That annoying crack in your windshield is only going to get worse. Should you pay out of pocket or let your insurance handle it and will your rates go up if you do?

Unlike some types of repairs like a minor fender bender or a scratch, auto glass repair  or windshield replacement is almost always mandatory. A crack in your line of vision can be a violation that can  earn you a ticket. Even a small chip or hairline crack can " Grow" over time causing complete windshield failure.  Getting a repair as soon as is possible is best.

The there is good news as most insurance companies will cover the costs. This comes under the " Comprehensive" clause in your policy. This clause covers damage due to things other than an accident such as a falling branch, a rock chip repair or vandalism.

Your first step is to check your policy or call your agent. Be prepared to describe the damage. If it is a chip, compare the chip size to a coin. Is it about the size of a penny, a quarter? Quarter size chips are usually reparable, but the damage from a falling stone or tree branch  may not especially if it has cracked the inner layer of glass. The general rule is that cracks that can be covered by a dollar bill are usually reparable. If the inside glass is damaged or if the crack is near the edge or over the radio antenna replacement may be your only option.

A phone call or a visit to a glass repair shop will give you a good idea whether a repair or replacement is needed.

Windshield chip or crack repair can cost between $75 and $150 dollars. That is just a ball park estimate and obviously a professional evaluation is needed. The good news is that many insurance companies will pay for a repair without even charging a deductible or increasing rates. The reason is that if you repair the damage before it spreads to a complete replacement which can cost $300 and up, the insurance company is saving money. In the case of some luxury automobiles, or vehicles with larger glass areas the cost can run to the thousands so definitely consider repair over replacement if possible.

If an auto glass replacement is the only solution what is the impact on your insurance rates? Deductibles have gone up over the years with a $500 deductible not uncommon. If replacement is your only option, then you may just have to pay for the work out of pocket if the cost is less than the deductible.  Most windshields on compact to midsize cars can be replaced for about $300 to $400 dollars. If the cost is more than the deductible, then you need to call your agent to determine if there will be an increase in your monthly rate due to the claim, and what that cost will be. Many companies have " Accident Forgiveness" which can be a factor.

The important thing is to get the damage looked at as soon as possible, as it could be a relatively minor expense compared to complete replacement if you wait.