There Can Be Only One

When someone copies you, or something you have done, it can be a tad annoying. Cast your mind back to school and having to fence yourself in behind books (or cradling with your other arm or hand) to stop someone near you copying your work. Nobody wants their ideas stolen, so how can imitation be the sincerest form of flattery? If it is in the context of learning, it could be argued that listening would be more sincere if the aim truly was to flatter.

Why can there be only one?

The answer is quite simple: to distinguish your business from competitors. The best way to do that is to protect your work – or brand – by copyright or trademark.

In the movie Highlander, a group of immortals with special powers battle against each other to become the ultimate warrior. Some may interpret the plot of this classic eighties movie as a group of guys beheading rivals until there is only one warrior left standing. This same analogy can be applied to business. A company wants to be the only one bearing that name. In a wider context, a company may want to be the dominant brand in their industry and will stop at nothing to make sure it remains that way. Some businesses would simply like to protect their reputation and perhaps make sure that nobody ‘passes off’ as them and thus, causes confusion in the marketplace. The appointment of a trademark gives a business a proverbial sword to protect itself as it eliminates the chance of consumers confusing one company or service with another.

In the windscreen replacement industry, a culture of copying another company’s trading name is rife. For example, a quick search on the internet will reveal there are many firms operating as Autoglaze yet none of them are connected or associated in any way. They are all effectively, in competition with each other. It appears to be such a popular name for a windscreen company as it almost sounds and looks like Autoglass. Perversely, you will not find any ‘copies’ of Autoglass as anyone that has even attempted anything remotely similar has been, in a legal sense, beheaded. Autoglaze on the other hand is not protected and some have tried to make their version of the name more original by adding prefixes or suffixes. It’s as amusing as it is nonsensical. Why call yourself something similar to a business already in existence? Can’t think of one of your own? Just copy someone else’s? Could it be that there just aren’t enough options to choose from? It didn’t stop the KFC brand. Kentucky Fried Chicken became the household name on both sides of the Atlantic, but in recent years, a trend of fried chicken shops calling themselves AFC, DFC, PFC or any other ‘FC’ they thought they would get away with saw KFC respond with a Guys, we are flattered’ advert. The Highlander reference perhaps indicative of in another of their statements:

“”We invest time, effort and skill into freshly hand-breading Kentucky Fried Chicken in our kitchens – all day, every day – and that’s why you can only get KFC at KFC.”

Brand protection. Is it business, or vanity? If it’s the latter, perhaps you shouldn’t be in business. Emotions can be good in business but vanity can easily blur the boundaries of navel-gazing. Let’s not forget who the protagonist is in your business. And if you want to make sure your hard-earned reputation is found by your customers, having someone copy your name might affect your chances. As far as emotions go in this sense, it’s frustrating and an effing nuisance.

Despite registering a trademark when Glasstec was incorporated, the plagiarists have been at it. Glasstech; Glasstek; Glastec; Glass Tech; Glasstech UK; Glasstech Repairs and a few more have all popped up. It’s tiring. They are nothing to do with Glasstec Automotive Ltd and are allegedly, potentially, infringing on a preexisting (and subsisting) trademark. Perhaps some of them have been named innocently and unaware of how Intellectual Property rights work. The government website does make it easy, after all, it was referred to when the mark was first applied for. It’s not difficult.

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.

An Appetite for Claiming is Costing Us All

In the event that you should need a new windscreen, provided your policy indemnifies you for cracked or damaged glass, your insurer may direct you towards their ‘approved’ repairer. Opting for a repairer of your own choosing may not be so easy, and there may be a capped payout on any claim you might make in case of accident. When a windscreen is repaired or replaced, insurers rely on their approved repairers to make an honest assessment on their behalf but ultimately, the onus is also on the policyholder to make the right call.

