Lockdown Defiance and Ignorance

Why are we, the British public, so defiant? Is it just us?

Yesterday I went to collect a couple of (pre-ordered) windscreens from a wholesaler. They’re doing all they possibly can as a supplier and this is immediately apparent as soon as you approach the front door:

ONLY ONE CUSTOMER AT A TIME

Also stated on the sign is a further request to use your own gloves, pen and mask. This message is on each of the four panels of the sliding door.

As I approached the door I saw there was a chap from another windscreen company busy collecting his order. I waited; as he came out I asked if he was done. He said, ‘yes’. My way in was clear. It’s a small reception area about 3m by 3.5m. A small serving hatch to the office and and a handover counter where the products are placed for collection. Customers usually go in, sign for their goods and wait for them to be picked from the warehouse.

In the time it took for me to be handed my invoice; sign it, and turn towards the ‘jump’, two guys walked in to the reception area. One chap, from National Windscreens walked straight up to the hatch and the other, from AVG, stood there like a lamppost making the third point of a triangle. “So much for the ‘one customer at a time’ notice on the door eh, chaps?” The fitter from National Windscreens just stood there like with a blank look on his face, akin to an envelope with no address on it. The AVG guy, stood in front of the door, ready to return my serve, “There’s two metres between us. I can’t see what the problem is?”

Therein lies the issue. We are given an instruction in the form of a request yet the general public ignore it and find a reason – a way – to justify why it does not apply to them.

Mr AVG fitter must have seen the signs; you can’t miss them because you have to walk through them to get it. Besides, he knew what I was getting at as he responded directly to it. He didn’t double-take and pop his bottom lip out. He knew exactly what he was doing. The rules did not apply to his sanctimonious self. Brave a supermarket sweep and you’ll see the same attitude and behaviour. Even before the governement update on lockdown restrictions, people were already dusting off their picnic hampers in anticipation of the rules being relaxed.

Is it just us, here in England? Other countries seem to be more respectful of such advice.

Approved Windscreen Companies.

If you asked for advice, you would seek it from a reliable source. To go ahead without it is usually ill-advised. It pays to do your research. Due diligence. Just like asking for recommendations on a suitable restaurant, we trust the experience and opinions of others; if you knew whether a restaurant was good, bad or indifferent you would base your decision to go there, or not, on that information. Similarly, if a friend bought you an experience at a restaurant, you would expect them to have looked into the matter in the same way. For example, if that restaurant had poor reviews on Trip Advisor your friend might have inadvertently poured custard over your main course.

In this context, your windscreen has cracked; it needs fixing. Who do you call?

If you have adequate cover in place (usually a Fully Comprehensive policy will cover most glass breakages) you simply get in touch with your insurance company. However, we all know, insurance companies don’t fit windscreens. Of course they don’t; windscreen companies do. Which one do you use? Which one can you use? This decision has been made for you by your insurer. It’s designed to make this part of the process easier for you and ultimately, it’s better for the insurer to have a deal in place with one company. Simple. Above 24-hour nationwide coverage for its clients it is probably the most economically viable arrangement for them.

Let’s have a closer look at the windscreen companies nominated by your insurer. Typically, it might be Autoglass; Auto Windscreens or National Windscreens. These are the big three. The nationals. There are others but they either haven’t been around as long as the big three or are structured differently. For example, Nationwide Windscreen Services is a joined up network of independent subcontractors.

Would you choose one of the aforementioned windscreen companies? Or would you prefer to nominate one yourself? The plain and simple answer is: you can, but unlike the glass that might need replacing, it isn’t so transparent. The autonomy is there before you insure your vehicle. Do you have a say in who your car goes to for repair in the event of an insured loss? Very much so. Given that you must be given “appropriate information about a policy in good time and in a comprehensible form so that you can make an informed decision about the arrangements proposed,” you clearly do. Did your insurer – or broker – take steps to make you aware of the salient points of that proposal? If there was some form of ‘click here to confirm you have read and understood the terms’ gateway en route to the checkout, probably. Was it clear enough? Probably not. The Financial Conduct Authority guidelines state that [financial] markets need to be “honest, fair and effective so that consumers get a fair deal.” They do so for the benefit of all parties on both sides of the transaction. They ensure the business is acting fairly and that the consumer gets a fair deal. Given the presence of a specific requirement in the FCA Handbook: ICOBS 6.-1 Producing and Providing Product Information, why is the question of who replaces your windscreen not being asked before insuring against the risk? Should the onus be on the consumer to ask the appropriate question, or the proposer? The relevant section of the handbook states what needs to happen, so if your preference is to choose who works on your car, the matter needs to be clearer before you decide whether you want to accept that proposal or not. The matter of what will happen in the event of your windscreen cracking should be pre-disclosed in no uncertain terms. In some cases, the repairer is named. Perfect. Or is it?

