Getting a chip or crack in the windshield of your rental car can be an annoying and stressful experience. If you’re trying to figure out if you’ll have to pay for the damage or how to handle reporting it, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: you should report any windshield damage to the rental company right away, but you likely won’t have to pay for a minor chip thanks to insurance coverage. Keep reading for more details.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through what to do step-by-step if you get a windshield chip or crack in a rental car. You’ll learn about common rental car insurance policies, how to minimize your liability, steps for reporting damage, estimates for repair costs, tips to avoid chips and cracks, and more.

Understanding Rental Car Insurance Policies

When renting a car, it is important to understand the various insurance policies available to you. This knowledge can save you from unnecessary stress and expenses in case of an accident or damage to the vehicle. Here are the main types of rental car insurance policies you should be aware of:

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is the most basic form of coverage that most rental car companies offer. It provides protection in case you cause damage to someone else’s property or injure someone while driving the rental car.

This type of insurance is usually included in the rental cost, but it’s important to check the terms and limits of coverage.

Collision Damage Waiver

A collision damage waiver (CDW) is an optional insurance policy that protects you from financial responsibility for damage to the rental car. If you purchase a CDW, the rental car company will waive its right to collect for damages, theft, or loss of the vehicle.

However, it’s important to note that a CDW does not cover personal injury or damage to other vehicles or property. It is often recommended to consider purchasing a CDW to avoid potential out-of-pocket expenses in case of an accident.

Your Personal Car Insurance

If you already have car insurance for your personal vehicle, it may provide some coverage for rental cars as well. Many car insurance policies extend coverage to rental cars, but it’s important to review your policy and check with your insurance provider to understand the extent of coverage.

Some personal car insurance policies may have limitations or exclusions, so make sure to clarify any doubts before renting a car.

It’s worth mentioning that credit card companies may also offer rental car insurance as a benefit. Some credit cards provide coverage for damage to the rental car if you use the card to pay for the rental.

However, the coverage provided by credit cards is often secondary to your personal car insurance policy, so it’s important to check the terms and conditions.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to thoroughly read the rental car insurance policies before making a decision. Understanding the coverage options and potential limitations can help you make an informed choice and ensure you are adequately protected during your rental period.

Steps To Take if You Get a Windshield Chip

Report it Immediately

If you notice a windshield chip in your rental car, it is important to report it to the rental company immediately. Most rental companies have specific protocols in place for handling damage to their vehicles, and they will want to be notified as soon as possible.

This will help you avoid any potential disputes or claims of negligence later on. Plus, reporting the chip promptly can also protect you from being held responsible for any further damage that may occur.

Document the Damage

Before contacting the rental company, take the time to document the windshield chip. Use your phone or camera to take clear photos of the chip from different angles. This will serve as evidence of the existing damage and can help prevent any disputes about the extent of the chip.

Make sure to capture the size, location, and any other relevant details in the photos. Additionally, note down the date and time of the incident to further support your case.

Review the Rental Agreement

Prior to renting the car, it is essential to carefully review the rental agreement. Pay close attention to any clauses regarding damage to the vehicle, including windshield chips. Some rental companies may have specific policies in place for dealing with such situations, such as limits on the size of allowable chips or requirements for additional insurance coverage.

Understanding your rights and obligations outlined in the agreement will help you navigate the situation more effectively.

Paying for Repairs

Depending on the circumstances and the terms of your rental agreement, you may be responsible for paying for the repairs of the windshield chip. In some cases, your personal car insurance or credit card coverage may provide protection for rental car damage.

However, it is important to contact your insurance provider or credit card company to confirm the coverage and any potential deductibles. If you are liable for the repairs, discuss the options with the rental company and find out if they have preferred repair shops or if they can assist you in arranging the necessary repairs.

Remember, taking immediate action, documenting the damage, reviewing the rental agreement, and understanding your financial responsibilities are key steps to take if you get a windshield chip in a rental car.

By following these steps, you can effectively handle the situation and ensure a smooth rental car experience.

What Repairing a Windshield Chip Costs

Dealing with a windshield chip in a rental car can be a hassle, but it’s important to address the issue promptly to avoid further damage. The cost of repairing a windshield chip can vary depending on the severity of the damage and the method of repair chosen. Here are some options to consider:

Crack Repair Kit

If the chip is small and the damage is minimal, you may be able to fix it yourself using a crack repair kit. These kits typically include a resin that can be injected into the chip to fill and seal it.

The cost of these kits can range from $10 to $30, making them an affordable option for minor repairs. However, keep in mind that DIY repairs may not always provide a long-lasting solution, especially for larger chips or cracks.