What happens when the policyholder makes a dishonest claim, or, for the benefit of doubt is unaware that they are about to make a spurious claim? The answer to this is quite simple; they usually end up with a new windscreen. Perhaps the insurers – or brokers – should place greater emphasis on what qualifies as criteria for a claim, or more what constitutes as a fraudulent one? This is where the approved repairer comes in. They are called approved because one of their responsibilities is to make an honest and frank assessment [of the damage] on behalf of their partner, the underwriter, before any loss can be indemnified. Experience tells us that this is a gray area; therefore, and by process of elimination, the onus lies on the insurer – or underwriter – to make clear what they will indemnify, and more importantly what they will not. They’re in the business of compensating loss however by definition they also need to safeguard their financial interests against dishonest and fraudulent claims. Considering how easy it can be to claim for a windscreen which, for example, may have been damaged before the car was insured it would appear that underwriters accept that they will be settling windscreen claims regardless of the facts (or lack of). They’re not helping themselves and in doing so, are leaving the door wide open for insured parties to claim for damage which may not be covered; they are also implicitly trusting the word of the repairers doing the work because  [rhetorical question alert] how many windscreen companies refer customers back to their insurer if they feel the damage does not meet the repair or replace criteria? The reality is, nobody seems to care enough or more like they care for their health to follow the ketogenic diet; meanwhile the cost of motor insurance continues to rise and spurious windscreen claims are part of a much wider and cultural problem.

It has been said (usually by those trying to justify it) that fraud is a harsh word to describe deceit or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage when it comes to making a windscreen claim. The act can be described in a variety of ways: cheating, deceit, scam, con etc. It’s being dishonest; exhibiting lack of honesty; fraudulent. Many do so innocently but whilst there is a strong argument for and against ignorance, if the insurer or its representative is not checking the validity of your claim to a claim, those who are well aware of their actions can have their windscreen replaced 23 hours before their conscience kicks in. 

“I have just bought a Porsche and the windscreen is scratched. Can it be polished?”

Case example. The type of question above is asked a lot on various motoring forums. In brief, scratched glass can be polished but not as a rule of thumb; laminated glass especially if it is the windscreen i.e., forward facing glass, can often lead to other consequential issues such as distortion [in the glass] and cracking (as a result of the heat generated from machine polishing). The real issue here is that none of the ‘approved’ windscreen repairers offer glass polishing as a service. Furthermore, in terms of what you’re covered for, scratched glass is (usually) not indemnifiable or construed as damage or loss. With that in mind, for the scratches which can be polished successfully, insurers can balk at the idea of paying for polishing services which in itself appears to be a bizarre stance given the cost of some replacement windscreens. Conversely, if polishing a scratched windscreen will cost around £100.00, a lesser excess of £75.00 will get the insured party a new windscreen. In this context it’s a no-brainer. Also, fast forward to when the approved repairer rocks up to replace the glass, there is no emphasis on him or her to question why the glass is being replaced: scratched glass may not be an MOT failure, and in any case, if the insurer does not payout for scratched or scuffed glass it won’t be an insured loss. The focus however, is for the windscreen fitter to actually fit the glass as quickly as possible and move on to the next job because that’s what his manager wants: a new windscreen is what the customer also wants. The same culture of replacing exists with chipped windscreens, or glass which is delaminating or pitted.

“Accidentally drive into a flying hammer and let your insurance company do the rest… wink, wink”

Insurance companies are not doing enough to ensure that claims are genuine and that only genuine claims can be made. Equally, their nominated or approved repairers are too busy to query the validity of questionable claims. They have their own targets to aim at and service delivery agreements to fulfill. The flip-side of this coin is that the policyholders can often place their own demands and ransoms on the situation. “I’m sorry, sir but that chip is perfectly repairable.” “I don’t want a repair; I want a new windscreen!”

