It's officially pothole season! As Virginia's fluctuating winter temperatures rise and fall, moisture in our roadways expands and contracts. Add in snow and ice, salt, and the continual passing weight of heavy cars and trucks. By late winter and early spring, that cycle of precipitation and stress result in a bloom of car-eating craters!
Potholes affect your driving and can take a toll on your car. From dented rims and blown tires to damaged exhaust systems, potholes can result in broth major and minor damage. Our car insurance experts know a lot about coverage, but we also navigate pothole season in Virginia too! We have great tips to protect your car, report a pothole and how insurance works with pothole damage.
How to protect your car
To prevent damage to your car from potholes, Debbie, from our insurance claim team, has these tips:
- Stay aware and look ahead for potholes to avoid.
- Slow down, so potholes don't sneak up on you.
- Increase following distance behind driver ahead.
- Stay away from puddles- there may be a pothole hiding.
- Report potholes right when you see them.
- If you hit a pothole and then notice new noises or vibrations in your car, have it checked as soon as possible.
The minimum tread depth recommended for safe winter driving is 6/32". Check your tread depth in the fall using a tire gauge to see if your tires will provide traction throughout winter and support for those nasty potholes in the spring. This may prevent a dangerous blowout.
Routinely check your tire pressure throughout the winter. The same fluctuating temperatures that wreak havoc on asphalt can also cause your car's tires to lose pressure. Ensure they are inflated to the manufacturer's recommended levels and add air if needed. You can find the proper air pressure on a sticker on the driver's door jamb or in the owner's manual. Do not use the pressure levels stamped on the sidewall of the tire.
How to Report a Pothole
The Virginia Department of Transportation has a helpful webpage for potholes on state-maintained roadways. There you can get many questions answered, report a pothole, and even submit a damage claim. You can also call 1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623). VDOT is committed to patching potholes as soon as possible, especially those in travel lanes.
If you chose to submit a claim to VDOT, reimbursement is not guaranteed and there is a formal process in place. They will investigate the incident and history of the case. They will also determine if road crews had reasonable time to repair the pothole from the point it was identified to when your damage occurred.
Here's what documentation you'll need:
- Photos of damage
- Photos of potholes and road
- Written estimates and receipts for repairs
- Any other supporting documentation
Potholes and Your Car Insurance
To understand the relationship between potholes and your car insurance, you should consider the responsibility of car maintenance. There's a good chance your tires will withstand the brunt of a pothole if they are correctly maintained.
But flats happen. So with every Northern Neck Car Insurance policy, you have 24/7 Emergency Roadside Assistance 365 days a year. That's not just for a crash, but anytime you run out of gas, experience a flat tire, or have mechanical trouble while driving. The expense to repair a flat or mechanical problem is not covered by insurance, but you can have peace of mind that help is on the way.
Your Collision Insurance will provide coverage if you hit a pothole if the damage involves more than just your tire. A bent wheel, displaced struts, or ruptured ball joints are a few examples of damage that will qualify as a covered claim. And the good news is your tire will be covered as well in this case, with possible depreciation for wear. In other words, you may not get money for a brand new tire if the tire that was damaged had noticeable signs of mileage.
It's also important to factor in your collision deductible- the portion of the claim you pay. It may or may not be greater than the repair bill. If the cost is greater, it may make more sense to pay for the repair yourself and not report the claim.
Stay safe this spring on Virginia's roadways. Remember to protect our transportation professionals by slowing down and yielding when you see VDOT at work!