What if the nominated repairer isn’t quite up to it? What if they are not experienced in dealing with the nuances of what is known to be a specialist job? It might be that the car is a marque of distinction; a supercar; a hypercar; a rare classic or vintage car which would require the expertise of someone with experience of working with that type of car. Surely this needs to be discussed before pulling the trigger to shoot down an off-the-shelf motor insurance policy? Insuring a classic Carrera might be no different to a modern Mercedes on paper but in the event of a loss both cars cannot be treated in the same way when it comes to repair. When insuring a Porsche, if the Key Facts stated that you can take the car to a Porsche specialist of your choice, the policy would probably have all but sold itself to you. But what if the repairer was one of the aforementioned monolithic names? Would you be comfortable with that prospect? One way to help you make that decision would be to simply look them up; this is, provided of course, that the proposing insurer is actually naming that company. By using an ambiguous blanket term of ‘approved’ doesn’t tell you who it actually is. If it’s Fred in a Shed with a Bag of Tools, it needs to be clear that it is. By saying ‘our approved repairer’ doesn’t tell you anything. It might be a company like Nationwide Windscreen Services who subcontract the work out to a smaller firm in your area which deepens the mystery of who will knock on your door. What if it was a company you would rather not use if given the choice? What if you have already had a bad experience with them? What if the company your insurer now sending to replace the windscreen on your pride and joy had 55% of their reviews online rated overall as poor? It’s somewhat awkward if this is what you agreed to when you accepted the quote in the first instance.

Take Stuart. He has a Porsche. When his windscreen cracked, he thought it would be a simple process of get it replaced and the insurance company will pay for it. He called his insurance company and was given a Glass Claims Helpline number which, when he dialed it, took him directly to National Windscreens. After a brief chat about the situation he was is, he established that National Windscreens were offering him a pattern part; not a genuine Porsche windscreen. It also became clear that the person to whom he was speaking was not familiar with the model his car, a 993. He asked if they had anyone there who was experienced in working on 993s and he got the impression that they weren’t as confident as someone who was. Stuart went back to his insurance company and expressed his concerns adding that he would rather the work was done by a Porsche windscreen specialist, particularly given the well documented issues around 993 windscreen replacement. Initially, they said no stating that they had confidence in National Windscreens’ ability to replace windscreens. Stuart drew their attention to the poor rating they had on Trust Pilot. 63% of the reviews were rated as ‘bad’. He went a step further and referred to Indeed, and employment related search engine and highlighted that 24 of the 58 reviews (from former employees) rated National Windscreens one star out of a possible five. Stuart demonstrated that had he had know this information when the policy was proposed to him, he probably would not have accepted.

Reviews are subjective. They are often not representative of the reality. However, from a consumer point of view the person representing that business, is the business and the testimonial therefore, will be based on that experience. One thing we cannot argue is that many reviews are questionable. Some are also irrational. The Great Wall of China has more than 9,000 Google Reviews, with an average rating of 4.2 stars. Not bad for an ancient wonder of the world. But you can’t please everyone. “Not very tall. Or big. Just sayin. I kinda liked it. Sort of,” wrote one vistor of the structure, which stretches thousands of miles. Another complained, “I don’t see the hype in this place it’s really run down and old … why wouldn’t you update something like this? No USB plug ins or outlets anywhere.” But reviews help others make decisions. Consumers use them to vet their options. Nobody wants custard on their main course, so if there’s any way they can safeguard against it, a customer review might just be what tips the decision for or against.

We want to feel secure in our decision-making processes.