As much as consumers are being spoiled by service providers, who in turn are pandering to their, as well as the insurance company’s demands, the insurer rubber stamps invoices and files them as ‘settled’, job done. Easy. And on the basis that any free lunches will be paid for somewhere eventually, the average motorist can look forward to higher insurance premiums further down the road, and that’s why if the insurance don’t offer compensation, there are companies as Hegwer Law which could really help with this. Yes, there are other significant factors which contribute towards the cost of motor insurance but calculating risk – actuary – is extremely complex and much of the profiling is extracted from claim statistics and calculations formulated from mathematical probabilities. Added to this are injury and fraudulent claims. This article focuses on one of those elements: flaws in the windscreen claims system and the claims culture cultivated by consumers. 

Related post: Leaking Windscreens are NOT covered.

Buyer Beware: Glass Cover



Are you having difficulty getting your insurance company’s preferred repairer to fit a genuine ‘OE’ replacement windscreen for your car? Is the windscreen company waiting to see if the underwriter will authorise your request?


First and foremost, before you go reaching for the latest version of the Consumer Rights Act legislation as you prepare to refer the matter to the ‘Insurance Ombudsman’, you should have a look at what you agreed to before policy inception; it usually states very clearly what the outcome will be be in the event of a windscreen claim.

Should you be paying a supplement for a genuine windscreen?

In a nutshell, no. You should not be making up the difference if your preference is for an ‘authentic’ part, not unless there is an explicit exclusion stated within your Policy Schedule, or Key Facts. Unless you have agreed to pay the difference for OE parts when the insurance terms were proposed, the insurer nor the repairer cannot charge you – the policyholder – the difference between an aftermarket, or ‘copy’, windscreen and one supplied by the vehicle manufacturer.

The onus is on you to ask these questions before you accept the proposed arrangement when shopping around for your motor insurance.

Look Without Watching


Why watching your windscreen fitter may not be a good idea.


The moment you have been fearing has arrived. You’re about to have your windscreen replaced, and the thought of a stranger getting intimate with your car is making you feel uncomfortable. What do you do?

An immediate and infinite resource is the internet, and you can always tap into the experience of somebody else who has survived such an event; forewarned is forearmed. However, one commonly offered fragment of windscreen wisdom might just preempt the very thing you fear the most.

Windscreen Replacement in Progress

Windscreen Replacement in Progress

Popular advice to, “watch the fitter like a hawk” is understandable given the horror stories being recited by those who have had the misfortune of witnessing them. But what if your own actions are to blame? What if your own fear becomes the cause of the fitter fluffing it? Nothing says, ‘you cannot be trusted to do a good job without me watching you’ more than becoming the technician’s shadow during the process. This is not to say that you should not be around, or that you’re not welcome, but discussing your concerns could mean that you may not, after all, have to perch yourself upon the poor chap’s shoulder, ready to Kango through his skull, to peck out his brain the moment he slips up.

Hiding in Garage

Resist hiding in your garage

Relax. If you’ve been diligent in your research you might even have the right person turning up to do the job. In which case, greet him, exchange a few pleasantries and simply get on with your day (offer him a cup of tea as you would do with anyone when welcoming them to your abode). Breaking your new-windscreen-replacement virginity however may require a bit more courting before the fitter starts stripping down (the car, that is).  Do make yourself available, perhaps telling him where you’ll be should he need you for anything.This may also be a useful time to utilise, perhaps in the garage, garden or greenhouse for example.

Windscreen Replacement in Progress

The Stealth Watchman

Is it alright to watch the fitter from start to finish?

Ask him (or her) if they would mind you being nosey. Be honest about it (but without being obvious). Many tradesmen cannot perform if they’re being watched. It makes them nervous, or that they become too aware of the company which throws them off their routine. Replacing a windscreen is a methodology which requires concentration and alertness. An experienced windscreen technician – or automotive glazier – will follow a step-by-step procedure they have in their head, and this (usually) ensures everything gets done, and in the right order. In the circumstances it is probably best to leave him to his own devices; you’re just going to have to trust him, but do try and tap into your own instincts. Does he inspire confidence? Is he well presented? Is his van clean and tidy? How happy (or sad) is his demeanor? Remember, he’s not only working on your car; he’s also your guest and so you should make him feel as welcome as one. If the impression you get is not good, it might just be your cue to become a curtain twitcher.

