Kiwis advised to check car windscreens ahead of Christmas amid rising costs and possible delays

AA Insurance says costs to repair windscreens are going up and global supply chain issues may mean there's a wait on getting them fixed.
AA Insurance says costs to repair windscreens are going up and global supply chain issues may mean there's a wait on getting them fixed. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Kiwis are advised to check their car, including the windscreen for chips, rust and scratches before heading away this Christmas season.

According to general insurer AA Insurance, it's the season for windscreen damage, as more people traveling around the country means more traffic on the road - and greater risk of damage.  

On hot, sunny days, the tar-seal gets soft and stones tend to come off more easily, one of the causes of more windscreen claims.

AA Insurance general manager operations, Simon Hobbs, said a bit of forward planning can save people money and time.

He suggests checking the car for chips and scratches, and getting them repaired early. This will prevent further damage - and cost - down the track.

"If you’re planning to hit the road this summer, ensure your car is in tip-top condition early, including seeing to any windscreen chips and scratches," Hobbs suggested.

Due to technological enhancements in modern cars, windscreen repair costs are on the rise. Where five years ago, the average cost to replace a windscreen was around $350, now, it's likely to cost between $430 to $470.  

A full windscreen replacement could cost up to $4000, he said.

"If you're covering it under your normal insurance and you have an excess of $400 or $500 [for example], it's about $80 to get a chip fixed.. a windscreen is around $400," Hobbs said

"But what we're seeing more and more of now is windscreens costing upwards $1000, $2000, $3000....the recalibration costs can extend up to $1000 as well (depending on make and model of vehicle)," Hobbs added.

Although main glass suppliers generally have replacement windscreens available, it's possible a replacement windscreen isn't available locally and needs to be ordered from overseas. 

"There is the occasional exception where dealerships do not have windscreens available locally and the time to procure overseas can be between six and 16 weeks, mainly as a result of global COVID-related supply chain issues," Hobbs added. 

Insurance Council of New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton, said under 'comprehensive' policies, windscreens (and all vehicle glass) are typically covered.

"Some insurers offer excess free glass cover, meaning if you have a broken windscreen or window glass, you won’t have to pay towards the cost of replacing it," Grafton said. 

"It pays to check your cover for glass, especially if you have third party cover (which doesn’t cover glass)." 

Kiwis could save time by inspecting their car for glass chips, and getting them fixed as soon as possible.

"This will save a heap of time compared to having a chip turn into a crack that might lead to a failed WOF, or a break which would then take longer to fix," Grafton added.

"Avoiding more full replacements this way helps keep the cost of motor insurance down for everybody."

In addition to checking for chips, car owners are advised to check for rust surrounding the windscreen, which may weaken it, or prevent it from being watertight.

If there are arc-shaped scratches on the glass, it may mean the windscreen wipers are pulling trapped dirt or sand across the glass, and need to be cleaned or replaced.

Vibrations caused by driving, hitting a pothole or slamming car doors will encourage a chip to expand. 

To avoid gravel flying up and hitting the windscreen, drivers are advised to reduce their speed on gravel roads and give the car in front more space.