Professional Repair

For more significant chips or cracks, it’s best to seek professional help. A professional windshield repair service will have the expertise and equipment to properly assess and repair the damage. The cost of professional repairs can vary, but it typically ranges from $50 to $150, depending on the size and location of the chip.

It’s important to note that some rental car companies may require you to use their approved repair service, so be sure to check the rental agreement for any specific guidelines.

Full Windshield Replacement

In some cases, the damage to the windshield may be too extensive to repair, requiring a full replacement. This is usually the case if the chip or crack is larger than a quarter or if it obstructs the driver’s line of sight.

The cost of a full windshield replacement can be significant, ranging from $200 to $500 or more, depending on the make and model of the car. It’s important to contact the rental car company immediately if you believe a full replacement is necessary, as they may have specific procedures and guidelines for handling such situations.

Remember, it’s always best to address a windshield chip in a rental car as soon as possible to prevent further damage. If you’re unsure about the best course of action, consult with a professional service or contact the rental car company for guidance.

Tips to Avoid Windshield Damage

Inspect at Pickup

One of the first things you should do when renting a car is to thoroughly inspect the windshield for any existing chips or cracks. Take note of any damages and bring them to the attention of the rental company before you drive off.

By doing this, you can avoid being held responsible for any pre-existing damage that may not have been caused by you during your rental period.

Give Space on Gravel Roads

Gravel roads can be a common cause of windshield damage, especially if you’re driving at high speeds. The small rocks and debris kicked up by other vehicles can easily chip or crack your windshield. To avoid this, it’s best to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you, giving yourself enough time to react and avoid any potential damage.

Avoid Extreme Temperature Changes

Extreme temperature changes can cause stress on your windshield, making it more prone to chips and cracks. For example, parking your rental car in direct sunlight on a hot day and then suddenly blasting the air conditioning can cause the glass to expand and contract rapidly, leading to potential damage.

Similarly, parking your car in freezing temperatures and then immediately turning on the defrost can have the same effect. To prevent this, try to park in shaded areas or use a sunshade to minimize exposure to direct sunlight, and gradually adjust the temperature inside the car when necessary.

Park Safely

Where and how you park your rental car can also affect the likelihood of windshield damage. Whenever possible, choose well-lit and secure parking areas to reduce the risk of vandalism or theft. Additionally, be mindful of trees and branches overhead that may pose a potential hazard.

Parking away from trees or using designated parking spots can help prevent falling branches from causing damage to your windshield.

Remember, while these tips can help minimize the chances of windshield damage, accidents can still happen. If you do find yourself with a windshield chip or crack in a rental car, it’s important to notify the rental company as soon as possible.

They will be able to guide you on the necessary steps to take, such as getting the damage assessed and repaired.

FAQs about Rental Car Windshield Damage

Does a chip always need repair?

While it may be tempting to ignore a small chip in a rental car’s windshield, it is generally recommended to have it repaired as soon as possible. Even though a chip may seem insignificant, it can quickly turn into a larger crack due to changes in temperature or stress from driving.

Repairing a chip is usually a quick and affordable process that can prevent further damage and ensure the safety of the driver and passengers.

Can I drive with a cracked windshield?

Driving with a cracked windshield is generally not advisable, as it can compromise your safety on the road. A crack can impair your visibility, especially when it reflects sunlight or headlights. Additionally, a cracked windshield is more susceptible to shattering in the event of a collision or sudden impact.

If you notice a crack in a rental car’s windshield, it is best to notify the rental company and have it repaired or replaced before continuing your journey.

Will a chip affect trade-in value?

Having a chip in a rental car’s windshield can potentially affect its trade-in value, especially if the chip has grown into a larger crack. When returning the rental car, the rental company will likely inspect the vehicle for any damages, including windshield chips and cracks.

If the damage is deemed significant, they may charge you for the repair or deduct the cost from your deposit. It is always best to address any windshield damage promptly to avoid any potential financial implications.

Who pays for repairs?

The responsibility for paying for windshield repairs in a rental car depends on the rental company’s policy and the terms of your rental agreement. In most cases, if the damage was not caused by negligence or a violation of the rental agreement, the rental company will cover the cost of repairs.

However, it is important to review the terms and conditions of your rental agreement to understand your obligations and potential liabilities in the event of windshield damage.


Dealing with a windshield chip or crack in a rental car can quickly put a damper on your travels. While an inconvenience, following the proper steps to document and report the damage can minimize headaches.

Most importantly, don’t stress too much – minor chips likely won’t incur repair fees thanks to built-in insurance protections. With the advice in this guide, you can handle a rental car windshield chip with confidence.

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