Windscreen Voyeurism?

Peekaboo! Windscreen Voyeurism?

By all means look, but try not to watch. You could end up maneuvering your gaze into a voyeuristic trespass.



Insurance Questions: Windscreen Cover

Can I get my insurer to pay for this?

Most comprehensive insurance policies will include windscreen cover as standard. As straight forward as this may appear, there are some grey areas, some of which has been misinterpreted or misunderstood, to cause confusion amongst the insured.

Direct Vision through Windscreen

Direct Vision through Windscreen

Here are some of the most common questions asked on Internet forums; but first, it should be noted that the onus is very much on policyholder to tell the truth. The repairer’s role is a position of trust and one which requires him or her to make an assessment on behalf of the insurer/underwriter (as well as to present the policyholder the correct diagnosis). Honesty is always the best policy, but there are a few areas which are open to abuse.

“I bought a car which had a cracked windscreen,” or that the car had a chipped windscreen which has previously been repaired badly.

This is probably the most asked question, and almost definitely the one which shows the most ignorance and dishonesty among those who discuss it. The reality is, the damage occurred before (current) policy inception. It is not a loss the insurer is obliged to indemnify. The problem with this situation is that the insurer relies on the honesty of the policyholder, and the integrity of the repairer but there is no way of verifying the cause (and date) of the reported damage.

“My windscreen is scratched. Am I covered?”

A tricky one and very much subjective. How an insurer – or the insurance policy – interprets damage is how this one will be defined. Policy wording seldom identifies scratched glass as damage, which would most likely need an auto glass replacement. Although it could be argued that graffiti is vandalism, this may not be covered under the windscreen insurance end of the policy (some insurers have paid out for this under general insurance which will carry a higher excess and will impact the policyholder’s NCD). The only way to ascertain if wiper scratches or general scratches (such as from clearing ice or dirt from the windscreen) are covered by an insurer is to check the policy Key Facts or speak to the insurer. The problem this presents is that the ‘glassline’ number will usually be pointed straight at the prevailing repairer whose role is to make an honest and correct assessment on behalf of the insurer it is representing.

Pitted Windscreen 2

Pitted Windscreen

Pitted Glass

“There is surface pitting on my windscreen. When I’m driving into direct sunlight, or oncoming headlamps, I can’t see through the glass. It’s like the windscreen has been shot blasted and is covered with millions of tiny chips about the size of a pin head.”

First and foremost, the windscreen is a forward facing piece of glass in a vehicle. In other words, the driver’s direct view of the road is reliant on the windscreen being in good condition, or being fit for purpose. For vehicle to be legally roadworthy, the MOT Testers Manual states that a reason for rejection is:

“a combination of minor damage areas which seriously restricts the driver’s view in the remainder of the [wiper] swept area”

With this in mind, does this correlate and fit into what the insurer will construe as damage, or an indemnifiable loss? Some insurers will allow some discretion whilst others may not be so accommodating.  Most pertinent to note is that this is all open to interpretation whichever way you were to look at it and the system (in the absence of a better noun) is open to abuse by all parties.

“Will claiming on my insurance impact my NCD?”

Probably the most enigmatic and undefined areas of windscreen insurance is what subsequent impact a claim will have on any future insurance. The majority of policies will state that there will be no impact on NCD following a windscreen claim, however, some policies clearly do. Furthermore, there is no definitive statement from any insurer whether – regardless of how NCD may or may not be affected – the premium will be increased on renewal. Is there a claw-back somewhere? The nature of the business suggests there might be; is it a factor in the rising cost of motor insurance? There is no official word on this and insurance industry representatives remain reticent.

Windscreen Replacement

Windscreen Replacement

Have you had one of these windscreen claim experiences with your insurer? Please use the comments section to tell us all about it; your contribution may be useful to others.