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.
Depending on the situation in which the window broke, a homeowners insurance policy may pay for a replacement.
Cause of Damage
Your insurance policy only provides coverage in qualifying situations, so the manner in which the window broke can affect your ability to make a claim. You can choose between open-peril or named-peril policies. Because a named-peril policy covers losses by perils that are specifically listed in the policy, you could find yourself uncovered. An open-peril policy, on the other hand, covers damage caused by many different types of risk to the insured property, so you're more likely to be covered, unless your policy specifically excludes the cause of damage.
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.
Paying the Deductible
Even if the cause of the broken window falls under the coverage of your homeowners insurance, you might 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 might not exceed your deductible. Whether or not your policy covers the damage is moot in this case.
Normal 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 can 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 the cause of the broken window, not the weather event that triggered it.
Implications of Making 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.
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.