Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Important facts to know...

  • Pothole damage is not often covered by insurance
  • Collision coverage might protect against some types of pothole damage
  • If the pothole is the result of someone else’s negligence, you might be able to sue for damages

Pothole damage is going to take its toll on your car over time. Insurance companies won’t cover wear and tear as a result of hitting potholes over and over again throughout the life of your vehicle.

Harsh weather conditions, especially during the winter increase the likelihood of potholes.

However, there are various incidents that might be covered by your insurance policy.

Determining whether insurance will take care of the repairs will be based upon the level of damage as well as the kind of coverage you have in place.

Collision coverage might help you make a claim on your car insurance policy to cover sudden, accidental damage to your car from hitting a pothole.

Potholes can damage your steering, suspension, and alignment systems. They can cause damage to your vehicle’s tires and rims as well. Other related damages may include loss of control of the car, pulling in one direction, uneven tire wear, low tire pressure, etc.

If you file a collision claim, it will go on your insurance record, which in turn can affect your auto insurance rates.

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What’s the cause of the damage?

When you file a claim the insurance company, you have to identify how the pothole damage occurred. If it isn’t linked to one specific instance, then your claim is likely to be denied.

Small amounts of damage will occur over time. There might be small dings, paint chips, and even tire damage. However, this damage is considered general wear and tear.

If you are driving down a road and there is a large pothole, you could hit it with enough force to bend your frame, damage the transmission, and incur all sorts of other damages.

This situation is when you need to be prepared to file an insurance claim. You will need to tell the insurance company when and where it happened. If you are able to take a photo of the damage as well as the pothole, it can help speed up the claims process.

If you can’t provide photos, then you need:

  • The name of the road
  • The estimated mile marker or location
  • The direction you were traveling in
  • Characteristics of the pothole

If there were witnesses to the damage, it’s important to get their names and phone numbers. If the damage is extensive enough, you might also have a police report. A tow truck might need to haul your car away and the tow truck driver’s testimony might be used as well.

Collision coverage on your policy is generally what’s going to help you with pothole damage when it is approved by the insurance company.

States will not require you to have collision insurance coverage, though a lienholder might. The collision coverage is what will protect you against things that you hit.

While these things you hit generally include other vehicles, guardrails, and telephone poles, it can also include potholes if large enough.

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What level of damage do you have?

You will need to bring your car down to a collision center or body shop in order for the damages to be identified. A claims adjuster from the insurance company will be able to determine whether the pothole damage occurred as you say it did.

If it did, in fact, occur through one event as opposed to several small ones, your claim will likely be approved.

Some cars are capable of withstanding greater levels of impact than others. This difference is taken into consideration when insurance companies calculate premiums. Rugged cars are often more affordable to insure for this very reason.

They are less likely to need major repairs after being involved in a minor collision.

You will need to pay the collision deductible before the insurance company pays anything.

Adding collision coverage is not an expensive undertaking. When you consider how much it can save you if you collide with anything while behind the wheel of a car, it is well worth the expense.

The cost of collision will vary based on the insurance company as well as the level of coverage. This is why it’s beneficial to get quotes from several different insurance companies.

Based on the level of damage, you also have to look at whether it’s cost effective to pay the deductible on your policy. If the repairs are less than your deductible, the easier solution might be to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket.

It’s always a good idea to get a few estimates for repairs. If the cost of repairs is less than your car insurance deductible, it would be better if you pay the repair cost out of your pocket.

The insurance company will pay up to the coverage limit, which is the maximum amount they would pay toward a claim.

Your deductible is set when you get a policy and is often $500 or $1,000.

Is the accident a result of someone else’s negligence?

Owners of private property, including residential and commercial properties, are required to reasonably maintain their land. This includes parking lots, driveways, and any other property you might be required to drive on.

If you hit a pothole on private property, you might not think anything of it. A small pothole isn’t going to cause any damage. However, if you hit a large enough pot hole, it could cause substantial damage.

Private properties should repair potholes as they occur. Further, they need to identify potholes to ensure you see them and can either avoid them or drive slowly through them.

If you experience significant damages as a result of a pothole on private property and you don’t have the necessary auto insurance coverage, you might be able to sue.

You will need to prove that the damages occurred on their property and that you were unable to avoid the potholes.

It is often difficult to get results out of a lawsuit. This is why it’s going to be best if you have sufficient insurance coverage in place.

Pothole damage occurs every day. In many instances, it is a result of small potholes that slowly take its toll on your vehicle. However, if you have substantial damage from hitting one large pothole, you may be able to file a claim with the insurance company.

You simply need to make sure that you have collision coverage in place on your policy.

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