Very few people write reviews. It’s a very small percentage; something like 15 people out of every 1,000 on average. Should we be relying on these people if we’re part of the other 985? What if they’re mostly true? Auto Windscreens do very well in their Trust Pilot rating: 77% rate them as ‘excellent’ and 15%: as ‘bad’. Similarly, 66% of Autoglass reviews are rated as ‘excellent’ and 12%: bad. Nationwide Windscreen Services (56% bad) and National Windscreens (63%) don’t fare so well.

Where the reviews are left also makes a difference. Facebook and Google Reviews are among the other popular review platforms. They are not just indicative of the reviewer, but some will allow images to be uploaded giving a broader assessment of the circumstances. Many reviews are also capricious and often say more about the author than the vendor. Perversely, if the numbers are pointing to the wrong end of the ratings scale, isn’t that more telling?

We can write off a smaller percentage of reviews as indiscretions or published disgruntled customers, or even malicious (from competitors for example) but when the swell of opinion is telling you not to use that service, why would you let someone railroad you into doing so?

If who works on your car is important to you, pertinent questions should be asked before policy inception although this in itself is not often easy depending on who you are speaking to or that the policy is an off-the-shelf package. When triggering an insurance claim you find yourself restricted by freedom of choice (in terms of who replaces the windscreen) or how much the settlement is (such as policy capping or increased excess) it’s prudent to have that conversation before accepting the proposal. Make that informed decision. It’s all very well saving a few quid on the cheapest quote, or adding another vehicle to a multi-car policy, but does the product give you what you want it to in the event of a claim? These all become very awkward questions later on, and whilst there is a way to get around those restrictions, it’s far easier to have it all in place beforehand.




Two Ways to Apply PUR

If you’ve watched your windscreen being replaced, you may have noticed the fitter reaching over and across the car to apply the adhesive (PUR). Or did he lay the bead directly to the glass? Only a few installers will extrude directly to the glass. Which way is better?

Unless it’s a hand-built car, when it comes to fitting bonded window units, the overwhelming majority of car manufacturers will use an automated system. Robots don’t need tea breaks or shift changes; they work around the clock increasing productivity. They are also consistently accurate. They have to be. The computer controlling the robotic arm which applies the PUR to a windscreen can be programmed to follow an exact map of where the adhesive should be. The best way to do this is to apply directly to the glass before another arm lifts the windscreen and positions it on the vehicle. Doing this by hand, in principle, is no different. The end result is the same.

Body or Glass?

This question could be paraphrased to: which is right and which is wrong?

Glue on Glass

If the windscreen is bonded in correctly, and does not leak, creak or rattle; doesn’t allow wind noise into the cabin and generally does everything a windscreen should do, it should not matter how the PUR was applied. However, there may be some advantages and disadvantages which could help answer the question of which way is better. There are two main objectives in the application of the best possible bead:

  1. The gun should be perpendicular (90 degrees) when applying. This negates the risk of a ‘tunneling’ effect in the compressed bead and provided the speed of extrusion and movement is consistent, the bead height will remain uniform;
  2. Ideally, one join is optimal. Simply, less joins = less chance of the windscreen leaking.

Tunneling occurs when the glue gun was angled when the PUR was applied. It weakens the bond by reducing the contact made (less PUR adhering) and can also cause stress fractures due to that trapped air expanding.

The darker, shinier appearance in the image is PUR which has not made contact with the glass. The cut urethane either side of it was all that was forming the bond. When the extrusion gun is angled, the bottom of the bead circular (created by the rounded part of the nozzle). Applying directly to the pinchweld means the technician needs to be elevated (higher than the car) and will also need very long arms if he intends to extrude a bead in one start-to-end movement. Some may stand on the door-shut for this, and others may even rotate their body through 360 degrees whilst standing inside the car reaching out to the pinchweld. It’s not impossible, but it is very difficult. For this reason, fitters opt for the easy option: start extruding by standing on one side of the car (the starting point either being as far over to the opposite side of the car as possible, or the middle). The line of the previous install is then followed around the aperture. There will be more than one join as the bondline cannot be followed entirely in one start/stop movement.

PUR application by hand, to bodywork.

