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Seeing the Benefit

Ron Wayne

SOMETIMES, I’M embarrassed to live in Florida.

Late-night talk show hosts have plenty of fodder for their jokes given the behavior of residents, visitors and our politicians. Fortunately, I don’t know anyone who fits the stereotype of “Florida Man,” but such folks clearly exist, or so these memes suggest.

We also endure hurricanes, scorching summers, soaring homeowner’s insurance rates and all kinds of odd creatures, from the native alligator to invasive species such as the green iguana and the giant African snail.

On the other hand, there’s no state income tax. We also have another advantage that I just learned is rare among the 50 states: free front windshield repair. In Florida, if you carry comprehensive coverage as part of your auto policy, your insurance must pay for a new windshield, with no deductible required.

When I was returning recently from seeing my daughter and her husband in Orlando, a stone hit the far righthand side of my windshield, which wasn’t surprising given the amount of road construction in and around Orlando. It was night, so I didn’t notice the crack until the next day, when I went to wash my car. This had happened to me once before with my previous car, and I recall being pleased I didn’t have to pay anything toward the window’s replacement.

At first the crack was just the size of a spider. But it expanded horizontally across the window, almost reaching the center by the next morning. Clearly, it was a hazard. I called my agent with some trepidation, unsure whether the windshield repair law still existed. Thankfully, it does.

I was curious if other states had this benefit. According to this article, only two other states—South Carolina and Kentucky—also feel it’s a safety initiative important enough to justify this insurance requirement. Those two states apply the rule to all vehicular windshields, while Florida only includes the front.

Is the cost of this supposed freebie already reflected in our auto-insurance rates here in Florida? I’m not savvy about insurance matters, but it seems the insurers always have the upper hand. Still, on two occasions, it hasn’t felt that way to me.

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