Does Rental Car Insurance Cover a Cracked Windshield?

A cracked windshield on a rental car can be covered by a collision damage waiver, your regular car insurance, or a credit card.
Written by R.E. Fulton
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If your rental car windshield has a crack or chip, you’ll need to contact the rental company and evaluate your insurance coverage options. The repairs may be covered by your collision damage waiver from the rental company, your regular insurance policy, or even the credit card you used to book the car. 
No matter how carefully you drive, accidents can happen on the road. When they occur in a rental car, even minor damage like a cracked windshield might feel like a major crisis. However, depending on what
car insurance
coverage you chose when you booked the car, you may not be on the hook for repairs. 
Understanding your coverage options before you leave can save you a headache when that dreaded rental car windshield chip shows up. To help you out,
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trustworthy insurance comparison app
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Does rental car insurance cover a cracked windshield?

So you found a crack in the windshield of your rental car. Whether or not it’s covered by insurance depends on what insurance options you chose when renting the car. 
If you agreed to the rental car company’s collision damage waiver (CDW) when you signed for the car, you won’t be held liable for any additional charges. Even if you didn’t purchase the rental company’s insurance, you may have coverage through your personal car insurance or through the credit card you used to book the car. 
However, there are some situations where you could be uninsured for a cracked windshield on a rental car. If you refused the rental company’s waivers and your personal car insurance policy lacks
comprehensive coverage
, you may be on the hook for the repairs. 
Key Takeaway You could be covered for a cracked windshield on a rental car even if you didn’t sign the company’s collision damage waiver. 

Coverage options for a cracked windshield on a rental car

To understand when you’re covered and when you’re not, let’s break down all the potential coverage options when it comes to a cracked windshield on a rental car. 

Collision damage waiver (CDW) from the rental company

Whenever you go to sign the rental agreement for a car, the agent will try to get you to sign a collision damage waiver. These waivers are expensive—sometimes doubling the cost of renting the vehicle—but they offer pretty thorough protection against financial liability in the event of a cracked windshield. 
A CDW isn’t technically insurance: instead, it’s an agreement by the rental company that they won’t charge you for repairs, administrative costs, loss of use, towing, or diminished value if the car is damaged during your rental period. It’s the highest level of protection you can get, but it’s always overpriced. 

Collision and comprehensive insurance from your insurer

If you want to avoid paying the steep cost of a CDW, you can use your personal car insurance to cover your rental car. If you have collision and comprehensive coverage, your regular car insurance policy should cover damage like a cracked windshield. However, if you only have basic liability, your rental car will be effectively uninsured
Always check with your insurance carrier before you turn down a waiver—you don’t want to find out after the fact that your rental car isn’t covered!  

Rental collision coverage from your credit card

Believe it or not, your credit card might be the key to rental car insurance. Most credit cards offer free rental car insurance up to a certain limit, so you probably have coverage if you used a credit card to pay for your rental
Be aware, though, that the exact terms and coverages differ between credit card companies. Depending on the card, you may still be responsible for hidden fees such as administrative costs and towing, or for repairs if you’re outside of the country where you usually drive. 

Non-owner car insurance 

If you regularly rent cars because you don’t own one,
non-owner car insurance
is one option that can give you coverage for a cracked windshield. This is a more affordable approach to rental car insurance for drivers who frequently rely on rentals. 

Travel insurance

If you purchased travel insurance for your trip, it likely includes comprehensive coverage for rental car damage. Check the details of your travel insurance policy if you’ve got one—it may be the best way to handle a rental car windshield chip.  
MORE: How to avoid being unfairly charged for rental car damage

How to deal with a cracked windshield on a rental car

No matter what insurance coverage you have, the steps to dealing with a cracked windshield on a rental car are the same.
  • Start by checking your coverage options. The list above can help you determine what form of insurance will cover the damage. 
  • Contact the rental company and inform them of the damage. If you signed a CDW, you should be all set. If you didn’t, the rental company may offer to contact your insurance company and file a claim on your behalf.
  • If not, you’ll need to contact your insurance company and file a claim. 
Above all, don’t try to repair the damage yourself. It might seem tempting to fix the issue and avoid a lot of paperwork, but that is always a bad idea. Making any unauthorized repairs yourself will violate your rental agreement and create an even bigger problem. 
Key Takeaway If your rental car windshield is cracked, check your coverage options and let the rental company know—don’t try to fix it on your own!   

How to find affordable insurance for a rental car

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Rental companies follow different guidelines for defining damage to a rental car, but in general, any crack, dent, scratch, or other damage 2 inches or more in length will be considered damage.
If your rental car windshield was cracked as the result of an accident, your regular car insurance premium could go up, even though you were driving a rental car at the time.
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