Replacing a car windshield can be expensive. Depending upon the make and model of the vehicle in question, replacement windshields can run between $200 and $400. At some repair shops, labor costs may increase the price of replacing a windshield even further. Older vehicles' windshields may also be more expensive to replace since their original parts may be difficult to find.
In addition, poorly-fitted replacement windshields may cause more problems than they solve. Typical problems may include leaking around the seams, shuddering noises while the car is in motion, and premature cracking or chipping. While the first two of these problems can be fixed by adding more sealant to the windshield's borders, the third problem typically requires an entirely new sheet of glass.
A few states maintain special statutes that mandate insurance coverage for replacement windshields. Auto insurance providers in these states can't force policyholders to use their deductibles to pay for the cost of windshield repair or replacement. Since the value of most policies' deductibles exceeds that of the typical windshield replacement job, these rules may save insured parties hundreds of dollars over the lives of their policies.
The states that currently have these statutes on the books include Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky. In Florida, all drivers who carry comprehensive insurance coverage on their vehicles are eligible for "free" windshield replacement. Many of the state's mechanics and body shops advertise this service with some even offering goodies to lure in more customers.
The racket is clear: The owners of these shops take advantage of the fact that insurance companies must reimburse them for the windshield-replacement work that they perform. Since windshield-replacement customers don't have to pay for the work out of pocket, they're more likely to order replacement windshields preemptively. In fact, many mechanics and body-shop employees offer this service in conjunction with regular maintenance services like oil changes and tune-ups. After receiving a "free" windshield replacement, drivers who feel as if they've saved a great deal of money may be more willing to order up such additional services for their vehicles.
In Kentucky and South Carolina, drivers must carry comprehensive insurance coverage to receive the "free" windshield replacement benefit as well. Drivers who carry collision-only coverage may still be able to recoup the cost of replacing a windshield damaged during an accident for which they were determined not to be at fault. However, they generally must pay out-of-pocket for the initial repair.