Applying the urethane by hand is cumbersome, but many technicians perfect the method and will achieve very good bond lines. Some windscreens which require a push in trim to be inserted after the glass is fitted will use a damming tape. This is to keep the urethane where it needs to be so that when the glass is compressed down onto the adhesive, there will be enough product showing for the trim to push into. The added benefit is that the damming tape will act as a barrier for the inside of the car, preventing ooze on the interior side of the bond line. This will also prevent the PUR making contact with A-pillar trims (if they have not been removed for the install). Applying the PUR to the body for this type of fitment is solely reliant accuracy of a) the positioning of the PUR and damming, and b) the ‘set’ position of the windscreen. Both have to be ‘married’ by the installers eye as there are no reference points for guidance.

PUR on glass – with damming tape

Applying the urethane to the glass gives better control leaving the only alignment issue to lifting the windscreen into place. This is easily referenced by at first, dry fitting the windscreen and marking out witness marks. Applying urethane to the glass in this type of fitment is not only easier, it makes sense.

Ask any fitter who swears by ‘gluing to the body’ and he will say that he does so because there is already a bond line there from the previous windscreen (hey, but what if that was wrong, or that the car has been in for a front end respray) or that applying glue to the glass can go horribly wrong if you get the lift-on wrong (suggesting a confidence problem as the same surely applies to gluing to the body). The case against gluing directly to the glass is not strong. By applying to the glass:

  1. You have better control of the gun; it remains perpendicular as you
    manoeuvre it around the glass edge;
  2. The extrusion will require just one joint which can be positioned in the lower section of the glass;
  3. Most OE glass comes with witness marks indicating exactly where the adhesive needs to be;
  4. Bead height will be consistent.
  5. There is no overstretching to get to hard-to-reach places.

Some glass does not come with witness marks but this can easily be done by the technician.

Witness marks

OE glass provides witness marks according to the blueprint. It is the exact template required to replicate the factory install.

OE Glass with Witness Marks

The only thing left to get right after applying the PUR to the windscreen is the lift-on. There’s only one place that piece of glass can go. For avoidance of doubt, a quick dry fit gives the installer the opportunity to mark out reference points. Removing the A-pillar trims will also help with the post installation visual to ensure adequate contact has been made and that there is no unnecessary ooze or excess product showing.

Range Rover Windscreen
Audi Windscreen

There is no right or wrong in either method. It is down to preference and experience. However, there are better advantages in applying PUR to the glass than applying to the body. The defence of applying to the body cannot be reliant on the previous bondline as the template to follow, nor can it be argued that the lift-on is risky.

All comments and feedback welcome.

Windscreen Wipers

American inventor Mary Anderson is credited with designing the first operational windscreen wiper in 1903. In Anderson’s patent, she described her invention as a ‘window cleaning device’ for electric cars and other vehicles. The windscreen wiper has since remained one of the very few parts of a motor car which has lasted for well over one-hundred years virtually unchanged.

Why hasn’t anyone come up with a more hi-tech solution for clearing rain and water from windscreens than a rubber squeegee?

The Simple Windscreen Wiper

Until there is a radical breakthrough, we have to rely on this simple design. A flexible ‘blade’ is the best way to remove a coating of liquid from glass; when fluid (air, water, whatever) moves against a surface, the fluid in contact with the surface doesn’t move, it ‘sticks’ to the surface. As you move away from the surface the speed of the fluid increases until it is at the same speed as the flow.

The concept of hydrophobic coatings is a great idea for glass, but airflow is still needed to make them most effective. The ‘beading up’ of water is the nano-coating working to repel the liquid but until there is force (airflow) the bead will not move as effectively as it is being repelled in all directions to prevent it from rolling away.

For now, long live windscreen wipers.

Leaking Windscreen Issue: Land Rover Discovery 5.

Third generation LR Discovery (L462; 2017–present)

Images of a common issue with the current crop of Discos showing where the windscreens are leaking from, and why.


Crackle Glaze

This crackle-glaze patch indicates an issue with the substrate; this shiny appearance is all of the adhesion promoter (primer) which would have been applied to the glass surface before the polyurethane adhesive ( “PUR” ) was introduced to bond the windscreen to the car.

2
Cut PUR

This image shows the ‘cut’ PUR against the crackle-glazed PUR confirming that the issue is not so much in the product, but the application of it.


