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on sensors built into the vehicle’s glass.
There has also been an evolution of
more radical glass shapes with extreme
curves, all-glass tailgates, and double and
triple curvatures. As these enhancements
work their way into more automobiles,
they make vehicle glass more difficult to
replace when damaged.
All of these advances require the vehicle glass repair and replacement industry
to stay ahead of the game, and will require more specialized technicians, better
training, and advanced installation tools
and equipment. These changes may also
result in higher claims costs. Fortunately,
most windshield damage begins as a chip
and, if repaired quickly, will prevent a
more costly replacement. Repair systems
have improved vastly during the past decade, making repair a prudent alternative
to replacement when a crack is less than
six inches long.
Generating about 7. 5 million insurance claims per year, vehicle glass damage is the most frequent type of claim. Fortunately, the cost of repair is relatively low, and the opportunity to satisfy policyholders is high. For those reasons, it can be seen as the best type of claim for an insurer to encounter.
It is important to understand how the vehicle glass and automotive industries are
evolving and impacting future claims handling. Luckily, in this day and age, there is also
growing research about glass breakage. This research can help insurance carriers prepare
for these changes.
The first key automotive industry trend is placing more glass—and larger pieces of
glass—in every car. According to glass makers, the glazed area of a vehicle has increased
by 15 percent during the last decade. Some designs, such as panoramic roofs, are actually made of glass that blends right into the windshield. Obviously, the more glass in a
vehicle, the greater the likelihood of damage.
Secondly, with a recent focus on energy and gas efficiency, auto manufacturers have
made vehicles lighter in weight. As a result, vehicle glass is thinner than ever before—
again, increasing the chance for breakage.
Finally, as the automotive industry introduces technologies, there is an increase of
technically complex vehicle glass. For instance, more cars have sensors and heads-up
displays (HUD), which project vehicle data directly onto the windshield. Some of the
newest developments include driving-assistance devices, including lane deviation systems, night vision systems, collision avoidance, and smart cruise control, which may rely
Belron Technical, the research and
development arm of Belron, has learned
through its research how chips occur and
how they spread. One statistic Safelite
studies has revealed is that the majority
of stone damage is located in the bottom
half of the windshield. Ironically, this area
is most vulnerable to outside forces, and
a chip here can easily turn into a much
Swift temperature change is a frequent
cause of a chip “running” and becoming
a crack—actions such as using the windshield defroster in cold weather or the air
conditioner in hot weather contribute to
this. Extreme temperatures outdoors can
also cause chips to run.
Finally, everyday driving produces
stress. Damaged glass is approximately
60- to 70-percent weaker than glass that
is still intact, making driving over pot
holes and speed bumps even more hazardous. All of these stresses are cumulative, so it is a sure bet that your chipped
windshield, if untreated, will crack out
A two-day testing series of 60 windshields by Belron Technical showed that
under high stresses, 90 percent of unrepaired chips cracked out within minutes, while repaired chips had a zero