Pothole coverage: good news and bad news
The potholes that emerge every mud season on the dirt roads in my tiny, rural town can make your teeth chatter when you drive over them. Even with video-game slalom-like moves to avoid the craters, it's impossible not to hit a few. When I hear my car's undercarriage go KA-CHUNG I cringe. And that's before the mechanic diagnoses what has become an annual rite of spring: the repair of a ball joint, or axel or muffler or some other part that's become the victim of these crushing country craters.
The good news is that collision coverage pays for pothole damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Collision provisions are optional, and of course increase your car insurance costs, but those additional premium dollars can pay big dividends when a pothole wreaks havoc on your car's undercarriage, Michael Barry, spokesman for the III, said in a statement. (See: "Something to hold on to: Comprehensive and collision coverage.")
I do have collision coverage, which also pays for damage to my car resulting from a collision with another car, object or as a result of flipping over. Even if you are at fault for an accident, your collision coverage will reimburse you for the costs of repairing your car, minus the deductible. Collision coverage is generally sold with a deductible of $250 to $1,000 -- the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. (See: "What's included in collision coverage and what should my deductible be?")
The deductible is where the bad news may come into play when it comes to pothole damage. Often, the cost for repairs, in my case, doesn't make it worthwhile to file a claim. Still, it's good to know that it's an option should I get a bill for much more than my deductible.
If you'd like to learn about the role insurance plays in other types of hole-related coverage, Insure.com's brilliant "Holes: An in-depth analysis" is a must-read. It covers sink holes, roof holes, bullet holes, black holes and more.
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's. Follow him on Twitter @destoups.