Potholes: How Auto Collision and Liability Insurance Can Get You "Out of the Hole"

Mar 07, 2018

By Brad Loheide —

If you live in or commute to Indianapolis, chances are this winter you've had to dodge street potholes.  The City's Department of Public Works has done a great job of sending crews and outside contractors to fill in the holes — providing relief for many drivers. This recent influx of potholes has brought up auto insurance questions for many individuals.  Understanding which options are available is the first step.

How do potholes happen?

When ice melts and seeps into cracks in the surface of the road, potholes can form. If you see something, say something is good advice: “Don't think you can't do anything about the problem if you spot a big one while driving around,” Star reporter Andrew Clark reminds consumers. “Report a pothole to the city by using the RequestIndy portal, at

What kinds of damage can be caused by hitting a pothole?

A pothole can suddenly damage your car in many ways:

  • Bending wheel rims
  • Throwing off  your car's steering system alignment
  • Wrecking shocks and struts
  • Damaging the engine or exhaust system
  • Puncturing a tire

How are pothole damages to cars treated from an insurance point of view?

  • If your auto policy includes collision coverage insurance on your car, the damage done by hitting a pothole – or several – will likely be covered, subject to your deductible.
  • If the pothole caused you to hit another car – or a pedestrian – it’s your liability insurance coverage that would kick in.

Is there any help available from the city or the state to cover the costs of pothole damage to your car?


Indianapolis pothole claims can be filed within 180 days following the event.

  • Use the Mayor’s Action Center App.
  • Call  317-327-4622
  • Keep a copy of your claim, your receipts for bills relating to car repairs, and your registered mail receipt.


If your car is damaged after hitting a pothole on a state road, you can file a tort claim with the Indiana Department of Transportation here.

Caution: In order to receive a reimbursement, a complaint must have been filed about the pothole before you hit it.

Collision insurance:

Whether or not you were at fault in an accident, your collision insurance will generally cover damages to your car if you’ve run into an object, such as:

  • another vehicle
  • a tree
  • a light pole
  • a hydrant

And, according to the Insurance Information Institute, drivers who have collision coverage are covered for damage caused by hitting a pothole. 

Comprehensive coverage:

Comprehensive (which does not come into play when you’ve hit a pothole) covers damage caused to your vehicle by an “act of God” (something unpredictable), such as:

  • fire
  • theft
  • vandalism
  • earthquake
  • hail 

Liability coverage:

Drivers that hit another vehicle or pedestrian due to a pothole would typically be covered by liability insurance, says the Insurance Institute, because property damage coverage applies to damage to someone else's property. 

As we’re all reminded with the pothole situation in Indianapolis, there’s a lot more to consider when shopping for auto insurance. As licensed professional agents, our mission is to not only make sure you purchase the appropriate limits of coverage on your auto, but act as your advocate to help settle your loss at your greatest benefit!

Remember, the right auto collision and liability insurance can help get you out of the hole.