With over 39 million vehicles on the road, there has never been such a high demand for skilled windscreen fitters. If you own or are just getting started as a windscreen repairer or windscreen replacement business, you will require motor trade insurance to give yourself protection should an unfortunate incident occur.
Your windscreen fitter business may involve either being a mobile service or having your own workshop where customers can bring their vehicles to you to be fixed. To choose the level of windscreen fitter insurance that is right for your business, you will require an experience motor trade insurance broker.
Tradex can tailor windscreen fitter insurance cover to meet your business needs and also takes into account any other work you may undertake within the motor trade, including mechanical and body repairs, as well as part time commitments.
Here is our guide to getting started as a window fitter and what qualifications, experience and motor trade insurance you will need to put in place.
What is a Windscreen Fitter?
A windscreen fitter or technician’s job is to replace and repair windscreens as well as side and rear vehicle windows. This will mean working on a wide range of vehicles including cars, vans and even heavy goods vehicles, buses or coaches. With the fast pace of vehicle technology, very few will have the same types of windscreens, therefore a good level of training is essential with experience of replacement instructions related to each vehicle.
Windscreen fitters may be based at a garage, specialist repair centre or have their own workshop within another business. Many may also operate a mobile company, travelling to people’s homes, offices or operating roadside. Mobile windscreen fitters will need a fully equipped van with everything they need to fix a variety of vehicles.
Almost all vehicles have windscreens made of laminated glass. This type of glass is made from two bent pieces of glass bonded with a plastic layer between to give strength against flying objects. The toughened glass is also an essential component for a vehicle’s structural strength, and therefore an important safety feature.
Typical window fitter work includes:
· Removing the trims and moulds from around the windows
· Removing any shattered, cracked or broken glass
· Selecting the correct size of windscreen to be fitted to the vehicle
· Ability to disable the electrics when necessary
· Fitting the glass based on the vehicle manufacturer's specifications
· Replacing all the removed parts
As a mobile technician, you may need to send a vehicle to a garage to be repaired undercover. Wet weather conditions can prevent some adhesives sticking properly, while some larger vehicles may need a specific size of glass that needs special cutting, or the removal process can be of greater difficulty than can be carried out roadside.
Not all windscreens will need replacing if they only have a tiny chip or crack. A windscreen fitter will be trained to assess the damage and if it can be repaired, will use a special resin as a filler. Once polished, the repair becomes almost invisible to the eye.
The work of a windscreen technician involves a high level of customer care together with rigorous health and safety standards. While a windscreen technician can work regular hours, some companies will also offer an emergency call-out service and this can be very lucrative for a mobile fitter who wants to earn additional money.
Rising Demand for Windscreen Services
As the number of vehicles on the road continues to increase, the demand for windscreen services has risen to keep pace with accidents and crimes. According to government figures, there are 39.2 million vehicles registered in the United Kingdom. With the growing rise of internet shopping and fast food deliveries, this figure looks set to rise steadily over the next decade. With this brings a steady demand for repair or replacement of broken glass.
Windscreens and other glass on a vehicle are at risk from damage through loose stones or chippings that fly up from tyres, potholes that cause cracks in windscreens as unsuspecting motorists bump over them at speed, general accidents.
Vehicle crime, particularly theft of, or from, cars and vans, is a major causes of broken vehicle glass. Although vehicle crime has fallen since its peak in 2006 when figures showed 180,000 (after which the Home Office stopped publishing the annual car theft index), it has been rising steadily with a confirmed 101,198 reported vehicle thefts in 2021. Added to this are the considerable number of broken side windows, which are smashed to steal valuables.
It was also not unusual in the past for inexperienced drivers to try and save money on their insurance policy by not adding windscreen cover to their policy. With a fully comprehensive policy now becoming a much more affordable choice, glass repair and replacement will often be included as part of the cover.
Opportunities for Windscreen Fitters
Whilst roadside assistance is one area that you could find work as a window fitter, there are plenty of other opportunities where you could be used for your expertise on a regular basis. These include:
· Car servicing workshops and repair garages
· Freight haulage companies
· Specialist glass fitters used by insurance companies
· Vehicle manufacturers
· Bus, train and coach companies
Why You Need Windscreen Fitter Insurance
As a mobile technician, you will spend many hours on the road as well as face the possibility of driving other people’s vehicles, even if just moving them. Legally you would need to have road risk cover as part of your motor trade insurance policy not only for your own vehicles but also those of your customers.
All windscreen fitters will need a satisfactory level of liability insurance to protect them when working with the public, as well as insurance for any employees you may have within your company.