Substrate

The PUR in the images has clearly bonded to the car. The problem isn’t there; it’s on the glass surface. The above image shows more of the crackle-glaze (to the left) and the silver band has been exposed by where it peeled off from. The ‘failure’ is either in the application of primer (was still wet when the PUR was introduced) or that the glass surface is – or was – contaminated. Given that the overwhelming majority of leaking Disco windscreens are in the same place (along the top of the windscreen) and that the bond around the rest of the screen is good, the non-adhesion problem is localised and therefore indicative of contamination. This by no means is definitive and is not based on thorough tests in laboratory conditions. However, the telltale signs are present: peeling of primer and/or PUR; the upper trim which comes stuck to the windscreen also peels off easily; when the affected area is tested for contamination there is evidence of something greasy.

The shiny appearance on the image to the right shows the kind of shape you would get if you wiped through a wet product. Furthermore, if you ignore the primer or PUR not sticking to the glass, the trim (which is attached with very strong double-sided tape) also failed to stick to the glass:

The proliferation of this problem in the same model, in the same place and all showing the same characteristics points to one problem.

Moving forward, the correct course of action is to replace the windscreen. This is largely to negate the issue reoccurring as we do not know what the substrate was contaminated with; at what stage it happened; what products were used in the preparation and subsequent bonding of the windscreen, and how good (or not) the rest of the windscreen bond line is. A new windscreen, from Land Rover, properly prepared eradicates any further problems. That said, the existing [contaminated] windscreen can be removed and can be reinstalled. Extra care, appropriate materials and products are needed, but it can be done successfully. Products such as neutralising agents to rid the substrate of all contaminants and a strong adhesive to reinstate the upper trim (it cannot be bought separately).

Ready to re-attach upper trim

With the upper trim reattached, the ‘refurbished’ windscreen can be refitted.

Leaking Disco 5 Windscreen: done.

Insurance Won’t Allow Genuine Parts?

Are you insured with Admiral insurance? Have you claimed for a cracked windscreen? Did they allow a genuine – OE – replacement? Did you know about the three year rule?

Admiral’s guide [under Windscreen Damage] states:

“If your car is three years old or more, we may decide to repair it with recycled parts, or with parts which have not been made by the car’s manufacturer, but are of a similar standard.”

Interesting use of the word, ‘may’ which suggests it could be subject to discretion, visit My Car Insurance Quote to see their policies. The reality is, they will not allow an OE windscreen replacement. Technically, the claim settlement does not include any ‘in conjunction with’ parts, such as clips, mouldings or trims. The installer has to absorb that cost.

The Twist.

Go to the Damage to Your Car section of the same set of documents and the wording is quite different:

“We will only repair your car with parts made by the vehicles manufacturer. If any parts are no longer available, we will only pay the cost shown in the manufacturer’s latest price guide together with reasonable fitting costs. “

It’s not just in the wording. Here is a new tailgate fitted to a 2008 Peugeot 207 in for a crash repair at an Admiral-approved bodyshop:

Why should windscreens – and glass – be any different? Surely the same principle should apply in both claims? Why the disparity? If an 11 year-old car can have genuine body panels fitted as part of a claim, why then does the indemnity not extend to a four year-old car for a windscreen?

The Politics of Envy?

If you haven’t passed a shop with a chalkboard displaying the message you might have seen it splashed across a viral message being passed around on social media:

When you buy from a small business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third holiday home.

You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, Mums & Dads put food on the table.

Thanks for shopping local.

– unknown

Supporting and empowering small businesses is very much up my strasse. The idea of buying local in the shadow of the dominance of larger corporations is central to what I believe in as a professional, and what I do every day. Therefore I should agree with the sentiment; and I do, but not in the way that it is pitched on these posts. Every time I see someone share something like the quote above and picture below (asking us to LIKE and SHARE) my heart pumps purple piss.

