Does Car Insurance Cover Pothole Damage?

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Your car insurance will likely cover pothole damage if you have collision coverage.
Potholes could potentially damage your wheel, alignment, suspension, or just give you a flat. Even if you have coverage, filing a claim might not always be the right decision, especially if the repair costs are lower than your deductible.
That’s why the car insurance broker and comparison shopping app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about insurance coverage and pothole damage.
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Is hitting a pothole covered by comprehensive or collision coverage?

Only collision coverage protects you from damages resulting from hitting a pothole.
Collision insurance protects you from damages and expenses resulting from a collision with other vehicles or stationary objects (whether or not you are at fault).
On the other hand, comprehensive insurance covers damage that is not the result of a collision—like severe weather, vandalism, or theft. So, potholes do not fall under comprehensive coverage.
If you hit a pothole and need to file a claim under your collision coverage, you will need to pay a deductible before your insurance kicks in and covers the rest.
Common deductible amounts range from $500-$1000. So, if you just have to replace one flat tire, it might not be worth making a claim because the cost might be lower than your deductible.
Even if your repair costs are a little more expensive than your deductible, it might be worth paying the repairs out of pocket because a claim could mean a slight increase in your insurance premium.
However, if your car sustained damages that exceed your deductible, it is probably a good idea to make a claim so you don’t have to pay a big repair bill out of pocket.

Does car insurance cover tire and rim damage caused by a pothole?

Yes, collision coverage will cover any damage to tires and rims from hitting a pothole (up to your policy limit).
These damages can lead to cosmetic issues or make the car undrivable.
Keep in mind, custom rims often require special coverage, and may not be protected under your policy.

Does car insurance cover alignment damage caused by a pothole?

If you have collision insurance and you hit a pothole, you will be covered for resulting alignment issues up to your policy limit.
While unlikely, potholes can result in significant damage to your vehicle, like throwing off your vehicle’s alignment, steering, or suspension. These issues can affect gas mileage or even make your vehicle unsafe to drive.
If you suspect your vehicle has sustained significant damage as a result of hitting a pothole, take it to a trusted mechanic (or a few) for a repair estimate before deciding whether or not to file a claim.

How big does a pothole have to be to file a claim?

The size of the pothole does not matter when filing a collision claim. Your insurance company will pay the damage over your deductible (up to your policy limit) whether your car is damaged by a shallow dip or a craterous hole.
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What should I do if I hit a pothole?

After a pothole collision, immediately find a place to safely pull over.
Then, take photos of the incident. This includes photos of the damage to your car and photos of the pothole, if possible. Also be sure to note any relevant details, like time of day, weather, traffic levels, and your speed at the time of the collision.
Then, call your local non-emergency police line to file a report on the accident. When filing a claim, the more paperwork the better.
If the car is drivable, take it to a mechanic to get an estimate. If the car is not safe to drive, call a tow truck to take your vehicle to the mechanic.
Once you have an estimate, it is time to decide if you want to handle the damages through your insurance company.
Key Takeaway Be sure to document any accident with photos and a police report.

Should you always file a claim for pothole damage?

No—whether or not you file a claim depends on whether or not your deductible exceeds your repair costs (and by how much).
Most of the time, hitting a pothole does not merit an insurance claim because it is likely to only cause minor or incidental damage. Minor or cosmetic damage will often lead to the repairs being lower than your deductible, making filing a claim unnecessary.
Also, insurance companies will likely consider hitting a pothole a single-vehicle accident. This means you will be considered at fault unless you can provide proof that another vehicle caused you to hit the pothole. This may lead to your insurance rates being increased when it comes time to renew.
In these cases, paying the damages out-of-pocket is often the smarter decision for you and your bottom line.
Key Takeaway Paying out-of-pocket for minor pothole-related damage can keep down premiums.

Can the city be responsible for pothole damage?

In some cases, the city can be held responsible for damages to your vehicle due to a pothole. In these cases, the city will reimburse you for any damages.
The process varies from city to city, so check with your local government, either by phone or their website, to see how to begin this process. The reimbursement process may be complex and time-consuming, and may not be worth pursuing incidental damages.
Even if the city repays you for damages to your vehicle, the process is likely to be lengthy, and it may be months before you are repaid.
It is recommended that you file a claim with your insurance and repair your car in a timely manner, instead of waiting for the city to pay you for pothole damages.
Key Takeaway Even if the city will reimburse you, the process can be lengthy and complex.
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Make sure you’re covered for pothole damage

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