Whilst only employers’ liability is a legal requirement, if a customer were to be injured as a result of your work, they may sue you for damages to cover areas such as medical treatment or care and loss of earnings. Public liability insurance as part of your motor trade insurance or windscreen fitter insurance policy will allow you to make a claim towards covering the amount you were being sued for and the legal expenses.
You will need employers’ liability insurance even if you have part-time or casual employees. If one of your employees were injured whilst replacing or repairing a car windscreen, they may decide to sue you to compensate for any medical expenses or loss off wages due to being unable to work. A good liability policy will meet the amount of the claim and legal expenses.
As part of your motor trade insurance policy, you may also need cover for your tools and equipment either when providing a mobile service or on-site in a garage or workshop. In addition, you may also want to look at insuring the buildings, any stock you keep on your premises, cash and office equipment.
The Right Windscreen Fitter Insurance
If you are involved in fitting windscreens or window tinting, it is becoming increasingly important that you have the right motor trade insurance in place suit all aspects of your business. This will begin with road risks insurance and additional insurance will depend on the size and scope of your company.
Combined motor trade insurance is generally recommended, where it is possible to select the additional cover under the same policy. Make sure you discuss and compare policies with experienced motor trade insurance underwriters such as Tradex to avoid any unwanted expense. We understand that no two motor traders are the same, and therefore will need a policy specifically designed for you.
Road risk insurance
Although the role of windscreen fitter does not involve you test driving a customer’s vehicle, you will often need to move a customer’s vehicle whether to a place of safety roadside or within your workshop. Road risk insurance enables you to be covered to drive any vehicle , both your customers and your own business transport.
Road risk insurance, like private insurance, comes with three levels: third party, third party fire and theft as well as fully comprehensive. You will need a comprehensive policy if you are to avoid being left out of pocket with at fault claims. Unless you have a comprehensive policy, the vehicle you are driving will not be covered should you be involved in an accident that is deemed your fault.
A road risk insurance policy should be specifically tailored to ensure that you have reasonable cover in place to protect all vehicles owned by the policyholder and all vehicles in their custody or control. Your customers will need to be re-assured that you are fully protected against all eventualities if they are going to trust you with their vehicle.
Combined motor trade insurance
Whilst appropriate road risk insurance cover is essential for all motor trade businesses, a combined motor trade insurance policy will give cover to specific areas of your business all under a single policy. This makes it easier for you to focus on your business without having to get bogged down with the administration involved in holding a variety of different business insurances.
A combined policy also makes it easier and more convenient when taking on employees, helps customers to feel reassured they will be provided for should an accident occur either to themselves or their vehicle, and provide financial help should your business suffer any damage or legal claims.
Cover available within a combined motor trade windscreen fitter insurance policy includes:
· Road Risk as third party, third party fire and theft or fully comprehensive
· Material damage to buildings through fire, water damage or storm damage
· Protection for both the company’s vehicles and customer vehicles whilst on the trade premises
· Protection for all machinery including fixed and mobile on the premises
· Stock cover (windscreens, windows and parts)
· Office equipment including computers, furniture, mobile phones and printers
· On-site cash left overnight
· Business Interruption insurance should you not be able to operate your business due to unforeseen circumstances such as fire, theft, water damage or illness
· Mobile mechanics can be covered for theft of tools from their van often with quick pay-outs or replacement to prevent any loss of earnings
Another area that is equally important whether you are a new motor trade business or already established is liability insurance. Without it, you could leave yourself open to claims of thousands of pounds and lose your established business in the process.
· Employers liability. This is a legal requirement if you employ any staff including part-time or casual. Failure to have the correct employers’ liability insurance in place could leave you facing fines of up to £2,500 per day until the correct policy is put in place. In addition, you can be fined £1,000 if you do not display your Employers’ liability certificate or refuse to hand it over to inspectors when they ask. It also leaves you open to expensive legal and liability fees should an employee take you to court over an accident whilst at work.
· Public liability: This protects you for any legal costs should you be sued for an accident happening to a member of the public either on your premises or where you are working. This could include someone tripping over equipment while you work roadside, injuring themselves, or an accident whilst visiting your business premises. Even though you follow all the right health and safety procedures, accidents do still happen so it is best to be prepared with the right liability insurance.
