You Smashed A Window To Rescue A Hot Pet – Now What?

Summer's rise in temperatures in many parts of the country can also raise the risk of pets inadvertently becoming trapped in a hot vehicle. You may be dismayed to witness a distressed pet in the front seat of a vehicle parked at the grocery store or shopping mall. In other cases, the trapped pet may be your own -- whether an excitedly jumping dog who steps on the door lock button before you can retrieve your keys or a cat who stows away unseen during your morning commute to work. If you're without keys or another means of access to a hyperthermic pet, breaking a window may be your least destructive option in a life or death situation. What are your responsibilities after this event has taken place, and how much will you pay to replace the window you've broken? Read on to learn more about the aftermath of saving a pet from an unpleasant outcome. 

What are your responsibilities if you've broken the window of a vehicle you don't own?

If you were faced with a life-or-death decision regarding a stranger's pet and chose to break a side window for access, you're legally responsible for the cost of any repairs to the vehicle. While some grateful pet owners may opt to pay for these repairs themselves rather than saddle you with a bill for saving their pet's life, they're not obligated to do so and may even prevail in a civil lawsuit if you refuse to compensate them for the damage you caused.

You may be able to turn in this claim to your own homeowners insurance company if you have liability coverage that extends to damage to others' property. Your insurance policy will then compensate the owner and pay for any needed repairs after your deductible. In some cases, your insurance may even pay for a rental car if required in order to ensure the pet owner's vehicle can be repaired as quickly as possible. However, you'll be required to pay any applicable deductible before insurance coverage kicks in, and your own policy premium may increase because of this claim. 

What steps should you take to replace or repair your own broken side window? 

When the window you've broken is your own, you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to repairs -- at least when it comes to submitting the claim to your insurance company. Often, unless you have no auto glass deductible (or a very low deductible), it's more cost-effective to pay for these repairs out of pocket. If you're replacing a typical side window, you'll only pay $100 to $350 or so (depending upon your make and model of vehicle). Replacing the windshield poses a similar cost, at $100 to $400 for most makes and models. While paying to repair something you've broken yourself can be frustrating, you'll usually find that such costs are well worth a pet's life.

If you'd like to save more money, you can choose to bypass labor costs by ordering and installing a replacement side window yourself or even going to a "pick and pull" scrapyard to find a used window that will fit your vehicle. While replacing a window isn't necessarily a difficult process and instructional videos on this topic abound for nearly all makes and models of vehicles, it may involve some minor electrical work for those who have power windows and door locks. If you're not comfortable with the idea of disconnecting and reconnecting the wires that control your door locks and power windows (or aren't sure they'll ever work again after you've fiddled with them), you'll want to enlist some professional help from an auto glass repair company like Becky's Glass Works.