It’s official — spring is here in Boston! While you may just be thinking about the milder weather and longer days, if you have a car you should also be on the lookout for one of Boston drivers’ biggest foes: the dreaded pothole.
Potholes form when water is absorbed into pavement. When this happens in the winter, the water freezes, expands, and cracks the pavement, creating those lovely holes that you can’t seem to avoid when driving.
So, if you do run over a pothole and damage your car, what should you do? The following is a quick guide to help you get started.
Assess the situation.
First, make sure everyone is okay. Then, consider the damage to your car. You should get your vehicle appraised by an auto body shop to assess the damage before filing a claim. Depending on the amount of damage, it could cost you more in the long run to file a claim than to make a minor repair on your own.
If another vehicle hit you or pushed you into the pothole, make sure to get their information. You should also consider notifying the local Department of Public Works to let them know about the pothole and to request that they fill it in.
Figure out your insurance coverage.
Pothole damage will only be covered if you have full collision coverage. While many people do choose to add this coverage to their auto insurance policies, it is not required — check with your independent agent to make sure you have it.
Compare your deductible to the cost of repair.
If you have full collision coverage and decide to use it to cover the expense of repairing, there are a few things you should know.
- Your collision deductible will apply; meaning, if the damage is covered, the policy will only pay for damages after the deductible amount. Here’s an example: if you incur $2,000 in damage from hitting a pothole and have a $500 deductible on your policy, your claim payment will be $1,500.
- Deductible limits are chosen by the client at the time when the policy is written, but you can change the limits at any time. Drivers should note that if you do change your deductible, it won’t affect any recent claims. You will, however, still be responsible for paying your deductible if you do need to file a claim.
- If you do file a claim for pothole damage, it’s considered a single vehicle loss. This means that you will be surcharged for a minor accident (3 points) if the damage payment exceeds $1,000.
- If the damage exceeds $5,000, a major accident surcharge (4 points) will apply.
Understand surcharge changes.
Remember, if you file a claim due to pothole damage, you could see a surcharge if the following criteria are met:
- The vehicle operator is more than 50% at fault, as determined by the Standards of Fault.
- The vehicle is a private passenger automobile.
- The accident involves a claim payment of more than $1,000 in excess of any deductible.
- The claim payment is for Collision coverage for a vehicle subject to the Safe Driver Insurance Plan.
For a pothole claim, the “single vehicle accident” standard of fault will apply. You can expect a surcharge notice from your insurance company if the above criteria are met. You have the option to appeal a surcharge, as long as you appeal it within 30 days of receiving the surcharge notice. Drivers should note, however, that there is a non-refundable $50 fee for any appeal made.
If you decide to appeal your surcharge, you will still be responsible for paying the surchargeable premium on your insurance until your appeal is overturned by the Board of Appeals. If your appeal is granted, you will be notified in writing and the surcharge you paid will be credited to your insurance policy. If your appeal is denied, you will be responsible for paying the surcharge at the time of your policy renewal and no credit will be applied.
Deciding whether or not to file a claim for pothole damage can be tricky, which is why the independent insurance agents at Boston Insurance are happy to help you assess the situation before making any decisions. In the long run, it may be in your best interest to fix any damage from a pothole without filing an insurance claim. While you may save a little money on the repair, the surcharge points will remain on your driving record for up to 6 years, which could increase your insurance premiums during that time period.
If you have more questions about your insurance coverage or what to do if you do damage your car from a pothole, reach out — we’re always here to help! Visit our website to learn more.