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

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
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 youtube.com

But our personal experience with windshield strikes says, be as cautious as you like but you still may fall victim. In more than 40 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 nation-wide 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.

[Note from editor: There’s also a glass shortage to deal with. Read about it here, from KOMOnews.com: National glass shortage means delays, increase costs for auto glass repairs.]

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Bill
14 days ago

Rock Strikes, also come head-on.
It happened to us on July 19, 2021. Base Ball size hit center windshield.
55mph x 2 = Bang at 110mph. Semi towing 2 huge beet trailers with no covering.
Something came flying at us on the Hi Way 2 lane (caught it on the dash cam flying through the air). Windshield held up to the impact. It did not break on the inside. Had the windshield replaced as it could not be repaired. I put silicone on the smashed area to keep the chips from falling off.
We live in a rural area – so it is a built-in Hazard on these roads.
Meet one head on, can trying to keep it going straight and slowing down.
No place to post photos. Drove straight to the Glass Shop and ordered a replacement.
No Insurance coverage. Deductible was higher than the replacement.

Barfy
20 days ago

The only things that can come off a truck are chicken feathers, clean water, straw bale dust

Jerry
21 days ago

Insurance companies count glass repair as a claim on you.

Sebastian
21 days ago

If you have a newer vehicle with sensors behind the windshield, that’s an additional cost to eat. Our Jeep windshield was $500, but the sensor alignment was an additional $300! I’ve since lowered my deductible…

Colin
21 days ago

Alberta is the worst for sanding crews putting round marble size gravel on the roads. I feel lucky if I escape without having to replace a windshield.

Tom
21 days ago

I stay way back from truck, and hope some car comes between us so he can catch the rocks.

Bob M
21 days ago

Another issue is the police don’t do their job and ticket vehicles who’s tires extend out past the fender wells and throw the small stones. Some tractor with trailers that don’t have the ISO shipping containers on. throw rocks up and end up hitting vehicle windows

Dana Lakeman
21 days ago

If driving on the I-15 corridor around Las Vegas, NV be aware of Las Vegas Paving trucks. They sling rocks. One damaged my car. I filed a claim. My wife was a witness. Because I didn’t get the truck license plate number my claim was denied. Let me understand, I’m passing one of Las Vegas Paving Company trucks. I get my glass broken or a dent in my car. Las Vegas Paving wants me to slow down, get back behind their truck, subject my vehicle to more rock damage, and get a license plate number! I’ve since purchased a dash cam!

Brad Teubner
22 days ago

When dinged by an oncoming car, they throw the rock up and you drive into it at speed. If practical slow way down when meeting cars where this is likely. Short gravel detours for construction, for example.

Paul S Goldberg
22 days ago

After many years with one insurance company I changed carriers for a better price. I included “Full Replacement for Windshield” in the new policy. One $2,000 replacement on me in the past was enough to educate me. Within 100 miles of making the change a dually pickup swerved in front of me and pitched a stone into my windshield in my line of site. I stopped and put tape on it and finished driving across the country and got it fixed when I was staying in one place long enough to make an appointment. The company you linked to in the story told me they no longer replace windshields in the NY Finger Lakes area!

The Lazy Q
22 days ago

My wife had a chunk of concrete from a cement truck smash into her windshield as she was passing, luckily she kept control but it could of easily hurt or killed her. The shock of it all didn’t allow for information gathering to contact the company.

I was passing a commercial truck that had ladders, buckets and tools tied to the back except the one bucket that flew out and hit me. I got the driver to pull over, I checked my car for damage and let him know what happened and he best check his load better. You can be sure on this occasion if damage occurred they would have paid or we’d be in court.

Dr4Film
22 days ago

Some states like Florida, there is a statute whereby insurance companies must replace a cracked windshield with no deductible. “Comprehensive coverage; deductible not to apply to motor vehicle glass.—The deductible provisions of any policy of motor vehicle insurance, delivered or issued in this state by an authorized insurer, providing comprehensive coverage or combined additional coverage shall not be applicable to damage to the windshield of any motor vehicle covered under such policy.”

The Lazy Q
22 days ago
Reply to  Dr4Film

California at one time did, insurance no longer covers.

Jim Collins
15 days ago
Reply to  Dr4Film

Exactly, if insured in Florida they must fix or repair at no cost to the driver, I am 81 and had to have my first windshield replaced in 65 years, don’t know of any other states but believe it should be universal.

david
22 days ago

Ding in the windshield. I carry one of those $10 repair kits, when I get a ding, I pull over and fix it at the next convenient pull over, They work great, easy to use. Only takes a few minutes, shorter time after you have done it once or twice.

Ron
22 days ago

Had a cracked windshield in my rv from a car thrown up a stone on highway,called Ford dealership and ended up with a small mobile company that comes to you,price was reasonable and also came with warranty so far no complaints

Dave
22 days ago

Super glue in the “ding” works also. Soon as you can, put a drop of super glue in the ding and it probably stop the spread of the crack for years.

Kate
22 days ago

I have a Subaru Forester with “eyesight”, which makes windshield replacement run over $1000.00. I was driving last year near some MoDOT mowers, and one of them threw a rock and cracked the windshield. I stopped, talked to the foreman, and found I could file a claim online. They contacted me for pictures and estimate for replacement, then cut me a check for the full amount. I was flabbergasted, but so thankful!

Richard Hughes
22 days ago

Several years ago, a section of I-10 was widened at Tucson, AZ. After a short time, the thin asphalt layer, placed over the concrete began to break up causing thousands of cracked and broken windshields. The State finally stepped up and accepted claims to replace the glass. Today you drive over concrete with small patches of asphalt that didn’t come up when road crews scraped the top layer off the road.

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