Does Homeowners Insurance Pay to Replace Broken Windows?

by Wilhelm Schnotz

    If you own a home, there’s a good chance that someday you’ll need to replace a broken window. This is a relatively common repair, but replacing a broken window pane can be pricey, particularly if it’s a large picture window. Because of this, many homeowners consider making a claim against their homeowners insurance policy to cover window replacement costs.

    Cause of Damage

    Your insurance policy only provides coverage in qualifying situations, and the manner in which the window broke may affect your ability to make a claim. Open-peril policies provide coverage for any cause not specifically excluded from the policy, while named-risk policies only provide coverage for causes listed in your policy. For example, if your window broke in a hailstorm, it’ll be covered by both types of policies. If it broke when you knocked over a ladder that fell through the window, the typical named-risk policy probably won’t cover you because it doesn’t specifically cover accidents.

    Deductible

    Even if the cause of the broken window falls under the coverage of your homeowners insurance, you may not be able to make a claim. Because you’re on the hook for the amount of your deductible, you can always count on paying out of pocket for some repairs. If you have a high-deductible policy to lower your premiums and the cost of replacing the window is relatively low, the amount of the replacement may not exceed your deductible. Whether or not your policy covers the damage is moot in this case.

    Wear and Tear

    All homeowners policies exclude coverage for standard wear and tear, because maintaining your home is your responsibility. While this may seem straightforward, it may affect the way your insurer views your claim. For example, if your window breaks during a storm because a branch blew into it, you’ll be covered. If it breaks because water seeped in through unmaintained seals and expanded as it froze, cracking the pane, your insurer will cite wear and tear -- and your lack of maintenance -- as cause of the broken window, not the weather event that triggered it.

    Impact of Claims

    The administrative costs necessary to process a claim are largely the same whether you’re making a claim following a major catastrophe, such as a fire, or a small one, such as a broken window. Although your insurance company is obligated to process small claims if they fall under your policy guidelines, a string of many small claims is costly to your insurance provider because of the administrative costs, and it can trigger rate increases.

    Photo Credits

    • Dick Luria/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.

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