Is Pothole Damage Covered by Car Insurance?

Pothole damage is covered if you purchased collision coverage in your auto insurance policy, which pays for damages from striking an object — in this case, a pothole. Deductibles apply with collision insurance claims and will dictate whether you should report the pothole damage to your insurance company. For relatively minor damages, it may be more cost-effective to pay for those repairs out of pocket than to face higher premiums because you added to your claims history.

How Can a Pothole Damage My Car?

Potholes can pose a bigger threat to your car and safety than you might initially think. Sometimes you just feel (and hear) a loud bump or your car starts veering slightly. This may be the extent of the damage after driving over a pothole.

However, potholes can potentially wreak havoc on your suspension, tires and rims, alignment, steering and more.

Unlucky motorists may experience a cracked wheel, punctured tire or a bent rim. In severe scenarios, drivers may even suffer damage to their car’s frame and structural integrity, which can develop into full-blown problems over time.

Pothole damages should be treated as soon as possible. After driving over a pothole, you should watch for any of the following warning signs:

  • Bent rims
  • Flat tire
  • Bulges or bubbles in your tire
  • Inability to steer straight
  • Low sitting front or rear
  • Front end dives when you brake
  • Steering wheel shakes or vibrates
  • Leaking fluids
  • Odd exhaust noises
  • Wheels feel misaligned

Catching pothole-related damages early can prevent minor damages from turning into life-threatening problems if left untreated.

What Type of Coverage Do I Need for Pothole Damage?

Collision coverage will insure your car for damages caused by driving over potholes. If you’re financing or leasing your car, you will likely already have collision coverage. Most auto lenders and leasing companies will require drivers to maintain full coverage, which includes collision and comprehensive insurance.

Keep in mind that a deductible will apply when filing a collision claim for pothole damages. Deductibles generally range from several hundred dollars up to $2,500.

If the damage is minor and costs equal to or less than your deductible damage, you should reconsider filing an insurance claim. Filing a claim — even for minor damages —  can result in a higher premium when you renew your policy. Paying elevated rates for an extended period is  sometimes more expensive than the cost to repair your car.

Does Comprehensive Cover Pothole Damage?

Comprehensive coverage doesn't cover pothole damage to your car. Comprehensive insurance covers damage caused by non-collision events like vandalism, harsh weather or theft. Instead, you'll need collision coverage.

Does Car Insurance Cover Alignment Damage Caused by Potholes?

Your car insurance will cover pothole-related alignment damage if you carry collision coverage. While this coverage is optional, it can cover you if you hit an obstacle such as a telephone pole, guard rail or pothole.

Does Insurance Cover Rim Damage Caused by a Pothole?

Your collision insurance will typically cover rim damage and any other tire damage caused by a pothole. If you have costly custom rims, you may need to buy supplemental coverage to get reimbursed for your losses.

Tips To Avoid Pothole Damage While Driving

Unless you know your route very well, it can be difficult to avoid pothole damage altogether. Below are a few tips to help you navigate safely on roads riddled with potholes.

  • Choose a route with well-maintained roads — prevention is always a good idea!
  • Navigate around potholes only if it’s safe and legal to do so.
  • Watch for puddles that could signal upcoming potholes.
  • Ensure that your tires are always properly inflated and in good condition.
  • Always pay attention to the road.
  • Be extra vigilant when driving on unfamiliar roads.
  • Always hold the steering wheel firmly in case you are jolted by road conditions.
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What To Do if You Hit a Pothole

After running a pothole, you should consider pulling over and quickly inspecting your car for damages. You may have a small idea of the level of damage depending on how deep the pothole was and how fast you were going. Specifically, you should check for the following:

  • Tires and wheels: Keep an eye out for a bulge on the sidewall, which is a common issue after hitting a pothole. Not fixing this issue could result in a flat tire. Also, examine your rims for warping, bends, cracks and chips.
  • Suspension: You’ll know you have handling issues if your car drifts to the left or right even when you hold your steering wheel straight.
  • Undercarriage: Deep potholes can damage the undercarriage of your car. Check your muffler, exhaust pipes and oil pan for cracks or dents.

If the damage is severe and you suspect it will exceed your deductible, you should file an insurance claim.

How To File a Claim for Pothole Damage

Here are a few things you should do when filing a car insurance claim for pothole damage:

  • Document the situation: Take a picture of the pothole and your car’s damages. Log the time, date and street. If there were any witnesses, you should collect their names and contact information.
  • Notify the police if there were any injuries: If the pothole caused injury to you or your passengers or led your car to injure another party, you should call the police officer. Be sure to ask the officer for steps on retrieving a copy of the police report.
  • File the insurance claim: You can typically file a claim via phone, online portal or mobile app depending on your insurer. Your insurance adjuster will provide instructions on uploading your documentation.
  • Get your car repaired: Get multiple repair estimates that you can submit with your claim. Once you and your insurer agree on a settlement amount, you can schedule an appointment with a repair facility.

FAQs

Is hitting a pothole an at-fault accident?

Damage sustained from driving over a pothole is considered a single-car accident so there is no need to determine which driver was at fault. Collision insurance, if you have it, will pay for damages caused by potholes.

Do you have to file a claim if you hit a pothole?

No, and you may want to refrain from filing a claim if the repair cost is less than or equal to your deductible.

Can you get reimbursed for pothole damage?

If you have collision coverage, then your auto insurance should cover pot-hole-related damages. If the pothole is on a public road, then you may seek pothole damage reimbursement directly from the city or state government, especially if they were previously made aware of the pothole and did nothing to repair it.

Are wheels covered by insurance?

If you have collision coverage, then auto insurance will cover damages to your wheels after driving over a pothole.

Key Takeaways

  • Collision coverage will pay for damage to your tires and rims caused by a pothole up to the limits of your policy.
  • Driving over potholes can damage your steering, suspension, tires, rims and alignment systems.
  • After driving over a pothole, you should pull over and document any damages and the pothole’s location.
  • Generally, you should avoid filing an insurance claim if pothole-related car repairs are less than or equal to your deductible.

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