Making Claims for Windshield Damage

October 26, 2016 - Articles

Windshield damage – and auto glass damage, generally – can pose a serious risk to driving safety if left unhandled.  The potential for further cracking and breakage, the visibility reduction and the legal risks (it is a ticketable offense in Florida to drive around with an unsafe condition such as a damaged windshield) all clearly point to the necessity of having windshield damage repaired.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and you have comprehensive insurance coverage, under prevailing Florida law you may be able to assert a “first party” claim against your own insurance provider to ensure that free auto glass repair is performed to fix your windshield damage.

A first party claim is made against your own insurance provider.  A third-party claim is made against a different party.  For example, if you were to get into a car accident with another driver, you might be able to assert a third party diminished value claim.

So, how does it all work?  Let’s look deeper into the law relating to windshield damage claims.

Relevant Florida Statutory Law

Florida Statutes section 627.7288 puts an obligation on Florida auto insurers to ensure that free windshield repair/replacement is provided to the insured.  The repair/replacement must be done with zero deductible.

Bear in mind that free auto glass repair/replacement is only provided if you are covered by a “comprehensive” auto insurance policy.  Minimum insurance policies do not allow this benefit.  If you are not sure whether you are covered, check with your insurance provider to confirm.

Potential Issues

There are two common issues associated with making a first party windshield damage claim (so that repair and replacement is covered): 1) you may not need a full replacement; and 2) in the event that replacement is required, your insurer may not cover the desired replacement glass selection.

Not All Damaged Windshields Need Replacing

Minor damage to your windshield does not necessarily require that the entire windshield glass be replaced.  If your windshield is simply chipped or otherwise damaged in a rather insignificant manner, it is recommended that you consider repairing the windshield itself instead of replacing it entirely.

Why?

Assuming that you do have comprehensive auto insurance and are covered by the free auto glass repair/replacement statute, your insurer will have to pay for the windshield replacement, but your insurer does not have to cover all possible glass replacements.  Repairing your existing windshield (if feasible) ensures that the glass quality remains the same.

Insurers Pay for “Good Enough” Replacements

Under Florida law, an auto insurer is not required to pay for every possible replacement of a windshield.  They are only required to pay for a windshield replacement that is of roughly the same fit, quality, and performance as your original windshield.

As such, if you have to replace your windshield, your insurer might not pay for a windshield replacement from the car manufacturer, and will almost certainly try to avoid paying for more premium auto glass.  Instead, your insurer will likely attempt to argue that a lower grade, off-brand windshield replacement is suitable.

When you make a windshield damage claim against your insurer, it is likely that your claim will be met with stiff resistance.  To ensure that you are able to get a suitable, free replacement or repair, seek the support of an experienced team of diminished value lawyers.  Our team at Coffey Trial Law is committed to the success of your claims.  Contact us today.