The warning comes from the UK’s biggest glass repair and replacement firm, Autoglass, which has launched a series of six-monthly reports on the growing complexity of vehicle glass.
It is calling for prompt action from fleets to repair chipped windscreens before they deteriorate and need to be replaced.
Glass costs account for a third of all claims made by motorists and Autoglass forecasts suggest one in three windscreen replacements will require enhanced glass by 2007, from one in five in 2005 and one in 10 in 1999.
The latest windscreens can incorporate rain sensors, wire- heated or heat-coated screens, radiation-reducing solar control, head-up displays and satellite-navigation components.
These factors have pushed up installation costs by as much as 200%, as the more complex glass takes longer to fit and requires specialist tools and enhanced skills.
Autoglass sales and marketing director Peter Lumsdaine said glass claims already accounted for half of all claims made by fleet managers.
He said: ‘We need to work in partnership with fleet managers to ensure they are staying one step ahead of these forecasts.
‘If you get a windscreen stone chip early enough, it can be repaired and save fleets the much greater cost of replacement.’