Does My Car Insurance Cover Pothole Damage?

Spring doesn’t just mean the start of warmer temperatures, budding flowers and longer days. It’s also the start of pothole season. When damage is caused by hitting a pothole, questions arise regarding insurance and other reimbursement options and here are the answers:

Does Auto Insurance Cover Pothole Damage?

The short answer is yes, if you have collision coverage. While most people think of collision as an impact with another vehicle, this coverage also encompasses hitting inanimate objects such as lamp posts, guard rails, and potholes. In addition, if you hit another vehicle, or even a person, due to an encounter with a pothole, your liability insurance will cover these events. 

Should I File a Claim?

This one is tricky – you can always file a claim but you need to ask if it will cause more harm than good in the long run. Damage to a vehicle due to a pothole is usually minor and repair work is often less than the deductible. In this situation, do not file a claim. However, if the pothole damage is extensive due to the size and depth of the hole, repair costs can soar above the $1,000 mark, so filing a claim might be the right decision, but even now there is a caveat. A pothole damage claim is considered a single-car accident, which your insurance carrier classifies as “at-fault.” This means that your insurance company holds you solely responsible for the vehicle-pothole encounter. When an at-fault claim is filed, it is highly likely that your rates will rise at your next policy renewal.  

Bottom line: if the cost of damage repair is less than your deductible, do not file a claim. If it is more than the deductible, you must determine if the amount you receive from your insurance carrier is likely to be more or less than the increase in your rates that will result from filing the claim. 

Is there Any Other Recourse?

Sometimes you can obtain reimbursement from the governmental authority responsible for maintaining the roads, including the city, county, or state. Also, your insurance company might pay your claim and then request reimbursement from the governmental authority directly. Some states make this process easier than others and there is often a short time limit between incurring the damage and filing a claim. Also, some states require that you provide proof that the road commission new of the pothole for 30 or days or more before you hit it, and did nothing to repair it. While this seems like the odds are not in your favor, you are correct but compensation can be had.

What Proof Do I Need to Support a Claim?

Whether you’re filing a claim with an insurance company or your county road commission, you need to document everything. This should include:

  • Taking a photograph of the pothole at the time of the incident. Since a photo of a hole in the road does not always record the true depth and size of it, use something standard, like a dollar bill, in the photo to best capture its dimensions. 
  • Taking an onsite photograph of the damage to your vehicle. 
  • Documenting the time, date and place of the accident.
  • Getting at least two estimates from two different repair shops. 

Is There a Way to be Proactive?

One of the best ways to proactively address pothole issues is to talk to your local officials. Take pictures of pothole-filled roads and share them, along with a request for repair, to the applicable road commission. Be sure to date this request because it can later be used to document that the commission knew about the problem but did nothing to correct it. Also, in large cities, there is often a dedicated department just to deal with pothole issues and it is the best place to start. For smaller towns, city hall can be a starting point if you don’t know where else to go. Finally, using social media to share your pothole experiences with other drivers can help motivate government entities to make repairs. 

Having coverage to address a run-in with a pothole begins by having the right automobile insurance. At Alliance, we can help you find the best liability and collision coverage for a price that fits your budget. Don’t wait until you find yourself in a pothole to learn that you don’t have the coverage you need.

Questions?We can help you! Call us at (866) 771 4715 or click contact us to the right.

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