Many perils exist on the road as a motorist operates a vehicle, and one unfortunate scenario that is all too common is the existence of potholes and the potential damage that can be sustained by an automobile after striking one. Whether or not an auto insurance policy will cover such damages is dependent on many factors including the type of coverage that is listed under the declarations. However, collision coverage will generally cover the damage caused to a policyholder's vehicle as a result of encountering a pothole.

The repairs that may be needed after running over a pothole can be as little as needing to replace a tire to being involved in an accident as a result. In most cases, collision auto insurance coverage will pay for damages resulting from potholes, although it usually excludes the replacement of tires. However, even if tires were covered under the terms of the policy, it may be in the best interest of the insured to refrain from filing a claim to avoid having to pay the applicable deductible. Generally, policyholders will have deductibles ranging from $500 to $1,000, which in many cases is much more than the average price to replace a tire.

Unfortunately, striking a pothole can cause much more damage than to just tires. In some cases, the damages can be much more severe and could include wheel, suspension and undercarriage damage. These types of damages are usually covered under collision coverage and can become extremely expensive; therefore the driver would need to file a claim since such repairs would be much more costly than the deductible. Although wheels and suspension parts may be replaced under the collision portion of a car insurance policy individuals that have customized such parts should be aware that the insurer may not cover the costs to replace customizations.

One of the most common alterations that vehicle owners make to automobiles is switching off stock wheels for custom rims. Generally, auto insurance companies base premiums on the factory specifications of vehicles and coverage may not include custom wheels unless disclosed to the carrier and any additional premium is paid; the same applies to customized suspension such as "lifted" trucks, "lowered" vehicles or airbag suspension. If a premium has not been paid for such customizations, the insurer may only compensate for the amount of the factory parts and the insured would have to pay the difference to return the vehicle to the way it was customized. In some cases, certain damages may not be covered due to alterations and policyholders may want to address these issues with the carrier prior to making the changes to the automobile.

Probably the worst case scenario caused by striking a pothole would be an accident. In this case, many factors can come into play and different types of coverage would be needed to cover specific damages. Although the damage caused to the insured vehicle would be covered by "collision", other related expenses would be paid by another portion of a policy. Any injuries that are sustained by a third party would be covered either by the bodily injury liability of the driver or personal injury protection (PIP) if an individual resides in a state that requires it. In addition, property damage caused by the motorist that struck the pothole would be covered under the property damage liability portion of their policy.

Workers repairing road

Although an unfortunate and sometimes unavoidable circumstance, hitting potholes can have devastating results. Fortunately, motorists that maintain the right kind of policies will likely be covered and can avoid steep bills that may stem from such incidents. Drivers may want to keep an eye on the road for such perils to prevent striking a pothole and report any to the appropriate city, county or state department for repair.