Published: February 2, 2022Updated: August 15, 2022

Pothole Coverage: Does Car Insurance Cover Pothole Damage?

If you have collision coverage, you can get pothole damage covered.

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You’re cruising along when suddenly you feel a bump. Did you hit an object? If it’s a pothole, then technically, yes, as potholes count as objects in the world of auto insurance.

If you have collision coverage, you could get pothole damage covered; however, most of the time, the repairs will cost less than your deductible, so filing a claim isn’t worth it. Instead, you should pay for the vehicle repairs out of pocket. But let’s start at the beginning.

Does Car Insurance Cover Pothole Damage?

You may or may not have car insurance coverage for potholes. It all depends on whether or not you have collision coverage.

Does Collision Coverage Cover Pothole Damage?

Collision insurance covers pothole damage, as colliding with a pothole is the same as colliding with any object. However, collision coverage doesn’t cover normal wear and tear on a car or its tires due to bad road conditions; there must be a specific instance of pothole damage.

Does Comprehensive Coverage Cover Pothole Damage?

Collision and comprehensive coverage go hand in hand; both are optional auto insurance coverages that are part of full coverage. However, only collision coverage covers pothole damage; comprehensive coverage covers incidents other than collisions, such as auto vandalism and hail damage.

How Do I Know if I Have Pothole Damage Coverage?

If you have collision coverage, you have pothole damage coverage. However, no state requires collision coverage, so you may not have it even if you have the required minimum coverage. We recommend getting full coverage, including liability coverage, medical payments coverage, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage.

Learn more about full coverage vs. liability and the differences between these two coverage types.

DID YOU KNOW?

In the U.S., 1 in 5 miles of highway, 45,000 bridges, and major roads are in poor condition, which could include potholes.1

Can Potholes Damage Your Car?

Potholes can damage your car, but usually only minor damage to wheels and tires. There’s also a low risk of damage to your car’s alignment, suspension, steering, and rims.

NOTE

If you have custom rims, collision coverage may not cover their damages. You may need custom parts coverage.

Signs of Pothole Damage

Spotting pothole damage is easy. Look for these signs:

  • Visible damage on your wheels or tires
  • Your car feeling like it’s pulling one way
  • A wobbly feeling when you’re steering

What to Do if You Hit a Pothole

If you hit a pothole, don’t panic. There are a few actions to take.

Immediately After the Incident

You’ll want to collect evidence if you decide to file a claim for pothole damage. Here’s what to do:

  1. Pull over to a safe spot near the pothole.
  2. Take pictures of the pothole, your car, and the surrounding area.
  3. Note the time of day, the weather, and the pothole’s location.
  4. File a nonemergency police report for your claim. The more evidence of pothole damage you have, the more likely you are to get covered.

Should You File a Pothole Damage Claim?

Whether you should file a pothole damage claim depends on the severity of the damages and the subsequent repair costs. If the repairs cost less than your deductible, it makes sense to pay out of pocket rather than filing a claim. Note that the average collision deductible is $500, and the average repair cost for pothole damage is $306,2 so in that case, filing a claim doesn’t make sense.

Still, some pothole damage is more expensive and can exceed $1,000, especially if it involves damage to the suspension, steering, or alignment. We recommend getting repair estimates from two or three licensed mechanics before deciding if it’s worth filing a claim.

How Deep Does a Pothole Have to Be to File a Claim?

The good news? There’s no minimum pothole depth required for you to file a claim. The claim is based on your car’s damage, not the pothole’s depth. So it’s OK to put your measuring stick away when you’re at the proverbial scene of the crime.

Will You Have to Pay Your Deductible?

If you file a pothole damage claim, you’ll have to pay your collision deductible. Not sure how deductibles work? A deductible is the amount you’ll pay toward a covered claim before your insurance provider contributes.

For example, if your deductible is $500 and your pothole damage repairs cost $1,000, you’d pay the first $500, and then your insurance provider would pay the second $500. That’s why, if your repairs cost less than your deductible and you’ve yet to meet your deductible, paying out of pocket is much easier than filing a claim and then paying a portion of your deductible.

How to Make a Pothole Damage Claim

If your repairs cost more than your deductible and you’ve decided to file a claim, here’s what to do:

  1. Contact your insurance company. You can submit a claim virtually, by mail, or over the phone through your insurance agent or company.
  2. Submit your evidence. Include your notes, photos of the damage, and police report, if any, in the claim you submit. How long insurance claims take varies greatly by company.
  3. Meet with an adjuster. An adjuster will assess your car’s damage (either in person or through the photos you took), estimate the repair cost, and determine your coverage.

Will My Car Insurance Rates Increase After a Pothole Damage Claim?

Whenever you have a covered claim, the cost of your auto insurance premiums may increase. Unfortunately, if you hit a pothole, it’s considered your fault (unless another vehicle pushed you into it). So, when you renew your insurance policy, you can expect higher rates. That’s another reason why filing a pothole damage claim isn’t always worth it.

