A small rock flies off the truck in front of you and crashes right into the middle of your windshield.
Instinctually, you take note of the license plate and the company name on the back of the truck.
You quickly pull over and check it out. Fortunately, it didn’t do horrific damage and everyone in the car is safe.
Hopefully your car didn’t get paint chipped away like in this case.
For now, you proceed to dinner and decide to do your research on how to handle the situation later.
- Who will pay for this?
- My insurance company?
- The trucking company?
Today’s your lucky day (well, minus the rock flying at your windshield) because I’ve already done the research for you.
There’s several different ways a rock can hit your windshield.
But let’s look at the most common because how the rock hit your windshield is an important piece of information you’ll need later. Your solution may be dependent upon it.
The first scenario is likely that the truck in front of you was a box truck carrying a load of rocks that were essentially unsecured.
The second, trucks are known for kicking up things from the roadway, and rocks are often one of them.
The tricky thing is, proving that one or the other occurred. Even when it’s caught on video, it’s tough to really tell.
But even if a truck has a sign posted saying “Not Responsible For Broken Windshields” it may be liable to pay for your windshield replacement costs. The legal argument here does not stand if they have failed to secure their load and prevent spillage, thereby committing an infraction.
Requesting the Trucking Company Pay
State laws do require that all loads be safely secured and trucks with gravel, sand and dirt must be covered, unless they modify their rigs.
So if the truck in front of you was not secured safely and uncovered, it was breaking the law.
But there’s a catch, if the truck has several inches of wood or freeboard above the sides of the truck, it does not need to be covered.
Still, you could at the very least, attempt to contact the company and file a report.
In the end though, it is at the discretion of the company and/or the driver whether they pay for the damage or not.
If this is the route you choose to go, understand what you’re up against.
On the backs of many trucks, especially the ones carrying pebbles and rocks, there’s usually a sign that reads “Not responsible for rocks thrown from the road.” As if they already didn’t get their point across most have another one that reads “Warning – Stay back 100 feet.”
There’s a reason for this.
This is a frequent occurrence that happens every day on roadways all over the world.
If every person like you, whose car or truck’s windshield was damaged by a rock tried to receive payment from the company, trucking companies could be forking out thousands of dollars annually.
The only way the driver or the company could be responsible for the crack in the windshield is if the rock fell straight from the truck onto your windshield.
If however, a rock falls off the truck, hits the road and then bounces upward and damages your windshield, there’s no chance the driver of that truck would take responsibility or offer to pay for a replacement windshield.
The reason being, once the rock hits the pavement, it’s then considered a road hazard.
This is the reason for having the sign on the back of the truck that reads “Warning – Stay back 100 feet.”
As with everything though, there are exceptions to every rule.
If you can somehow prove that the truck was illegally overfilled, you may have a better chance of getting somewhere with the driver, and/or the company.
The difficult thing is though, acquiring the proof.
Unless you were able to think on your feet and quickly snap a shot of the back of the truck with your cell phone camera, you have a slim chance.
Filing an Insurance Claim
If you live in Florida you may have your windshield replaced at no cost to you through your insurance’s Comprehensive Coverage. You can check your coverage here.
Whether your deductible is $500 or $1,000, your windshield will be replaced with no money out of your pocket. This is because of a law in the state of Florida (and other states as mentioned below).
Even if the rock came directly from the truck and onto your windshield and the company or the driver refuses to take care of it, you may have a better chance filing a claim with your auto insurance company.
Although you may possibly be able to file the claim through the truck’s insurance company, you may run into the problem of providing proof that the rock did in fact come directly from the truck in front of you.
But don’t fret. As I’ve mentioned before you would be able to receive a free windshield replacement. Here’s the full scoop on that:
In many states, there is something called windshield replacement laws.
Free windshield replacement laws are tied into state insurance laws, which are set into place by each individual state.
If you live in a state that has specific insurance requirements related to auto glass replacement, it may be the responsibility of your insurance company to pay for your windshield repair or replacement in full — even if you have a deductible.
Also, the policy holder has total discretion on what auto-glass repair shop fixes the windshield just as long as it’s from a reputable business that is.
For example, let’s pretend you live in Tampa, Florida (a state with a windshield replacement law), you have full coverage on your automobile with a $350 deductible, and you have a large crack in your windshield. In Florida, your insurance company would waive that $350 deductible and you’d receive a free auto glass replacement.
Kentucky has a similar law, so if you lived Owensboro, Covington, Richmond, or Hopkinsville, and have a cracked windshield, you likely have a rightful claim for a windshield replacement, at no charge.
On the contrary though, if you live in a state without a windshield replacement law, your insurance company would not be obligated to cover the entire replacement — and you would be required to pay your own insurance deductible.
Which States have Free Replacement Windshield Laws?
The following states have specific insurance laws that address windshield replacement or repair:
- Arizona — In Arizona, you have the option of buying a separate auto glass endorsement (or waiver) when you purchase your auto insurance. If you have such an endorsement, you will not be required to pay your full deductible when you have your windshield replaced. This includes, Peoria, Avondale, Scottsdale, Flagstaff, Chandler, Tempe, Glendale, Gilbert, Phoenix, Mesa, Tucson, and other surrounding cities.
- Florida — Florida requires insurance underwriters to waive the deductible on windshield claims (but not necessarily on other auto glass). If you live in Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, or Orlando, Florida, you will likely be able to submit a valid claim to have your windshield replaced, at no cost to you. Check your coverage here.
- South Carolina — South Carolina is considered another “zero deductible” state for windshield and auto glass replacement claims. If you have comprehensive auto insurance and have a damaged windshield, you will likely qualify for a free windshield replacement.
- Massachusetts — The choice you make when purchasing your auto insurance policy will heavily influence whether or not you receive a free windshield replacement as part of your insurance claim. You may have friends living in one Massachusetts city who paid nothing while another friend in another city was required to pay a $200 deductible. The reason for the variations has to do with the decision to acquire a separate auto glass deductible on your policy.
- Kentucky — When it comes to windshield replacement and auto glass replacement, Kentucky is a “zero deductible” state.
- New York — In New York, most insurance companies offer policies that do not have a deductible for auto glass replacement.
The bottom line here is, if you are traveling behind a truck carrying pebbles, rocks or sand —especially on the highway—you should remain at a safe distance behind the truck.
If you live in any other state not mentioned above, check with your insurance carrier and policy to determine your comprehensive deductible.