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Insurers pushing bill cutting required auto glass coverage


Rock-shattered windshields are such a common occurrence on Arizona roads that insurance companies have long been required to replace broken glass for free to drivers with full coverage policies.

It ends up being a big expense to insurance companies that have to pay all the claims, and now they want to eliminate the requirement.

Legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Karen Fann of Prescott removes the decades-old requirement that insurers offer zero-deductible glass replacement. Instead, Senate Bill 1169 lets insurers charge a deductible for glass repair.

It is the latest effort by the insurance industry that targets auto glass repair companies. Auto glass replacement firms are everywhere in the state because of the high rate of breakage due to heat and rocks and guaranteed free replacement.

Arizona Auto Glass Association President Rex Altree said Monday that drivers will forego fixing cracked windshields that are safety hazard if the bill passes. He also says hundreds of companies could go out of business, and it could costs thousands of jobs.

Altree runs a Tempe-based auto glass replacement company, SafePro Auto Glass. He said the state’s extreme heat makes glass easier to crack or chip and that, combined with the prevalence of rocks in the desert landscape, leads to much of the breakage.

Altree said there’s more broken windshields in Arizona “because we live in an area where we rake our gravel and we don’t rake our grass.”

He called free replacement a convenience for consumers and also a safety issue. Driving with a broken or cracked windshield is illegal. And he said insurers can and many do charge extra premiums for the coverage.

“It’s just an offer, and we’re just asking them to continue offering it,” Altree said of insurance companies.

Fann said there’s too much fraud in the glass replacement industry, with small repairs being boosted to complete replacements and kickbacks being given to customers.

“The fraud statutes that are on the books do not even come close to dealing with the problems that we have with the auto glass industry,” Fann said Monday. “My bill is simply a pro-business bill, it is simply a fraud reduction bill.”

Lobbyist Marc Osborn, who represents several insurers and the industry group Property Casualty Insurance Association of America, said they’re pushing for the change because zero-deductible glass replacement has led to widespread overutilization and fraud. Signs that offer cash for windshield replacement are a common sight on Arizona roads, drawing complaints from insurance companies that unscrupulous companies are offering cash back to customers so they can submit overly-high bills.

And Osborn noted that the eight states that require zero-deductible glass replacement make up 88 percent of all glass claims nationwide.

“By kind of artificially mandating that you offer something, it has a corrupting influence on the utilization,” Osborne said. “It ends up costing all consumers more because the coverage will be inherently more expensive if you have this kind of rampant abuse and overutilization that is occurring.”

Consumers benefit from the plans because they don’t put off replacing broken windshields or lights with the coverage, glass company lobbyist Barry Aarons said. Insurers, he said, aren’t going out of business because of the coverage. He also said there’s plenty of anti-fraud laws already on the books if there really is a problem.

“The insurance companies are unhappy that they have to cover something, they’re unhappy that they have to pay out, and therefore they’re saying we’re going to just do away with it because it costs too much,” Aarons said. “So the question you have to ask yourself is, is the Legislature going to help the insurance companies save money, or is the Legislature going to help the public save money. And that’s what it really boils down to.”

The insurance industry tried and failed last year to get the Legislature to ban rebates to consumers from auto glass companies and put in place other new regulations.


  1. Why is it the priority of the AZ GOP led legislature to protect insurance companies at all costs?

  2. How about enforcing the Arizona state law that requires all vehicles to have mud flaps. Almost all of the chips and splits I have recieved in 40 years of driving Arizona highways and roads have come from the big pickups in front of me.

  3. How about enforcing the Arizona state law that requires all vehicles to have mud flaps. Almost all of the chips and splits I have received in 40 years of driving Arizona highways and roads have come from the big pickups in front of me that don’t have any flaps.

  4. I like the way you have expressed your views. With such great knowledge comes a great mind. It has always been great to read about this topic but your one was one of the best I have read till date.

  5. I second the comment about mudflaps. That would significantly reduce the number of cracked windshields we see. Start enforcing things that put a damper on the cause, and you’ll have a much greater effect.

  6. I am a registered Republican, but am getting very tired of our legislature looking out for big business rather than the taxpayers. Look at the side of the major freeways around the valley and what do you see? Gravel! Along with this, there are a ton of gravel hauling trucks with signs reading to the effect of, “…we cannot be held responsible for flying rocks…”, all the while failing to secure their loads correctly and flinging debris all over the road.
    Protect the insured, and if you are concerned about fraud then toughen those laws. But do not penalize those of us paying for coverage and then getting excessive claims letters because we are using what we are paying for.

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