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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Broken Windows?

Yes, homeowners insurance will cover broken windows in certain circumstances, depending on what caused the damage. Three types of homeowners coverage can pay for window damage: 

  • Dwelling coverage
  • Other structures coverage
  • Liability coverage

The specific situation and the window’s location determine which coverage types apply when seeking reimbursement for a broken window. The cause of the broken window — and whether or not your policy covers that type of damage — will determine if your insurance will cover the costs.

How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Broken Windows?

Homeowners policies fall into two categories: open peril and named peril. With an open peril policy, your insurance should cover window damage caused by any peril not explicitly excluded in the policy. On the other hand, a named peril policy will cover damage caused by any peril expressly named by the policy.

Covered perils usually include damage caused by the following:

  • Motor vehicles
  • Extreme weather
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Falling objects

So, if someone damages your home’s window in an attempt to break in or hail smashes your window, you’re likely to be covered. 

Read on to learn how different types of homeowners coverage apply to different types of window damage.

Dwelling Coverage

Dwelling insurance, which insurance companies often call Coverage A, helps pay for damage to your home’s physical structure if the damage occurred due to a covered peril. If a covered event damages a window that’s located on your home’s structure, your policy’s dwelling coverage should kick in to help pay for repairs.

Other Structures Coverage

Other structures coverage, commonly referred to as Coverage B, helps pay for damage to structures on your property that are not attached to your home. As with dwelling coverage, the damage must have been caused by a covered peril. Other structures coverage usually covers the same perils as dwelling coverage.

Say a window on your storage shed, granny unit, or garage sustains damage due to a covered peril. That’s where other structures coverage comes in. If a falling tree branch breaks a window on your garage, it’s time to apply your other structures policy. And if your storage shed’s window experiences water damage after a big storm, it’s other structures to the rescue.

Liability Coverage

Homeowners liability insurance, or Coverage E, applies when the policyholder, one of their family members, or their pet causes damage to someone else’s property. This type of coverage is important when your broken window is someone else’s fault — or, for that matter, when someone else’s broken window is your fault.

If the next-door neighbor decides to work on his golf swing and your kitchen window pays the price, your neighbor’s liability insurance can help cover a repair or replacement. Likewise, if some pick-up basketball in your driveway turns into a broken window on the neighbor’s garage, your liability coverage can pay for the damage.

Situations When Homeowners Insurance Covers Broken Windows

Every homeowners insurance policy covers a specific set of perils, and while details vary among plans, certain perils are covered by most policies. See the below list for commonly covered perils.

  • Hail: These chunks of ice can cause serious damage to windows. 
  • Fire: The heat from a fire can cause the glass in your window pane to expand until it cracks or breaks.
  • Wind: High-speed winds have been known to break windows due to the sheer force of the air.
  • Theft: Windows are often a common entry point for thieves. Thankfully, damage from break-ins is usually covered. 
  • Vandalism: Someone might vandalize your home by throwing an object at your window, thereby breaking it.

Coverage Limitations 

Make sure to read your policy’s fine print before pursuing a claim. Most homeowners insurance policies will not cover the following types of window damage: 

  • Intentional Break: If you lock yourself out and have to put a rock through your own window to get back in, do not expect your policy to cover the damage.
  • Wear and Tear: If you neglect to maintain your windows and they decay, your policy may categorize it as negligence and deny coverage, even if a covered peril like a storm caused the decay.
  • Earthquake: An earthquake can shake or twist your home’s structure, potentially breaking windows. However, standard homeowners insurance rarely covers earthquake damage.
  • Flood: If your window sustains water damage due to flooding, do not expect your homeowners policy to cover it; most homeowners insurance policies do not pay for flood damage.

If you live in an area that commonly sees earthquakes or floods, it may be worth adding a special endorsement to your policy to provide additional coverage. Special endorsements, such as earthquake insurance or flood insurance, are riders you can add to your insurance policy for additional coverage. Discuss your endorsement options with your insurance agent. 

How to File a Claim for a Broken Window

Notify your insurer immediately upon discovering the cracked or broken window. Then, walk through the following steps.

  1. Document the damage. Take photos of the window damage. Clearly capture every part of the window that requires repairs or replacement. Detailed documentation can speed up the claims process.
  2. Review your policy. Ensure your policy covers the peril involved with your window damage. Also, note your policy’s deductible; it only makes sense to file a claim if the repair costs would exceed your policy’s remaining deductible.
  3. Provide necessary information to your insurer. If possible, speak directly with an insurance agent to ensure you’ve provided all of the necessary information to make a successful claim.
  4. Obtain repair estimates. Your insurance representative may be able to estimate the cost of repairs for you. You can also gather quotes from local contractors. Use these figures to determine whether to proceed with the claim based on your policy’s deductible.
  5. Follow the claims process. Depending on your provider and your preference, you might file a claim through your insurer’s app, through an agent, or over the phone.
  6. Review the settlement offer. When your insurer approves your claim, they will provide you with a settlement offer.
  7. Accept or appeal the offer. If the settlement offer does not meet your needs, you may dispute it, though this process can be lengthy. If you accept it, you cannot return to your insurer later to ask for more money on the same claim.

Remember, if your policy’s deductible exceeds the estimated cost of repair, reconsider proceeding with the claim. Filing a homeowners insurance claim can increase your premium, potentially costing you more money in the long run if your deductible offsets the claim’s settlement.

Tips to Prevent Window Damage and Subsequent Claims

To avoid future insurance claims and damage to your windows, make sure to do the following.

  • Conduct regular window inspections. Maintain your windows to keep them leak- and weather-resistant and avoid potential water damage.
  • Reinforce vulnerable windows. Films, security bars, and other reinforcement methods can secure your windows and protect your home from break-ins.
  • Trim nearby trees and foliage. A falling branch can do some serious window damage, so keep the trees on your property in check.
  • Secure window openings during severe weather. Consider weather-stripping your windows to prevent water damage following floods or storms.
  • Use window screens. Screens help keep out debris, insects, and other materials that can cause wear and tear on a window.
  • Educate children about window safety. Make sure your kids know the safest areas to practice free throws and pitching strikes.
  • Install window sensors or alarms. These security measures can help prevent theft and vandalism.

Putting It Together

Homeowners insurance covers many types of window damage, including cracks and breaks due to severe weather events, theft, and vandalism. However, not all causes of damage are covered. Repairs due to floods, earthquakes, intentional breaks, and unhappy accidents may come out of your pocket. Review your homeowners policy to confirm what it covers and what it does not.

To avoid future insurance claims and window damage, take the necessary precautions to secure your windows from inclement weather and potential break-ins.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, your insurer may raise your premium after settling a claim for window damage. Weigh the potential costs and benefits before filing a claim.

Your neighbor’s homeowners liability insurance should pay for damage to your property. If your neighbor does not have liability coverage, they must still pay for the necessary repairs or replacements.

A standard homeowners insurance policy may not offer enough protection for high-value homes, including those with valuable windows. These property owners may benefit from purchasing high-value home insurance.

Yes, if the damage was due to a covered peril, your insurance policy should help cover repairs to your window frames or treatments. Window frames should be covered under dwelling insurance. Window treatments may be covered by personal property insurance.