Shattered Windshield…Vandalism or Freak Accident?


The moment when…you are leaving your kid’s school at 10:00 am after attending his preschool graduation.  You put your younger child in his carseat, get all the stuff in the car (including the felt graduation cap with the older child’s name written in glitter, so precious), and settle yourself into the driver’s seat.  You are feeling happy, your kids both behaved themselves pretty well during the ceremony, you got some cute pics, life is good.  You put the key in the ignition and check the rearview mirror just as you were taught in driver’s ed.  many, many years ago.  We won’t talk about how many 🙂  Everything looks good except the big shard of glass hanging in the frame where the rear windshield used to be, and the fact that the rear windshield is basically gone.  Wait a minute…the rear windshield of the van is freakin’ GONE!

Yup, this happened to me on Friday.  I got out of the car and realized the back cargo area was full of tiny pieces of broken glass, as well as around the back of the van (safety glass is made to break into a zillion, non-sharp pieces, thank God).  I couldn’t see any rocks, or balls inside the car that could explain how the window broke.  I got my son back out of the car and went to the office to let them know and they called the police so we could fill out a report.  We pulled my older son off the bus since I probably wouldn’t have made it home before him.

The cop showed up right away, and the custodian came and helped get rid of the glass that was around the van.  She agreed that she couldn’t see anything in or around the van that could explain the break, and when she questioned the aides that had been doing recess duty on the playground they hadn’t seen anything unusual.  She helped break the rest of the window out so pieces wouldn’t be falling off as I drove home.  Since we couldn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing, the case would be closed unless we found anything.  The idea of the car getting so hot the window broke was thrown out as a possible cause since it was only about 76 degrees out.  She gave me her card in case we needed to get in touch.  A couple of the aides from the school came out to make sure we were okay and to offer help.  They helped keep the kiddos entertained while I was on the phone with the insurance company.

I have USAA, the best bank/ insurance ever, so they were able to help me schedule an appointment for the window to be fixed at our home the next day.  When the guy came to fix it, I asked him if this type of thing happened often where there isn’t an obvious cause like a rock being thrown or something hitting the window.  He said especially in windows that have a rear defrost heating element (mine does), it’s more common than you think!  I was floored!  He says that if the sun hits the heating element just right, it can heat the glass enough to make it shatter, especially if there is a preexisting crack (mine didn’t have one).  I couldn’t believe it!

I can’t believe that a window would just explode on a day that wasn’t even 80 degrees!  But it seemed just as likely as somebody coming up and breaking it with a bat or something and going completely unnoticed in a busy school parking lot in the middle of the day.  Will I ever now for sure if it was vandalism or a freak accident?  Maybe not.

What do I know for sure?  That I shouldn’t have raised our glass replacement deductible to $1,000 a few years ago once we got an established emergency fund, thinking what are the chances anything would happen to our van’s windows?  🙂

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