Will Your City Pay Your Pothole Claim?

Driving on roads covered with potholes is never fun.  These pesky pits can cause extreme damage to your vehicle and also make for an uncomfortable ride.  Cities in the northeast and midwest are especially susceptible to potholes because of their intense weather.  You may not know it, but potholes actually form when moisture gets into the pavement and then freezes and expands, causing the pavement to crack.  Because of this, if you drive around cities like New York or Boston, you won’t be in for a smooth ride.

Cities That Pay Pothole Claims

For some lucky citizens, their city or state government might cover damage from potholes.   Common claims from pothole damage include blown tires, flat tires, bent rims, lost hubcaps, and alignment issues.  If you experience damage caused by a pothole, you can submit a damage claim to the government agency responsible for fixing transportation issues in your area.  The bad news, however, is that many of these claims go ignored.pothole claims

In Chicago, for example, 1,100 claims were recently submitted to repair damage from potholes.  This number is not only a record high, but it is increasing.  Luckily for residents of the Windy City, the city is allowed to process claims for up to $2,000 in damage.  For residents to submit these claims, they need to send in a complete police accident report and either a paid bill or two estimates from repair shops.  The payments from the city can take up to six months to process and are not always for the full amount.  The city thinks that they are not 100% responsible for the damage. After all, it wasn’t the city’s fault that you drove into a pothole.  Nevertheless, Chicagoans can still expect to be compensated for around 50% of the damage.

In the state of Virginia, many factors come into play when getting your claim paid for by the local government.  These include, but are not limited to:  was the pothole previously reported; was the transportation agency aware that it needed to be filled; did the repair crew have enough time to repair it?  The Commonwealth of Virginia’s department of transportation (VDOT) is responsible for repairing potholes on 58,000 miles of public road in the state.  To file a claim, you can apply for reimbursement online through VDOT, and you will get paid as long as you can prove the state is at fault.  Unfortunately, this process can take months of waiting and delays.

Getting The Government To Pay Your Claim Isn’t Easy!

Other municipalities aren’t so accommodating.  Colorado Springs will refuse to pay your claim if it hasn’t received a prior warning that said pothole does, in fact, exist.  Even if they did have notice, they would only pay your claim if they had ample time to repair it, yet still did not.  A local TV station in Colorado Springs found out that the city rejected pothole-related claims at a rate of 98%.

Often, your insurance company will pay your claim for you and then go after the local government to get their money back.  Attorney David Tompkins of Bethesda, Maryland, says that if you can show the pothole damaged your tire and you file a claim with your insurance company, “your insurance carrier will go through a process of making that governmental claim for you to get their money back. If they do…you’ll get your deductible back from your insurance carrier.”

Your Insurance Might Cover Pothole Damage

The sad truth is that pothole-related claims are rejected more often than not.  It’s best to go through your insurance company and let them handle the damage.  The pothole damage will be covered if your insurance policy is equipped with collision coverage.  Collision coverage, which covers damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident, will protect you when your car hits another vehicle or object.  If you drive in a city that is notorious for potholes, you might want to talk to your insurance agent about buying collision coverage.


  Comments: 15

  1. Christopher polk Polk

    Hit a pothole in bend my rim blow my tire

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Check your insurance policy to see if you have collision coverage. If you do, then you could at least file a claim through your insurance to get it fixed. However, there are two problems with this: 1) you have a deductible, which means you won’t get the entire amount to fix it, and 2) filing a claim will likely result in your rates going up at your next renewal.
      You’re only other option would be to see if the city will pay for all or part of your damages. If they aren’t willing and you don’t have collision coverage, then you’ll need to pay everything out of pocket.

    • I got one here in NC last week and snapped my front passenger side axle into & popped my tire!! Not their fault??? So I guess I should drive from white line to white line in order to miss every pot hole????? Geez

  2. I hit a pothole a recked my $200 rim and tire

    • Did you have any other damage?i dent my rim but my tire sidewall had a hole tire cost 200 new :/

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hitting potholes can definitely cause a lot of damage, especially if you have custom parts. To make it worse, custom parts sometimes aren’t covered by insurance unless the company knows about them, so you’ll need to make sure your company is okay with it. If you have collision coverage with a low deductible, you could try to get it fixed that way. Your only other option would be to see if the city will pay for the damages. Whether they will or not depends entirely on the city.

  3. I hit two big potholes on Watt Ave in Sacramento, CA. and cost me $500 for two tires and to have my rim fixed. Who do I need to talk to about getting reimbursed?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      If you want to see if the Sacramento municipality will pay for it, then you’ll need to go to the city’s office and speak with someone there. Make sure to bring any documentation you have of the damage to your car, any estimates you have, pictures, as well as the location and picture of the pothole, if possible. The more documentation you have, the more likely they will be willing to reimburse you for some or all of the damage amount.

  4. Last night I was driving in 90 expressway.
    Around addison st area It was dark I could not see pothole. As soon as I passed pothole, I heard loud sound. But too late in gage I saw tire pressure picture three tires 43 but only right back tire 2 right away. I was so scared. Very slowly I parked in right side shoulder and then called 911,
    They sent to me city tow truck. I told repairman
    This problem is pothole. He said No.
    One body shop charge to change new tire $389.00+tax, other shop still looking for .

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      If it’s possible for you to get a picture of your damage and of the pothole itself (only if it’s safe to do so), then submit that and the estimate to the city. They will have a municipal office somewhere in the city to conduct official business. If it was on the interstate highway, then getting a picture of the pothole isn’t realistic, but at least describe the location as best you can, to the exact spot that it’s located. Hopefully, they will be willing to reimburse you.

  5. Clyde Cunningham

    I was on a major highway in Texas (59) and hit a pot hole & it bent my rim! I pulled over & 6 people hit the same hole & had the same damage what help can I get with this issue 😥

    • I just hit one in Austin off of Parmer ln and it bent both my front and rear passenger wheels. Just wheels are 3k. Does anyone know what to do about this in TX??

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Your best option would be to contact the city closest to you and see if they will reimburse you. Tell them about the other 6 vehicles, show them pictures and the estimate, and tell them the location. If there isn’t a city close by, then you should contact the state.
      If the damages are in the thousands of dollars, then you can definitely turn that claim into your insurance company, assuming you have collision coverage. Even with your deductible, this is still worthwhile if the total damage amount is over $3,000.

  6. Ok, so the majority of these comments only tells of unfortunate pothole experiences. I think what most people are seeking are answers. Such as who’s responsible? And can one be reimbursed from whatever city they encountered the incident?

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