Is the City Responsible for Pothole Damage?

In some cases, the county, city, or state where you hit the pothole may be responsible for your damages.3 But even if your jurisdiction is responsible, the reimbursement process can be lengthy, so you’ll probably want to repair the car on your own and get reimbursed later. For minor damages, dealing with the government probably isn’t worth the effort.4

You could file a claim against the government to get compensated, but you’d need to prove that the government was negligent, meaning that:

  • It knew or should have known about the poor road conditions.
  • It did not repair the poor road conditions in a reasonable amount of time.5

If you decide to file a property damage claim, make sure you’re within the statute of limitations. The average statute of limitations is four years, but check your state’s statute of limitations for property damage claims.

State Statute of limitations for property damage claims (in years)
Alabama 2
Alaska 2
Arizona 2
Arkansas 3
California 3
Colorado 3
Connecticut 2
Delaware 2
District of Columbia 3
Florida 4
Georgia 4
Hawaii 2
Idaho 3
Illinois 5
Indiana 2
Iowa 5
Kansas 2
Kentucky 2
Louisiana 1
Maine 6
Maryland 3
Massachusetts 3
Michigan 3
Minnesota 6
Mississippi 3
Missouri 5
Montana 2
Nebraska 4
Nevada 3
New Hampshire 3
New Jersey 6
New Mexico 4
New York 3
North Carolina 3
North Dakota 6
Ohio 4
Oklahoma 2
Oregon 6
Pennsylvania 2
Rhode Island 10
South Carolina 3
South Dakota 6
Tennessee 3
Texas 2
Utah 3
Vermont 3
Virginia 5
Washington 3
West Virginia 2
Wisconsin 6
Wyoming 4

How to Add Collision Coverage to Your Policy

Follow these steps to add collision coverage to your policy:

  1. Contact your insurance agent and ask them to add the coverage.
  2. Choose a deductible.
  3. Pay your premium (which will increase).

What Causes Potholes?

If you’ve lived in a cold climate during a harsh winter, you may have noticed a plethora of potholes as you drive down the streets. The freezing and thawing cycles of winter allow moisture to seep into roads, causing them to crumble. This is why it’s particularly important to look out for potholes in the winter.

How to Protect Your Car From Pothole Damage

With some careful driving, you can avoid pothole damage. Here are some tips:

  1. Brake before impact. If you can’t avoid a pothole, brake before the impact, as it’s better to roll than to skid over it.
  2. Choose well-lit roads. If you’re driving at night, travel on roads with good lighting so you can see and avoid potholes.
  3. Report potholes. To make roads safer for everybody, report any potholes you see to your local government.
  4. Slow down. Drive slowly and scan the road for potholes so you can swerve around them.
  5. Take the road more traveled. Drive on roads you know so you can avoid potholes.6

Potholes and Motorcycles

Potholes can be an even bigger problem for motorcyclists than for our four-wheeled friends, causing crashes, injuries, and even fatalities.7 If you see a pothole when you’re driving a motorcycle, slow down and go around it to avoid property damage and injury.

Recap

There are thousands of potholes across the U.S., so safe, careful driving is always a good idea. After all, defensive driving isn’t just about avoiding other drivers; it’s about avoiding road hazards in general, including potholes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about pothole damage.

Insurance covers pothole damage if you have collision coverage. If you lack collision coverage, car insurance doesn’t cover pothole damage.

Follow these steps to report a pothole damage claim:

  1. Take photos and notes of the damage, including photos of your vehicle, the pothole, and the location, and notes about the date, time, and weather during the incident.
  2. File a nonemergency police report.
  3. Submit this evidence to your insurance agent when you file a claim.

Hitting a pothole is considered an at-fault single-vehicle accident. However, if another vehicle pushes you into a pothole, you won’t be considered at fault.

Collision coverage covers hitting a pothole, while comprehensive coverage does not.

Citations

  1. Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. The White House. (2021, Nov 6).
    https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/06/fact-sheet-the-bipartisan-infrastructure-deal/

  2. Potholes and Vehicle Damage. AAA Exchange. (2022).
    https://exchange.aaa.com/automotive/automotive-trends/potholes-and-vehicle-damage/

  3. Does my auto insurance cover damage caused by potholes? Insurance Information Institute. (2022).
    https://www.iii.org/article/does-my-auto-insurance-cover-damage-caused-by-potholes

  4. Is pothole damage covered by car insurance? Progressive. (2022).
    https://www.progressive.com/answers/does-car-insurance-cover-pothole-damage/

  5. Vehicle Damage Due To Poor Road Conditions: Who Is Liable? Nolo. (2022).
    https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/vehicle-damage-due-to-poor-road-conditions-who-is-liable.html

  6. When potholes become costly. State Farm. (2022).
    https://www.statefarm.com/simple-insights/auto-and-vehicles/when-potholes-become-costly

  7. Environmental Factors. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2022).
    https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/00-nht-212-motorcycle/environmental53-54.html