A rock hits your windshield. And then you see it. The small divot where the rock struck. Radiating out from the divot are two or three lines where the glass has cracked. But the cracks are small and the divot is hardly noticeable. Weeks go by. You maybe forget about it completely.
And then, the seasons change, and one morning you get in the car only to find that the once-small cracks have begun their slow crawl across the windshield. Week after week, the lines grow until it reaches a point where it is no longer avoidable: you must get your windshield replaced. Fortunately, your insurance claims to cover windshield damage. You call a windshield repair shop, you drop the car off, they have you sign paperwork, you pick it up later with a brand-new windshield and no money owed. Seems too easy? It may be exactly that.
In some states, windshield repair shops require anyone seeking payment for the windshield from the insurance company to assign their rights to payment for the windshield to the installer. Normally, this is not a problem. The installer files the claim for payment against the insurance company, and the company pays.
When the company declines to pay, problems arise. Since you have assigned your rights under the insurance policy to the installer, they stand in your shoes, meaning that they can try and force the insurance company to pay by filing a lawsuit. In Tampa, many do exactly that. In fact, this practice has grown drastically in the Tampa area over the last few years. The most concerning thing for the vehicle owner is that their name is now attached to a lawsuit against their insurance company for something they very likely were not aware of.
Most people, if given the option of suing their insurance company or paying for the windshield and then filing for insurance coverage would probably pick the latter. Never assign your rights to insurance coverage without consulting an attorney or insurance agent. Additionally, if the windshield damage was the result of an accident or the fault of someone else, it may not be your insurance company’s job to cover the damage. Claims on your insurance can cause your premiums to increase as well, so be sure that filing a claim is the best way to go.
Lawrence Disparti is an attorney concentrated in Personal Injury, Auto Accidents, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and Social Security Disability. He has locations in Florida, Illinois and California and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.