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, although it could be argued that graffiti is vandalism but 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. Thank you!