Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Oct 13, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • A basic auto insurance policy doesn’t provide coverage for your own damages but it will pay for third-party damages that you cause
  • If you want coverage that pays for your own damage, you must add optional physical damage protection to your policy
  • Physical damage consists of comprehensive and collision coverage, but collision coverage is the option that pays when you run over a pothole or any other object in the road
  • Collision claims pay for the repairs needed to restore your vehicle to pre-loss condition but you’re typically required to pay a collision deductible before the claim will be paid
  • Since pothole damage repairs are filed under collision coverage, you may be surcharged for a pothole collision claim

Roads that are in need of some serious paving can wreak havoc on your vehicle. If you live in an area that’s prone to potholes, it’s important to prepare for the worst by purchasing an adequate amount of insurance. While not all policies provide vehicle owners with coverage that pays for pothole damage, some do.

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As you’re comparing auto insurance carriers and the products that are offered, it’s your duty to consider both basic coverage options and other optional forms of protection.

Learn what type of coverage that you need to help you pay for pothole damage and what might happen if you ever file a pothole damage claim.

Why doesn’t a basic car insurance policy pay for pothole damage?


Basic auto insurance doesn’t include any type of protection that pays for damage to your car.

Instead of paying for your damage, a basic plan that’s required under state law pays for third-party damages that you’re liable for. These damages include the cost for medical bills to treat bodily injuries and the cost to repair a car that you hit.

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How can you add coverage for your vehicle on your policy?

If you want protection for your own car, you’re going to need to add optional physical damage coverage to your plan.

The coverage comes at a cost, but it also provides you with a great deal of peace of mind.

Not only will you have help paying for damages sustained in a not-at-fault loss, you’ll also have help in situations where you’re to blame.

Does adding physical damage coverage to my policy make sense?

Physical damage coverage tends to be the most expensive coverage on the policy if you carry both comprehensive and collision.

It comes at an exorbitant cost when you’re a high-risk driver with a history of losses or with a history of citations. This is why it’s important to price the cost of coverage before you add it.

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What types of physical damage coverage are available?

There are two types of damage coverage that you can purchase. Only one coverage type will pay for pothole damage repairs. Here’s a breakdown of how each works:

  • Comprehensive Comprehensive physical damage coverage is optional. It pays for losses to your vehicle, up to its fair market value, when the car is damaged in a fire, a vandal, a falling object, a projectile, wind, hail, flood, or when it’s stolen. Most of the time the claims filed under comprehensive don’t involve a collision.
  • Collision – Collision is the most expensive of the two options. In order to carry collision, you must also pay to carry comprehensive. As the name would imply, collision covers repairs to your vehicle when you collide with an object or when there’s a rollover as a result of the vehicle being operated.

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What type of claim is a claim for pothole damage?

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Your vehicle can only really be damaged by a pothole while it’s being operated. Since it’s your responsibility to maneuver around obstacles in the road, it’s your fault and no one else’s when you hit a pothole.

This is why it’s classified as a collision claim and subject to your collision deductible.

Will the claim affect your rates?

Filing a collision claim can definitely impact your rates when it comes time to renew your policy. If you don’t have accident forgiveness, the claim could be charged as an accident on your insurance record. It could even disqualify you from receiving good driver discounts in the upcoming years.

Being charged as an accident could disqualify you from receiving good driver discounts in the upcoming years.

Potholes can really damage your wheels, undercarriage and alignment. If you’ve already hit potholes in the past and you want to protect yourself from situations where the damage is more severe, you should price the cost of collision coverage.

Use an online rate comparison tool to see how much carriers are charging for protection and then you can see if it’s financially feasible.