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Having tinted windows on your car will not generally cause your car insurance rates to increase. However, there may be a question as to whether your insurance company will replace the tinting as well as the window, if there is an accident. Part of the answer to that question lies in whether the tinting was part of the original equipment on the car or whether it was added as an after-market option. The second, more critical issue is whether the tinting conforms to local or state laws.
Why window tinting?
The major reason for tinted windows is to reduce road glare and the effects of the sun on the driver and passengers of a motor vehicle. Tinting is most common in the parts of the United States that have the most sunshine, in states such as California, Florida, Arizona and New Mexico.
Window tinting is especially popular among younger drivers and has become an issue of both privacy and vanity. Youthful drivers and vehicle owners may be tempted to push the boundaries of local laws, tinting their car windows beyond reasonable local limits.
Do laws vary widely from state to state as to what is considered allowable window tinting?
Yes! Each state has published laws in this regard. Websites like TintCenter.com provide details about window tinting requirements in all 50 states, along with helpful tips and information about other applications such as tinting home windows.
If the level of window tinting is considered unlawful in your state or jurisdiction, increased premiums may not be your only worry or concern. Alterations made to your vehicle in violation of local law could void your insurance policy.
You could be held personally liable for damages, medical expenses and other losses due to an accident if it’s determined that illegal tinting, that was not reported to your company, was a direct cause or contributing factor to the accident.
In addition to insurance concerns, many states will stop a vehicle and issue the driver a citation or traffic ticket for windows that are too dark or in some other way violate local standards. If the tinting itself does not trigger higher insurance rates, traffic violations certainly will.
After being cited, the courts may require you to have the tinting material removed or to replace the offending windows altogether, at your expense, in addition to whatever the fines, attorney’s fees and other costs amount to.
Should I report window tinting or other changes to my insurance company?
As a rule of thumb, any improvements or changes made to a motor vehicle should be reported to the insurance company. Some additions or changes may increase your rates and others may actually serve to reduce your auto premiums.
What if I choose not to report window tinting to my insurance carrier?
You may be putting yourself at risk for what is usually considered a minor dollar figure. Window tinting on average will only cost one to two hundred dollars. Coverage that will replace the broken window and the tinting would only be a fraction of that cost.
Again, the question remains, will your company fully cover the damage to your vehicle if you are involved in an accident? Following a serious accident, insurance companies have the option to increase your rates or even deny you coverage. This is especially true if it were discovered that an unauthorized change to a vehicle was a contributory cause to an accident.
What kinds of changes should I report to my car insurance company?
Anytime you make a cosmetic or performance change to your vehicle it’s worth calling your car insurance agent to discuss. Obviously anew air freshener does not fall in this category but you want to make sure you are in compliance with the terms of your car insurance policy.
Window tinting falls into the category of cosmetic alterations; changes that are made primarily to enhance an automobile’s curb appeal. These kinds of changes appeal to individual owners’ tastes and personal preferences. Other examples of cosmetic changes include custom wheels or hubcaps, special paint, striping and other decals, fancy ornamentation, special exterior lighting, etc. There are also changes or modifications that can be made to enhance your vehicle’s value or provide increased utility such as adding:
- Custom shocks or suspension
- A trailer hitch, bed liner or cap on a light truck
- A moon roof or sunroof
- An enhanced sound or video system
- A remote starter or locking system
- A GPS or other computerized system
Other vehicle alterations are solely designed to improve performance or increase speed, such as a turbocharger, racing tires and more. Always remember when you initially purchased car insurance the provider to only insure the car described at that time. Any unreported change in the vehicle’s looks or performance can possibly be grounds for denial of a claim.