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Repair of a broken windshield would be covered under the collision or comprehensive portion of your car insurance policy, depending on what caused the break. Collision covers damage to your car caused by a traffic accident, and comprehensive covers damage caused by other factors, such as vandalism, natural disasters, collisions with animals and falling objects. Both types of coverage are optional and have a deductible.

However, some car insurance policies waive the comprehensive deductible for windshield repairs to encourage car owners to repair small chips inexpensively, rather than waiting until they develop into large cracks that require replacement of the entire windshield. Check your policy for details about the deductible.

What if a vandal smashes the windshield or a falling rock chips the glass and you don't have comprehensive insurance? Then, you pay the full tab for the repairs.

Shop around for the right shop

Shop around for a qualified shop to do the work. You can get a list of recommended auto glass service providers from your insurance company.

Beware of overly aggressive windshield repair technicians who go door to door or set up booths at car washes and gas stations to solicit business. Some of those operators are legitimate, but some are not qualified, and some talk customers into windshield replacement when only small repairs are necessary.

Safety is important. The windshield is responsible for a large portion of the cabin's structural integrity, and must be installed correctly to ensure proper deployment of airbags.

Check whether the auto glass service provider uses original equipment manufacturer adhesives and glass, and look for companies that have committed to installations that meet standards set by the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council.