· Service indemnity or product liability insurance: You and your employees may be highly trained and expert at their jobs, but sometimes things can go wrong, whether that is incorrect information given to a customer, a repair that wasn’t quite right for whatever reason or a faulty windscreen or product from the manufacturer. Service indemnity insurance will make sure whatever the problem may be, you will be covered if a customer or their vehicle is injured or damaged by something that was done mistakenly or out of your control. It is often low down on the list of cover taken out when money is tight, but accidents or mishaps can happen to the best of us and a bit of incorrect information could be very costly to your business.
At Tradex, we try to help those new to the business or starting out from their apprenticeships find motor trade insurance that is within their reach. We offer a special bonus booster to help those with no bonus to accrue a year’s no claims discount on a six-month policy when used on a later full-term policy. Tradex also supports those who work full-time or part-time and can combine insurance for those who may have more than one job within the motor trade.
Windscreen Fitter Training
There are no set entry requirements for windscreen technicians or fitters. Many will enter the profession as an apprentice. If you do undergo an apprenticeship, it is preferred you have some GCSEs, particularly in English and maths, or the equivalent vocational qualifications.
You will also need practical skills, time management skills, the ability to build trust and provide a friendly and efficient service with your customers. You will also be expected to work flexibly as there is a likely to be shift work over weekends and evenings, with 24-hour emergency cover offered as standard.
Apprentices generally combine practical on-the-job training in the workplace with part-time attendance at college, working towards NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in automotive glazing technician, vehicle accident repair or vehicle repair and technology.
Candidates looking to undertake an automotive glazing technician qualification will generally include those:
· Already working in a fitting centre or on site
· Working with standard vehicles and as well as those with non-routine fitments
· Removing, replacing and repairing other standard automotive glazing components
· Able to use initiative to identify and suggest improvements to work procedures
· Job titles could include automotive glazing technician, windscreen fitter and automotive glazier
It is also possible to train as a windscreen fitter though having worked in other areas of motor trade employment, branching out into new areas of expertise. This is dependent on there being someone within the company who can train you but may give you an area in which to grow your skills and offer another area of expertise to the company.
Growing your Business
Windscreen repair in addition to replacement is a growing market and should be offered as part of any window fitters offerings. Laminated windows can often undergo minor chips and cracks without shattering. It is always worthwhile customers getting these repaired especially as cracks and chips can become larger during extreme cold or direct sunlight and could have structural damage. They can also result in a vehicle failing its MOT.
Keeping updated with the latest technology in windscreen repair and replacement could help to put you ahead of the competition. Whilst replacing a windscreen used to a fairly straightforward job using a rubber sealing strip, most newer vehicles have windscreens that are bonded in place, thus doing away with the strip.
With this innovative technology comes a more complex system where the correct fitting is essential both to prevent water seeping in as well as for the sturdiness of the vehicle itself. An incorrectly fitted windscreen could affect a car’s rigidity to the point that the activation of the airbags might be affected in an accident.
Some new windscreens have automatic rain sensors, heating elements, embedded antennas, together with special coatings and laminations. With the latest technology also comes a wider variety of shapes and designs, meaning a higher cost for the glass and more complex to fit. With the right training, focussing on more complex windscreens could give you a wider customer base.
Another popular service is the fitting of a special film to the inside of vehicle windows, namely tinted film and security film (some types will even do both). Tinted film helps to improve security and privacy or enhance a vehicle’s appearance.
Security film strengthens a vehicle’s window, holding together the pieces of broken glass should the window be smashed. This helps to prevent break-ins and can deter would-be thieves. This may be a profitable source of additional work to expand from windscreen repair or replacement services.
Staying Ahead of the Competition
If you are just setting out on your windscreen fitting business, or are looking to expand, both require knowledge of surrounding businesses and the services they offer. There are already several large chains of windscreen specialists with branches across the country that offer reasonable rates and generally a 24-hour emergency call out service. Offering a competitive service will not be without its challenges. It will be worthwhile considering some of the following:
· The range of services you will need to offer to make your business profitable. This could include offering repairs on top of replacement, offering a windscreen repair and replacement service at someone’s home or office rather than just at a workshop or roadside and by offering a 24 hour emergency call out service.
· Offering a more specialist service such as a focus on supplying glass for agricultural vehicles, buses and coaches, lorries or trains. Tinted or security film fittings can also be a lucrative business and are growing in demand.
· Keep up with all the latest technology and developments to maximise business, whether that is joining a trade association for news on the latest information and training or looking out for publications such as trade journals to keep up with industry issues.
Whether you are looking for support for your mobile windscreen business or at a premises or workshop, Tradex can tailor a policy to suit your business whether part-time or full-time. It will also cover those undertaking mechanical and body repairs.