A new ICBC program means that many windshields will be repaired rather than replaced

A new ICBC program means that many windshields will be repaired rather than replaced

New plan aims to repair windshield rock chips, not replace windshields

ICBC customers can, if it is deemed safe, have rock chips repaired at no cost.

Starting this week, customers who purchase ICBC’s optional comprehensive coverage for their private passenger vehicles will be able to get a chipped windshield repaired for free, as long as an ICBC-accredited Glass Express facility technician deems it safe and appropriate to do so.

The move will benefit more than 2.5 million drivers, and it is estimated that it will reduce ICBC’s material damage costs by up to $8 million per year.

“Replacing a windshield costs from $400 to $500 and up,” says Roy Tarcea, a national technician trainer for Belron Canada, which owns Speedy Glass. He adds that the cost can be much higher with today’s technology.

“You have forward-facing cameras, GPS, rain-sensing technology on the inside of the glass so it’s not exposed. You’re not just replacing the glass, but dealing with all these components as well. It’s not cheap. The windshield is a structural component of a car now.”

Having a chip filled with acrylic is much less expensive, averaging $75 to $80 around the province. Tarcea notes that it also saves time: generally, a fill can be done in 30 to 60 minutes, whereas a windshield replacement can take several hours depending on the vehicle.

The new ICBC program means that drivers getting a chip filled, rather than a windshield replaced, can go directly to a Glass Express facility without calling ICBC first or paying a deductible. The repairs will also have no effect on a customer’s claims history or future deductibles.

Tarcea advises drivers who get a chip on their windshield to take it to an accredited repair shop as quickly as possible, so the chip can be assessed and dealt with before it spreads or becomes contaminated by various elements.

“Sand, salt, water: they’ll contaminate the damage. Even if it’s a small chip, it’s broken glass, and it’s vulnerable to hot and cold. Windshields are made up of two layers of glass with a layer of vinyl in between, and they all contract and expand at different rates, which can make the damage spread. Technicians can try to remove the contamination, clean and evacuate any elements.”

He cautions, however, that not all windshield chips can be treated with filling, and that a technician needs to assess the damage.

“If the chip is in an acute visual area, such as right in front of the driver, we would probably advise windshield replacement,” says Tarcea. “Or if the chip is in front of a forward-facing camera, we would not repair it. Technology can’t do its job if there’s a chip or blemish right in front of it. It affects the car’s computer, which can’t function properly.

“It’s better to try to repair first, and replace when necessary. It’s more economical, more clean and straightforward. I think it’s a win-win for everyone going forward.”