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Check your windscreen as the temperature drops

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The temperature may be mild, but the coldest months of the year are ahead and drivers are being warned to check their windscreens ahead of any freeze.

Windscreens can crack in the extreme cold, warns financial information business Defaqto, and an existing chip is a major risk factor. Insurers vary in the way they treat windscreen repairs, and over 80% of third party fire and theft policies have no cover at all.

The group’s analysis of all 323 comprehensive motor insurance products available on the market showed nearly all (312) include windscreen cover as standard. However, some policies will apply an excess to a claim. For some, this can be as much as £50 for a repair or £150 for a full replacement.

41% of insurers apply some sort of excess to a repair claim. For 16% (52 out of 323), this is less than £15, with a further 9% (28 out of 323) applying an excess between £15 – £24.

However, more apply an excess charge for windscreen replacement: 19% of products applying an excess between £60 – £74, with a further 52% (169 out of 323) applying an excess between £75 – £99.

In all cases, drivers need to ensure they use the insurer’s approved windscreen provider. ‘Non-approved’ repairer can attract an excess of as much as £300.

Mike Powell, insight consultant at Defaqto said: “A small chip can turn into a nasty crack or even break your windscreen beyond repair if left. If you get a chip, you need to act fast to prevent the damage getting worse. Most insurers are happy to help you get your windscreen repaired to avoid the greater cost of having to replace it down the line. Check your policy to see what excess you may be liable for as this can be a nasty shock in some cases. Whatever happens, never pour boiling water on an icy windscreen as this can shatter it.” He says de-icer is best; failing that, rubbing alcohol mixed with water can work.

Defaqto’s tips to prolong the life of a windscreen:

1. Check your windscreen regularly for chips and cracks. A small nick may not be obvious but can quickly turn into a larger crack.
2. If you see a chip or crack, place clear tape over it to prevent dirt and debris getting into the crack and making it worse, until you can get it repaired. Do not put glue in the crack.
3. Act immediately. As soon as you spot a crack or chip in the windscreen, repair it. As long as your windscreen is chipped, it is weak and could break at any point. By acting quickly you can stop it getting worse and stay safe.
4. Contact your insurer to see if they have a windscreen repairer you can use. Small chips and cracks can often be repaired within a day or two, saving your windscreen from needing to be replaced.
5. Keep your distance and slow down. Chips and cracks are caused by stones and debris hitting the glass, which are often kicked up by the tyres of the vehicle in front of you.

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