Boiler
Boiler

  1. What about the the thousands of employees of those large corporations? Each individual – employed by that CEO’s business – relies on the wage that the corporation provides; they too may have daughters in dance lessons, or a son pining for a football shirt. That employee too is working to put food on the table. Let’s swerve the big business and put those people on the dole! Yay.
  2. What happens if we all cave in to the sentiments on the ‘shared’ post and only buy from small shops? Small shops which will as a result get bigger and will then need to employ more staff, move to bigger premises, etc. When do we stop buying from THEM? The question is relevant because will will have to, as the CEO of this once small shop will be doing much better now that everyone is avoiding the big companies. Tesco started out as a small, local business.
  3. The message also implies that by supporting a big business you are supporting greed, or that success should be limited, or even punishable.
  4. It also suggests a sense of entitlement, ‘buy from us because we’re small’ and not because we’re any good. Buy from us because you should support us. One could argue, that buying your weekly shop from one of the leading supermarkets you are helping significantly more people than buying from your local corner shop.

Whilst the ‘buy local’ message isn’t hateful, it conveys the wrong sentiments. It portrays the politics of envy. The CEO has done well therefore must be bad and therefore needs to be punished. We used to look up to the people who did well for themselves, but now we should not like them? The focal point for the CEO’s success of that ‘third holiday home’ is also unrealistic. Nobody has to be a CEO to have or even want a holiday home. A few of my friends have a holiday home either in the UK (by the coast) or abroad. This might be timeshare; a comfy little apartment in a development or even a secluded house with its own pool. Isn’t this what many of us strive for? Why should the success of a CEO become the subject of such scrutiny?

Economics

Again, this message or supporting local businesses ‘because it helps the economy’ isn’t hateful but it distracts from reality. Money into the economy is money into the economy, but the message in pink chalk above doesn’t reflect that. It could however, promote benefits or reasons to buy from a small local business. The most important benefit is for its longevity and survival. Support your local pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops and they stay around, which means they pay business rates as well as making it a better place to live, which in turn makes your house worth a bit more.

Happy Dancers

When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance because they’re on their way to becoming a success; success that will hopefully enable them to live a more comfortable life…

Your reason to buy local or from a large corporation should be based on much more than just who benefits from your business. There’s a very strong argument to be had on why in some cases it is better to buy from a larger business.

When you buy from the one-man-band, you’re buying into that person who, hopefully, is pitching a business which shows exactly why they’re in business. Talk to a wide range of small business owners and you’ll undoubtedly hear varying reasons why they started on their own, “I was sick and tired of feathering someone else’s nest” or “my boss wasn’t paying me enough”. Very few, in fact it’s rare to hear of someone’s passion to deliver what they couldn’t whilst working within the confines of employment. “I wanted to offer a service which went beyond creating the conditions of a sale” etc.

Please don’t buy based on such lazy marketing or these meaningless and thoughtless messages which do not actually give a clear – and good – reason why you should buy from that business.

Comments and questions are always welcome. Please use the comments box below or email me directly.

Thank you.


Fitting a Windscreen (or Glass) After Repaint


Whether it’s a remedial (rust) repair, full body repaint or crash repair there is one small detail that many bodyshops – even windscreen installers – are overlooking.

If there are remnants of the old Polyurethane adhesive they must either be masked before painting or removed completely. Painting over cured urethane is not recommended as paint – or primer – does not adhere to it. From the moment fresh PUR is applied to it, it becomes a floating bit of paint ‘skin’ and will not form a strong bond once it cures. Urethane however, will stick to cured paint (provided it has been allowed a minimum of 24 hours after bake).

Before bonding to a freshly painted surface the ‘painted over urethane’ needs to be cut back to provide a suitable substrate. Any bare metal exposed must also be touched in with an adhesion promoter. For new, painted surfaces (ie where there is no old PUR) a line of primer is recommended by most manufacturers however it is more a belt-and-braces approach in a fast-fit environment for primer-less systems.

It is also important to allow enough time for the paint itself to cure. If the painting has been done in an oven, at least 24 hours is required after bake (to cool down). The longer it is left, the better.

Buying a Car with a Chipped Windscreen

You buy a car – a used car – and take it home. At some point you may have noticed a chip on the windscreen. The car seller may already have had it repaired, or will offer to have someone look at it should you bring the matter to their attention. At Motorborne you can find car buying comparisons and reviews, you might be interested in how the latest SUV compares to a new minivan on the market, or compare the prices of sports cars.

