Potholes have cost car insurance companies and consumers $27 billion in the last five years, according to a survey commissioned by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.
The survey found that 31 percent of car owners who reported pothole damage to their vehicles filed a claim with their insurers. Sixty-five percent said they paid out of pocket for the vehicle to be fixed, and only 3 percent said local governments responsible for road maintenance foot the bill.
Drivers in the Midwest, Northeast and North Central regions of the country reported the most pothole damage, but the numbers were not markedly above those reported in the South and West, despite their milder winters.
Collision insurance, which is optional, covers damage from potholes, but the damage may not be more than the deductible. An earlier State Farm study found that the average cost of damage from potholes was between $300 to $700.
The independent agents group offers the following tips for drivers encountering potholes:
- Drive cautiously and keep an eye on traffic patterns to spot potholes.
- Avoid swerving out of the way at the last minute. It's better to risk damage to your car than collide with another vehicle.
- Report potholes or road damage to the state or local transportation department. Some road departments have pothole hotlines.
- Pull over as soon as possible if you run over a pothole and suspect damage. If there is damage, record details of the event in case you need to file an insurance claim.
- Talk to your insurance agent at least once a year to make sure your auto insurance policy is up to date.