Having a cracked windshield is never a happy situation, but it is even worse when it happens on a rental car. Liability quickly becomes a hot topic as dollar signs plaster the forefront of your mind. The determining factor behind who is liable boils down to your insurance coverage and whether you declined any additional coverage when you signed that mortgage-sized rental agreement.
If you’re using the insurance for your own personal vehicle to cover the rental and it includes comprehensive or glass, then chances are that your insurance will cover the cost to replace the windshield. This is where things weigh heavily on the actual cost of replacing the windshield in comparison to your deductible for a glass claim. In some cases, it is simply cheaper to pay out of pocket and leave the insurance company out of it altogether, as you're responsible to pay the entire deductible before insurance kicks in. If you’ve declined all waivers offered by the rental company, but glass isn’t covered on your personal policy, then liability falls on you to pony up for the cost of a new windshield.
Most insurance companies will cover rentals up to the value of your personal vehicle. If you rent a luxury vehicle, but own an economy car, you may be liable for a portion of the repair even after the deductible has been paid.
When you filled out the rental agreement, you were offered several types of insurance, or waivers. If you agreed to pay the additional daily fee for the loss-damage waiver, then in most cases, you are free of liability for any damage to the vehicle -- assuming you haven’t violated any portion of the rental agreement during the time the vehicle was in your possession.
What to Do
Contact the rental company and let it know about the cracked windshield. If you used your personal insurance to cover the rental, the rental company may contact your insurance company for you. If it does not, you’ll be responsible for contacting the insurance company and filing the claim. Do not take the vehicle to be repaired without talking to the rental company first. The rental company, even if it is liable, may not reimburse you for replacing the glass. Always follow the rental company's procedures if damage has occurred to its property.
According to Insure.com, some credit card companies also offer protection when you use their credit card to pay for your rental. If glass isn't covered by your personal or rental insurance, check with your credit card company to see if it covers replacement glass.