Take this a step further. If the car you bought has (or had) a chip in the windscreen which later developed into a crack, whose responsibility should that be? Should it be covered under the warranty terms? If the seller is deeming the repair good enough to sell the car with it there, what happens if that repair subsequently fails or worsens? A seller might say that glass repairs are not guaranteed (then why sell you the car with one?). In the event that the chip developed into a crack, the dealer might suggest you claim on your insurance or to fully replace it. The question then is about the damage being preexisting and therefore technically speaking not insured under the current policy as the loss would have occurred before inception.

Would you accept the car seller’s offer to pay your excess? Showing you the money masks the issue as a) the damage isn’t really your insurer’s problem; b) your insurance will register a glass claim on your history and c) your insurer’s nominated repairer will probably want to chuck in a ‘copy’ glass and not a like-for-like replacement, ie, a genuine ‘OE’ part.

In most cases the insurer – your insurer – ends up taking one for the team because it’s an arrangement open for everyone to abuse. The underwriters however aren’t exactly rolling over for you. Their numbers allow for a percentage of glass claims which, compared to collision claims, is a minor loss. They have bigger fish to fry and by making such an allowance they’re simply letting you get on with it. There really is no onus; it’s just your conscience or moral compass guiding you.

A system which is easy to abuse just makes it easier for parties to shirk responsibility and let someone else put their hand in their own pocket. The wider implication of this means that more claims means higher premiums for everyone shopping for motor insurance.


The Disparity in Windscreen Claims

When your insurer denies your request for a genuine ‘OE’ windscreen replacement, and insists that you might have to pay the difference between what they are prepared to pay for and what you want, ask them why they appear to be okay about paying for dealer parts if the car is in for accident repairs.

An example:

A chap had his windscreen replaced after it cracked. He followed his insurer’s instructions and their nominated repairer arrived to fulfill their obligation. The car is registered 2017, so fairly new and very much under warranty. The make and model is irrelevant; academic, as a claim is a claim regardless of the cost. This is the windscreen they fitted:

Aftermarket 'copy' windscreen
Aftermarket ‘pattern parts’ Windscreen

As you can see, it’s a Shatterprufe windscreen (a South African company) which is merely a copy of the original (and not manufactured in accordance with the blueprint which the car manufacturer owns). It is much cheaper than the original (a fraction of it, in fact) and it allows the nominated repairer to service their agreement by volume of work on the basis of exclusivity. The process, from the car owner’s point of view, was easy and as straight forward as he could hope for; he paid his excess and everyone lived happily ever after.

Some time after the event, the same chap in the same car had an episode with another driver on the road, and the car had to be taken into a crash repair centre. Just like when his windscreen was replaced, he was instructed to take the car to his insurance company’s nominated repairer. Again, all fairly easy and the car was returned to him after the repair work was completed. There was however, something a bit different in this process. All replacement parts were original equipment, i.e., genuine ‘main dealer’ parts. They were the same as what the car manufacturer used when the car was assembled. One of those replacement parts was the windscreen. This is what the same insurance company agreed to pay for and authorised the fitting of:

Original Equipment

Glass cover and accident insurance are two components of the same indemnity, so why the disparity? Why apply dissimilar conditions to the same product which results in the use of premium products in one scenario and cheaper, inferior products in the other?

This is a stranglehold you are placed in by your insurer who do not make this clear before policy inception. Try removing glass cover from the proposal: “the computer says no”. Try to ascertain what will happen in the event of a claim scenario and it’s not really that clear. In fact, it’s confusing but you have to find where it states what the outcome would be in the event of a claim, and when you do – if you do – it’s difficult to understand.

The aim of Insurance Conduct of Business Sourcebook (ICOBS) is to ensure that customers are treated fairly. One section in particular is not being observed properly:

“A firm must take reasonable steps to ensure a customer is given appropriate information about a policy in good time and in a comprehensible form so that the customer can make an informed decision about the arrangements proposed”.

In failing to define the outcome of initiating a claim by not stating that they will steer policyholders into using their nominated repairer (who in turn will use cheap and inferior parts) they are not presenting an important fact – or salient point – of the proposal. This should take place before policy inception, or, before you click on the ‘I accept the terms and conditions’ button. Conversely, the ‘proceed to payment’ button is harder to miss.

Funny that.