Pothole Damage Claim

Broken asphalt pavement resulting in a pothole, dangerous to motorists
•••   kozmoat98/iStock/Getty Images Plus

If you’re driving during the day and in conditions of high visibility, spotting and avoiding a pothole is easy if you’re paying attention. But if it’s dark, stormy, or if you’re messing with the radio dial, you might hear that sickening “Clunk! Crunch!” that means something bad has happened to your vehicle.

In the vast majority of cases, being startled is the only damage you’ll incur if you go over a pothole. But if it’s particularly deep or if you’re going too fast, you might be left with some dents, scratches -- or worse.

Pothole damage to your vehicle can easily be extended. Damage to the vehicle’s tires, hubcaps, struts, and alignment can quickly add up leaving some drivers with repairs up to a thousand dollars or more. Filing a pothole damage claim is easy, but whether or not you should is something you should consider.

How a Pothole Damage Claim Works

A pothole damage claim is a single car accident, which is filed as an at-fault accident by your insurance carrier. Hitting a pothole is considered a collision. Your collision deductible will apply, and your rates could go up at your next renewal due to filing an at-fault claim. Sometimes the damage sustained is a lower dollar amount than your deductible, which would make filing a claim irrelevant.

An Alternative to Filing a Claim

Do a little research to see if the road commission in your area pays for pothole damage to vehicles. First, determine if the road is a city, county, or state road. Depending on the area you live in, it is possible to get reimbursement. Of course, it can be a lengthy process, so be prepared to pay the cost upfront.

Tips for city, county, or state pothole damage reimbursement:

Whether you are filing a claim with your insurance or the government, three things are essential: Documentation, documentation, documentation!

  • Take a photo of the pothole
  • Note the date and time of accident
  • Get at least two estimates from two different mechanics

Some states are easier to file for damages than others. Lots of states require you to provide proof the road commission knew of the pothole for 30 days or more and did nothing to repair it. The burden of proof lies with you and basically it is going to be nearly impossible to win.