Saturday, December 9, 2023


Rock strike! Who’s responsible for your broken windshield?

You’re happily motoring down the road in your RV. Ahead of you is a dump truck with a load of gravel. Suddenly, that awful thing happens! A chunk of gravel smacks your windshield, and a spidery pattern creeps across your view. Who’s responsible for that broken windshield?

How many? How much?

Here are a couple of “interesting” statistics. Each year in the U.S., around 13 to 14 million windshields are replaced. And how many more “should have been”? If your rig is a Class A unit, how much would it cost to have it replaced? There’s a wide range of prices, but one windshield installer says the average price of an RV windshield replacement is $2,000 – and he’s had them roll up to nearly $5,000! Who pays the price on that broken windshield?

If your rig has been victimized by the notorious “flying rock,” especially if you think it came off a truck, you know who ought to pay. But what about that sign on the back of the dump truck that reads: “Stay back. Not responsible for windshield damage.” If a rock flies off that truck and smacks your glass, is the company truly “not responsible”? Well, imagine you wear a sign that says, “Not responsible for nose damage,” and then you smack some guy in the face? Federal law requires trucking companies ensure their loads are secure. In our scenario, is the company responsible? Technically, yes. Getting satisfaction is another matter.

Hard case to win

Suppose your windshield is damaged from a rock that flies off a truck. First, it’s a matter of nailing down the culprit. Can you get a license plate number? A company name? Good on you. But even armed with that information, if push comes to shove, can you prove your case in court – because that’s where you’ll likely end up. The company will likely say, “How do we know that your windshield was damaged by a rock that came off our truck?” It’s a he says, she says issue, and a hard one to win.

Having a dash camera in your rig could work in your favor. Of course, the higher the resolution of the image, the better. If your dash cam can actually show the rock fly off the truck and directly impact your windshield, you’ve gone a long way to prove your case. But note, we said “directly” hit your windshield. What if the rock falls off the truck, bounces off the pavement, then hits your glass? In some states, a rock that comes up off the road and clobbers you is considered not the fault of the truck, but just an ordinary hazard that comes with driving. Your broken windshield is suddenly your responsibility. Bear in mind, even if you make your case in court, you’ll be looking at getting your damages covered – but not attorney fees. That’s the way the ball bounces – or is it the rock?

Pre-emptive strike

So what’s to be done? The best course of action is to avoid getting a windshield strike to begin with. Keep your eyes wide open and look for potential danger. If there’s a gravel truck ahead of you, stay way back. Small debris doesn’t usually travel too far. A couple of hundred feet is generally figured to be a safe following distance in gravel-tossing cases.

chris fix on

But our personal experience with windshield strikes says, be as cautious as you like but you still may fall victim. In more than 45 years of experience together, we’ve had several windshield strikes. One was when a rock came off a loaded truck – and no, they didn’t pay. The others were when another car – often an oncoming rig – picked up a rock already on the pavement and chucked it into our glass. If that happens to you, if it’s a “ding” or “bull’s-eye” hit, take action immediately. Get a piece of clear packing tape and stick it over the chip. Tape, to keep moisture out. Clear, so you can see through it. Get that ding fixed as soon as possible. By fixing a ding, you may prevent it from spreading. Here’s one outfit that has a nationwide network of repair shops. If it spreads, you’re well on the way to needing a full windshield replacement.

Assurance through insurance?

Which brings us to the costs of replacing a broken windshield. If you don’t have “comprehensive” insurance coverage on your rig, then the costs are fully yours. It may be attractive from a financial standpoint to just cover the minimum insurance required by law. But weigh out that decision carefully. If your rig were to take a hit and suffer a broken windshield, how much would it cost to fix it? Call a glass company now and get a quote. Then figure out how much it will cost you to carry comprehensive coverage. Get quotes for various “deductible” levels – the amount you’ll have to pay before the insurance company picks up the rest of the tab. You may find it’s a better bargain than you thought.

Windshield damage. When rocks fly, it can make you cry. Try to avoid it in the first place. Fix a ding quickly. And consider carrying insurance that can take some of the sting out of a tossed rock.



Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Neal Davis (@guest_256365)
1 month ago

Thank you, Russ and Tina!

Uncle Swags (@guest_256329)
1 month ago

I’m on my fourth windshield in 8 years and soon will be getting my fifth. My vehicle is apparently a rock magnet. The worst damage has come from vehicles coming at me showering rocks ahead of it. Tailgaters get what they deserve which is the real purpose of the truck signs warning to keep back.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles (@guest_256291)
2 months ago

Back when I worked for Geico, in early 1971, I described “comprehensive” as coverage from fire, flood, and freaking weather to people anxious to reduce the cost of their coverage. I would suggest to them if they felt the price was still excessive to consider holding onto it with a deductible. I’ve always kept the comprehensive when my cars aged out of collision being worthwhile. You only have to need it once to be properly grateful you kept up.

Scott Robinson (@guest_256288)
2 months ago

2 windshields in 2 months 1900.00 each rock from truck going the other direction both times 2021 Ram Laramie Longhorn

Stan Wutka (@guest_256260)
2 months ago

Some windshields are damage by the vehicle it self. As your front tires roll along the road, if a rock is sitting there, your tires will pinch the rock, and it shoots forward. Then your vehicle will catch up to the flying rock, hitting the windshield or front end. This is how windshield gets damaged or you get the tiny pot marks in your front end. This explains why it happens when no others vehicles are around.

Eric Bernhard (@guest_256162)
2 months ago

Seems the best way to possibly collect damages would be to have a high definition dash cam capable of catching the moment of impact, and the license info from the offending vehicle ahead.

Butterworth Millicent (@guest_256135)
2 months ago

I have a class A and have had 2 windshields replaced since 2005 and Progressive paid for all costs.

Barry (@guest_256091)
2 months ago

I love the “Stay Back 200 feet, Not Responsible”
Then the gravel truck passes you and pulls in front of you with less than 50 feet between.

Tom (@guest_256759)
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry


MattD (@guest_256089)
2 months ago

Another reason I’ll never buy a Class A…

Richard (@guest_256086)
2 months ago

Expecting someone else to fix your windshield, other than your own ins., is unreasonable. We’ve been FT for 17yrs in a class A. Replaced 5+ windshields. Have a ding in the current one. Cheapest was $1750. Only one rock came from the truck in front of us. One came from the opposite direction on a divided highway. I carry kits to stabilize dings until it can be repaired. The more vertical the windshield, the more vulnerable you are. I see it as part of the game of RVing. Like hail on the roof of a S&B.

Bob P (@guest_256027)
2 months ago

I have found that the cost of comprehensive insurance is much less than the cost of anything it covers to repair. If I never use it then many people would say it’s a waste of money, but if I use it one time it was a smart decision on my part. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Tony D (@guest_256021)
2 months ago

Oh Please! Stop trying to blame someone else for your woes in life. No technology in the world is going to save you. You’re going to spend that amount of $$$ in the courts and on lawyers – if not more. And – on to of that – YOUR insurance rates will go up. Stuff happens. If you’re too close to a dangerous situation YOU’RE going to suffer the consequences.

Seann Fox (@guest_256015)
2 months ago

I’ve had to have my windshield replaced twice both times I said I would pay for it myself and the cost then was less than the cost of my deductible. I asked him if I used Insurance how much it would be and they quadrupled the price just for having to deal with insurance

tom (@guest_256005)
2 months ago

Another Plus for having a quality dash cam. Consider getting one that also records your locatuon, based on GPS.

Elliot (@guest_256108)
2 months ago
Reply to  tom


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