Windscreen Cover and What You Should Know
Windscreen damage is all too common on Irelands busy roads, and while you may not be at fault (78% of all windscreen cracks and chips are caused by stones kicked up by passing vehicles), you could be left with a hefty bill, particularly if your windscreen needs replacing. This is why Windscreen Cover is essential for drivers young and old.
What is Windscreen Cover?
As the name would suggest, windscreen cover is an additional layer of car insurance that covers the costs of repairing or replacing a damaged windscreen. While included in most fully comprehensive car insurance plans, it does not come as standard with third-party and third-party, fire and theft (TPFT) insurance policies, but it can, in most instances, be added as an optional extra for a small premium.
In addition to covering the cost of windscreen repairs and replacements, Windscreen Cover usually extends to all other car windows and even sunroofs, and so it is a sound investment for any car owner, but inclusions vary from insurer to insurer, and so you need to read the small print when comparing car insurance quotes.
Can I Legally Drive in Ireland with a Damaged Windscreen?
Depending on where it is located, you may be able to continue driving your car with some minor windscreen damage such as a hairline crack or small chip, but if it obstructs your vision in any way, then you could fall short of the law. According to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), who set guidelines for the 2.5 million vehicles on Irish roads, your car must meet specific technical standards and pass road-worthiness inspections to be granted an NCT, and if your windscreen damage does not fall within the ‘acceptable limits’ you could be subjected to a fine.
If your vision is impaired in anyway, you must repair or replace your windscreen immediately. Failure to do so could make your car insurance invalid.
Cracked Windscreens and the National Car Test (NCT)
While it can be tempting to ignore a small windscreen crack or chip to save money on repairs or replacement, this could be false economy. If your windscreen is deemed ‘damaged beyond acceptable limits’ during your NCT, your vehicle could fail the compulsory vehicle inspection programme, and you will be unable to drive your car in Ireland.
Whether your windscreen can be repaired or not will depend on the location and size of the damage. During the NCT, the windscreen is broken down into different zones A, B, C, based on the centre line of the driver’s seat. Damage in zone A is limited in size to 10mm, in zone B to 20mm, and zone C to 40mm, anything above this cannot be repaired, and the windscreen must be replaced to comply with the Codes of Practice BS AU242 and BS AU251.
Fortunately, most windscreen chips and cracks can be repaired by windscreen replacement companies for a small fee, or, if you have windscreen cover as part of your car insurance policy, for free, and so it makes perfect sense to fix them before they grow into something bigger.
Windscreen Damage: Will it Affect Your No Claims Bonus?
If you have windscreen cover, either as part of your comprehensive car insurance policy, or as an added extra to your third-party insurance plan, making a claim for windscreen damage shouldn’t affect your no claims bonus. However, this could vary from policy to policy, and so check yours carefully before making a claim.
If you find that this will affect your no claims bonus, it may make financial sense to pay for the damage yourself, rather than claiming on your insurance if you are at risk of losing your no claims discount. Your insurance broker will be able to advise you on this.
In some instances, you may have to pay an ‘excess’ amount for windscreen damage, if applicable to your policy, but this should be minimal and considerably less than paying for a new windscreen or repairs.
Top 5 Windscreen Protection Tips
While it is impossible to prevent windscreen damage altogether, you can limit the risk with these top 5 tips:
- Change windscreen wiper blades frequently, at least once per year
- Always maintain the Safe Headway Distance (otherwise referred to as the two second rule)
- Wherever possible, park your car in a sheltered area to reduce the risk of weather damage
- Reduce your speed. The faster a stone hits your windshield, the more damage it is likely to do
- Examine your windscreen regularly and repair minor damage immediately