many allow you to request comparable OEM parts for repairs. Documenting why new OEM glass is necessary can help your case.
What if you don’t have comprehensive insurance?
Drivers without comprehensive coverage would have to pay the full cost out-of-pocket to replace a broken back windshield.
Comprehensive car insurance is optional in most states. But it’s required if you have an auto loan or lease.
Before dropping comprehensive, consider that a single broken window could cost you $500 or more. Comprehensive also protects against theft, vandalism, weather damage and other issues.
Tips for preventing back windshield breaks
Here are some tips to help avoid cracked or broken back windshields in the first place:
- Clean glass regularly to avoid abrasion from dirt and debris
- Fill in small chips right away to prevent spreading
- Avoid slamming doors or trunks near glass
- Park in garages or covered areas when possible
- Add an extra shade or sunblocker to lower interior temps
- Drive carefully on gravel roads
- Give extra distance to avoid being hit by road debris
A bit of prevention can save you the hassle of dealing with a broken back windshield!
The bottom line on broken back windshield insurance claims
- Rear windshield and back side window damage falls under comprehensive auto insurance coverage.
- You will need to pay your comprehensive deductible when filing a broken glass claim.
- Insurance will cover 100% of the approved repair cost beyond your deductible.
- Take plenty of photos to document damage and talk to your insurance right away.
- OEM glass may provide the best fit and safety, but verify options with your insurer.
- Prevent cracks by caring for your glass and driving carefully around debris.
With the right protection, you can get your broken back windshield repaired affordably so you can see clearly and drive safely again. Comprehensive insurance provides essential peace-of-mind for all types of glass damage.
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