Rhode Island Windshield Insurance: What are the Full Glass coverage laws in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island law prohibits driving with a damaged windshield, but glass coverage can help repair it. Read on to learn how Rhode Island windshield insurance can help you.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 12, 2022

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Things to remember

  • Depending on the source of the damage, collision, comprehensive, and full glass coverage can be used as Rhode Island windshield insurance
  • Rhode Island law requires drivers to have an unobstructed view of the road at all times
  • The average ticket for driving with a damaged windshield is  $125, though you probably won’t be fined if the damage recently happened

It’s an unfortunate truth about driving —spend enough time on the road, and you’re bound to get windshield damage.

Surface streets and highways are often covered in small materials, like pebbles, bits of wood, and glass. When a car drives over them, they are often launched into the air. As a result, airborne debris occasionally hits your windshield.

Smaller debris usually doesn’t do too much damage to a windshield, but some impacts can cause serious cracks.

Since cracks can obscure your vision while driving (as well as weaken the structural integrity of the glass), most states require drivers to replace a damaged windshield. Rhode Island has several laws concerning windshield damage, but the general idea is that you’ll need to replace damaged glass.

Luckily, there are several affordable car insurance options that will cover windshield damage.

Ready to learn more about windshield replacement in RI? Read on to explore Rhode Island’s laws, then learn how insurance can help keep your windshield clear.

What is windshield damage?

As you might imagine, there are a lot of things out there that can damage your windshield.The term “windshield damage” covers several types of cracks and chips to your front window:

  • Edge cracks. These cracks occur within two inches of the edge of your windshield and almost always mean the windshield needs to be replaced.
  • Stress cracks. Stress cracks happen due to temperature changes, usually when it goes from very hot to very cold in a short period.
  • Float cracks. These start in the middle and spider outwards.
  • Crack chips. Crack chips are tiny and happen when something small hits your window without much force.
  • Shatter. When something large hits your window with a lot of force, you’ll see much more than a crack. This damage looks like a spider web and must be fixed immediately.

You have two options when it comes to windshield damage. You can either repair the glass or have it replaced. The amount of damage and its location are the deciding factors, but a crack larger than six inches typically needs to be replaced.

If you need to get your windshield replaced, a glass technician will remove the entire piece and install a new one. When the windshield is repairable, the technician will thoroughly clean it and inject a clear resin. After the resin is cured, you won’t know the crack was ever there.

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What are the Rhode Island cracked windshield laws?

You can’t drive with any crack that impairs your vision or threatens your safety.

There are several windshield laws in Rhode Island that drivers need to be aware of. They include:

  • Chips, cracks, and other damage within the windshield wiper area in front of the driver are prohibited.
  • Damage that allows the glass to move or damage the safety seal within the glass layers is prohibited.
  • Discoloration around the edge of the windshield is acceptable.
  • Minor cracks without separation areas are permissible, except when they are directly in the driver’s line of sight.
  • Replacement windshield glass must be the same material and quality, and repairs must restore the vehicle to its original state.

Rhode Island has several other laws regarding windshields that have nothing to do with damage:

  • No posters, signs, stickers, or other non-transparent materials are allowed on the windshield that obstructs the driver’s view, except those required by law.
  • Cars must have windshield wipers that work to their full extent, and there can be no damage that prevents them from operating.

Aside from state law, the federal government requires drivers to keep their windshields clear. According to federal law, chips or cracks must be smaller than ¾ inch and no more than three inches close to each other.

The driver’s viewing area, or the area directly above the steering wheel, must be free of damage.

What happens if you drive with a cracked windshield in Rhode Island?

The punishment for driving with a cracked windshield depends on the extent of the damage and how long it’s been there.

For example, if a police officer pulls you over, but you explain that the damage just happened while you were driving, you’ll probably be let go with a simple warning to get it fixed.

However, big cracks that go unfixed for months might earn you a ticket. Tickets for cracked windshields typically range from $100 to $150 for the first citation. Depending on your car, replacing a windshield in Rhode Island costs anywhere from $170 to $820, so it’s best to avoid another bill.

Can you get Rhode Island windshield insurance?

You can probably get your windshield replaced as long as you have the right insurance, but your windshield won’t be covered if you only have the state minimum insurance requirement. Rhode Island requires drivers to have liability and uninsured/underinsured motorists, neither of which covers damage to your windshield

The most commonly used type of insurance to repair a windshield is comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive protects your car from unexpected damage not caused by a collision. Covered damage includes fire, animal contact, vandalism, theft, and weather.

If you’re driving down the street and a rock hits your window, you can probably make a claim with your comprehensive insurance.

However, a collision policy would cover damage done to your windshield if it occurs in a car accident. Even if you caused the incident, collision insurance will cover it.

A final option is a full glass coverage add-on. You can buy this additional coverage to help replace your windshield. Repairs often come with a $0 deductible, but you might have to pay one if the windshield needs to be replaced. Typically, you can use this add-on once a year.

How do you file a Rhode Island windshield insurance claim?

If you want to make an insurance claim for your windshield, follow these easy steps:

  • Measure the cracks and chips, then take photographs.
  • File a claim with your preferred method, usually by going online, using a mobile app, or calling your agent.
  • Provide your photos and measurements to the claims adjuster.
  • Choose a glass technician that your insurance company approves. You might have to take your car to their facility, or they may come to you.

Once your windshield is repaired, the claim is finalized, and you’ll be ready to drive again.

Before you file a claim, you should assess the damage on your windshield first. After all, even a windshield claim might raise your rates and cost you a claim-free discount.

If the damage is not permissible by Rhode Island law, you’ll need to have it repaired or replaced. Generally speaking, any crack over six inches long means the windshield should be replaced.

If the crack is small, you should get it repaired as quickly as possible. A small chip can turn into a spider web of cracks as you continue to drive, but glass repairs will prevent it from spreading.

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How to Find the Best Auto Insurance for Windshield Replacement in RI

Windshield damage is a common occurrence on the road and something that every driver will eventually face. However, you won’t have to pay the total cost of repairs if you have the right auto insurance.

Comprehensive insurance and full glass coverage can help pay for windshield replacement in RI. Both coverages can increase your rates, but you can compare auto insurance quotes with multiple companies to find the best rates for you.

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